Friday Two Cents: Limits


The other day I was out enjoying my summer vacation on a patio when a familiar noise caught my attention.  It is of a child having a tantrum or fit in public.  Sadly, I say familiar because more and more I am seeing this type of behaviour in our society.  Yet this was not the worst of the offending behaviour.  The child was between the ages of 7 – 9 and they wanted something and was hurling abusive language at the parent.  This was a clear case of “parental abuse” and in public.

Parental abuse for those of you who do not know is defined by Cottrell (2001, p.3) as ‘any harmful act of a teenage child intended to gain power and control over a parent. The abuse can be physical, psychological, or financial.’ Yet I have seen studies that about 11% of abusers are under the age of 10 years of age.  What I witnessed was clearly parental abuse, by a minor and unfortunately these incidents are on the raise.  

From what I have read in studies experts say it may have something to do with the increase of rights to children in our society.  Even though the parent has the economic, social control in the relationship with the child, with increased children’s rights over the last twenty years, parents are feeling their parental rights are being removed (Holt, 2011). It would seem that with government regulations into children’s rights they appear to be entering into the family cultural make-up.  

Yet whatever the reasons by scholars and researchers, the fact is that there appears to be a shift in the decision making centre of the family. For many decades the decision-making was left to the parents.  What to eat, where to live or where to go on vacation.  But in resent years I have seen this authority move towards the children. 

I am not saying that children cannot make decisions for themselves but why are we having the members of the family with the least amount of world experience and knowledge make crucial decisions.  As an example; I have seen student’s lunches comprised of only treats such as cookies, chocolate bars and chips.  This had nothing to do with socio-economic or cultural issues.   I once asked the parents about what they put into their lunch and their overwhelming response is, “They won’t eat anything else.  But at least they are eating something.” I tried to reassure them by saying that if you put healthy things in their lunch everyday eventually they will eat it.  Children will not starve themselves; eventually they will eat out of necessity/instinct.  Yet they continue to do what the child wants and not what is best for them.  When did being the responsible adult go out of fashion? 

A child is simply that, a child. By definition; https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/child

– A young human being below the age of puberty or below the legal age of majority

– A person who has little or no experience in a particular area

I think the issue has to do with parents who have forgotten to give their children a healthy dose of vitamin N, “NO”. You want to stay up late after your bedtime?  No. You need 8 – 10 hrs. of sleep to be ready for the day’s activities. You want to stay in all day and play video games. No.   Go out and play with your friends face to face build human relationships. You want French fries and cake instead of the veggies and fruit.  No.  You need healthy foods as your body is growing not empty calories and sugar.  Oh by the way childhood obesity is on the rise, I wonder why? 

I understand that parents want to be friends with their children and give them everything they did not have but there has to be limits. Perhaps this is what happened to the child I saw the other day.  They have not learnt any limits or consequences.  As an adult we all must live with limits to help us function in society.  Many of us learnt this at an early age.  But we also know that the older you get the harder it is to change.  Why not teach limits to the children at an early age so that once they have accepted the limits they can then do what Albert Einstein once said …

‘Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.’ Albert Einstein

Otherwise we are sending them out into the world with an ACME Dynamite kite without knowing their limits or consequences.  And we know what happened to the coyote when he got his ACME kits. 

Cottrell, B. (2001). Parent abuse: The abuse of parents by their teenage children. Ottawa: Family Violence Prevention Unit, Health Canada.Cottrell, B. & Monk, P. (2004). Adolescent to parent abuse. Journal of Family Issues, 25, 1072–1095.

Holt, A. (2011). From troublesome to criminal: School exclusion as the ‘tipping point’ in parents’ narratives of crime. In C. Hayden & D. Martin (Eds.) Crime, anti-social behaviour and schools. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

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Friday Two Cents: Dear Parents, STOP!


Entitlement – noun [mass noun]

  1. The fact of having a right to something
  2. The amount to which a person has a right
  3. The belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment

I have heard this word uttered in many instances by different people. Parents talking about children both young and grown, teachers about students, and the media about every generation from Gen. X, Y, Boomer Echo and Millennials.  Of course the current cohort of students are just the latest generation to be labeled with this sense of entitlement, yet many believe that in their case the label might be accurate.  Many see students acting like they deserve everything in life without working for it.  Or that whatever they want they have the right to get everything they want simply because they want it.  

Examples of these students/children are popping up in schools, playgrounds, malls and in the media showing that this may be the truth for a lot of them.  As an occasional teacher I have observed student behaviour for many years and I have to say that I do agree with this assessment. Yet the bigger question is not why are today’s youth showing a sense of entitlement but where are they learning it? For this, all you have to do is look no further than the parents.  However many, if not a majority of parents would say that they are not to blame, that it’s someone else’s fault.  That it must be something they learnt from school.  Sorry to bust your bubble parents but your child will learn more from you than they will ever from a teacher.  They started learning their behaviour from the moment they were born and looked at their first teacher.  You.  

I want it because I want it.

  I have found it baffling that parents under value their contribution to the education and moulding of their children. Many believe that their child will learn more from a teacher than from them. I have told many parents that my contribution to their child’s learning is a musicale one in the larger scheme of things. Many don’t believe me but then I explain it this way.

  ‘Your child will be in school for about 14 years (elementary, middle and high school). They are with me for one out of those 14 years. It’s not even a full year, 10 months. Furthermore its only five days a week, for about 6 hours a day. That’s assuming they start when they are four years old. Yet for the first four years of their life and the remaining 14 years, who are they with all the time? So I ask you, who do you think has a greater influence in teaching your child, me or you?’ Their stunned silence speaks volumes.

I know that some are listening but I saw a fantastic letter written by a parent to parents about this very subject and I would like to share it with you.  

A letter by Lisa Collum

If one parent can get it and I know it will take some time but hopefully more will read this and wakeup to the fact that their child is the way they are because of them.  Then maybe we will see a difference in how the youth act.  Only time will tell.  

Friday Two Cents: Who Truly Has A Sense Of Entitlement


 

‘Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult.’ Nadia Boulanger

 

‘The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.’ Benjamin Spock

 

This week I had the opportunity to revisit an old school that I had supplied in the past. I know the students and the teachers. It is a wonderful school and I enjoy going to there whenever I can. Yet I noticed something very interesting when I was there.

Standing on guard for thee

As in every school the morning routine begins with the singing of O Canada and then the morning announcements. The thing that surprised me was that once O Canada came on over the PA system the kindergarten students all stopped their activities and stood erect and sang the entire anthem. This shouldn’t be too surprising yet in many kindergarten classes, to get the students to stand and sing the anthem and not talk to one another is a constant struggle.
This incident made me think about why did these students stand and sing the anthem proudly and in other classes I have to constantly remind them. Is it because the students are older senior kindergarten students? No, there is an even mix of junior and senior kindergarten students. Is it because of the teachers? No, in every class I have been in the teacher is always the first to stand and remind the students. They are the perfect role models. Then what was the reason?

New to Canada

The only conclusion I could come up with was that the school’s student population (school A) was largely made of immigrant families and visible minorities and the other schools’ populations were largely 2nd, 3rd or greater generation families. In those other schools’ classes I had to remind students on a daily basis to stand and stop talking to their friends during the anthem. Yet that was only one of many differences that I noticed about the students from school A. Wherever I went in the school, the older students would hold the door open and use manners when interacting in the hallway. It made me think about the interactions in other schools with a smaller immigrant family base. There were times I had to remind students to please hold the door for others. Say please and thank you and show proper manners such as not burp in public and say excuse me.
Yet right away my mind went to the question of ‘Why?’ Why were these students in school A showing “better” manners and respect for others then other schools? Is it truly because the families are immigrants? Is it because they are from places where staying alive is a constant struggle and living in a country as amazing as Canada is a blessing?
I have and many studies have shown it, that parents are the greatest influence in their child’s life. More than teachers, celebrities or athletes, parents influence and mold their children into the people they will become as adults. It would seem that the generations of parents born in this country do not know or take it for grated, on how lucky they are to be in this country. New arrives to Canada know from first hand experience how difficult it is and the struggles they undertook to come here.

Parents have the greatest influence on their children.

Many people say that this generation of students is entitled and they want things done for them and I have examples of seen this. Yet perhaps people should be looking at the root cause of this sense of entitlement, the parents. Instead of passing off their children onto others and expecting them to teach their child to be responsible and respectable citizens, they should be looking to themselves. It’s their job, their responsibility to instill manners, respect for others and to be grateful for the blessings of living in a wonderful country like Canada. Maybe the people who need to stop having a sense of entitlement and expecting others to do things for them are not the students.
Ailish Sinclair

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