Are we failing our youth?

Gone are the days of ‘Children must be seen and not heard’. So too are the days where kids actually knew the meaning of the word respect and practiced it religiously or else… In this millennium it’s common to hear people excuse their kids bad behaviour by saying “kids will be kids” but do we really agree with those parents or have we just become so accustomed to it that it’s the norm?

These days a lot of kids will walk pass adults and look them squarely in the eyes and not greet. The profanities they spew is enough to rival a sailor any day. I can run the risk of saying that it’s bad parenting that results in little brats growing up to be selfish and arrogant adults but I won’t. That doesn’t mean that anyone is off the hook though.

This afternoon while collecting my one daughter from school I learned that my other daughter was involved in a little accident at school. A classmate threw an eraser to another classmate and she was caught in the middle when it hit her throat instead. My plans for the day did not include visiting the school office nor did it include trying to remain calm and objective while facing the boy who hurt my child. To put it mildly I was peeved. More so because the little accident cost me time, an unscheduled trip to the doctor and muddled up my plans for the day. Ok not that ironing is all that important but it took me ages to summon up enough strength to do it.

I had a choice to make when I addressed the child. 1) I could rip him apart with the ‘take no prisoners approach’ for hurting my daughter and then demand to see his parents and chide them too. 2) I could keep calm and remember that my actions and reactions can have an impact on both my daughter and the boy. It was up to me whether it was positive or negative.

My mother heart really wanted to go with option 1 but the latter won. You see, daily we have an impact on our own as well as other peoples children. Many people believe that other peoples kids are not their responsibility and to a certain extent they are right. But when I look around me and see how lost our youth is, it doesn’t take me too long to realise that we fail them every single day.

You may argue by saying that you don’t bother because so and so’s parents don’t want to hear anything about their kids or as long as your kids are not doing it you don’t worry about the other peoples kids. Looking the other way is our nature. We see kids doing wrong almost everyday but we choose not to say anything to them. By saying something I don’t mean harsh words or breaking them down, though I’m a firm believer of tough love. Showing kids you care enough to say something could go a long way. I’m always amused at how my kids friends just keep coming back even if I have words with them. With good reason obviously. They never tend to make the same mistake after being called out for one.

I too am guilty as charged on account of looking straight pass other kids and not caring enough to help keep them on the straight and narrow. Though I try to do good and make time for other kids, I don’t always find the time to make an impact. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. But then I’m reminded by little things random people said or did that had an impact on my life as a child and I once again realise that we don’t have to move mountains. Not all of us is a Mother Teresa. There is only one Oprah Winfrey. Never again will there be another Nelson Mandela. Hopefully there was and ever will be only one Hitler.

Plenty of our heroes and idols are ordinary people like teachers, friends parents, aunts, uncles, neighbours, the fruit vendor etc. You and I could be heroes too by setting examples to our youth and trying our hand at consistency. I don’t know about you but I think I’d quite rock a cape.

I’d like you to think back to your own childhood. Was there an adult who had an impact (however insignificant) on your life? Did anyone besides your parents have a hand at teaching you a valuable life lesson? How did that person make you feel? I know everyone has a fond memory of someone and some situation that made a difference in their lives. Even if your memory is not too fond the lesson would have been learned and you probably remember some of it with scorn.

By remaining calm and explaining the implications of his actions the boy understood and I could see he felt remorse. In no way did I intend to put him on a guilt trip but I probably reiterated what his parents have taught him at home. Hopefully he learned that conflicts can be resolved with respect and in a peaceful manner. Yes accidents happen all the time but apologies are not always enough. Many accidents can be avoided if we exercise caution. My daughter too learned that not everything is a crime and we have to let go of some hurts. I know she would’ve preferred me to throttle him but having her mom handle the situation with class (my word not hers) is a better life lesson.

Luckily our gp visit was a run of the mill physical exam and there’s nothing wrong with her. He’s given her some meds for the physical pain and the all clear to sing tone deaf in the bathroom once more. My ears have survived it thus far and it looks like I’ll have to endure it for years to come. The. Joys.

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