I apologize for the clickbait title, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been working on this post for a while now. Editing it, reading it over and over, and basically just trying to decide whether or not I sound too judgmental or like I’m coming down on one group of people. At this point, I can’t read it again and if someone is offended by it, then I think they’ve missed the point. So, here we go…
Okay, I know some of you are thinking “you hate kids?? You are definitely in the wrong profession!” but hold on… let me explain. I absolutely hate when I hear people say “kids these days…” This statement is usually followed by one of the following or something similar:
- they are so rude and disrespectful.
- they are always on their phones.
- they are growing up faster.
- they know too much for their age.
- they only care about themselves.
- they don’t know how to use their imagination.
and on and on and on…
I hear stuff like this ALL. THE. TIME. Maybe it’s part of being a teacher, idk. While I agree with many of these statements, the tone behind them is what irritates the hec out of me. Sometimes people say these things like it’s all the kids’ fault, as if they were just born that way, but let’s look at these and break them down.
The one I hear the most is: “Kids these days are so disrespectful. They are so rude and negative towards any authority figure. They can’t even look me in the eye when I’m talking to them.” Well, let me tell you something… I don’t know about you, but I didn’t come out of my mother’s womb knowing how to do those things. I wasn’t born with perfect social manners. i wasn’t born with the ability to be a great conversationalist or to say “yes, ma’am” or “no, sir.” I was taught those things. I was told by my parents that I needed to be respectful. I was taught how to do this and why it was important. They first taught me to “honor your father and mother.” Then through respecting my parents I learned that it’s just as important to respect other adults. They taught me through verbal instruction AND modeling for me how I was supposed to behave. If a kid doesn’t have a parent, mentor, guide, older sibling, leader, etc… to show them how to do this and to teach them that it’s the right thing, then how will they know to do this? If they watch their parent, guide, mentor, etc. be disrespectful to those around them, how else will they know?
Another one I hear a lot is: “Kids these days only care about themselves.” Once again, while many people are born with a gift for caring for others, we still learn by watching the examples that are given in life. I was taught to care about others. I was shown how to care for someone else, first and foremost, by watching how my mom and dad cared for each other, then by watching how they cared for me and my sister. I watched them care for the youth at church. I watched Dad pack a box for a homeless man near his work almost every winter. I watched both parents and my older sister go on missions trips. My parents, teachers, pastor, and friends showed me how important it was and why it was important to care about others needs. If kids are never shown how or told why, how else will they know?
“Kids these days are always on their phones. They have no imagination because they never get outside and play or read books or, etc…” I’m just gonna come right out and say… I see more adults texting and driving than I do teens. Kids learn by watching someone else. Yes, kids are on their phones, but more and more SO ARE ADULTS. If you don’t want your kid to be on their phone, take it away and put yours away too! Technology has opened up so many social avenues and I think it’s amazing! Kids are able to connect with each other in so many ways. Maybe it’s my age, but I don’t think these avenues are inherently bad. I use social media to keep in contact with a friend in Prague, to send pictures and messages to friends from college, to talk to my sister in the Dominican Republic, to send my husband texts during the day, to get pictures of my child when I miss her at work, etc. The point is, there is a right and wrong way to use social media. There is a right and wrong time to use social media. In fear of belaboring the point… this. has. to. be. taught. Just like everything I’ve said above, behaviors are learned. If you don’t think church is the time to have the phone out, teach the kid that. If they shouldn’t have it at the dinner table, then teach them that. If they’re in a social situation and they haven’t looked up in 30 seconds to look at someone else in the room, then let them know that it’s time to put the phone away. These behaviors are taught.
Lastly, “kids are growing up faster these days. They know too much, too fast.” Just take a second and think about what has changed the most during the past 50 years? Our access to knowledge. We have technology at our fingertips, constantly. There are phones, ipads, computers, internet, along with every other resource we had before. I’ve never realized how many restaurants have TV’s before we started trying to keep Selah away from screens. They are EVERYWHERE. Even in my own house. Kids are using technology at home AND at school. They are exposed to so much information all the time. This is great in so many ways, especially in education. The downside is that this makes it more difficult to monitor what they can be exposed to. Even if, as parents/mentors/teachers, we are diligent about vetting what kids watch or see, there are some things we just can’t stop them from hearing or seeing. Whether it be through friends, music on the radio, in books they read, etc… they will hear or see something. Just the other night we were watching March Madness and a commercial came on that (in the words of a facebook friend) was more like a sex ed class than a car commercial. The point is that March Madness is a family thing. Plenty of kids stay up to watch it. I sure did when I was little. If a child picks up on what is happening, then the parent is forced to have a conversation before they or even their child is ready. The parents have to make a decision between talking to them before either is prepared vs. letting their kids find out through a friend at school. Most of the time, these friends have wrong information or tells more than they need to. I could go on and on about this one, but I’ll stop for now. Technology and media are at the root of this problem.
I hate the phrase “kids these days” because “kids these days” are bombarded with all sorts of issues that I never had to deal with, much less my parents, or grandparents generation. They are smothered in body image issues everywhere they look; sexual innuendos in every song, commercial, or tv show; bullying; social media problems; so many activities that demand their time… and parents, teachers, mentors, that NEVER had these problems and are trying to guide these children through all of it. We cannot pretend like they have it just as easy as we did. They are exposed to so much and if they don’t have guidance and love, they are bound to get lost.
I’ll finish with this: The students I have had in school are self-conscious, kind, loyal, pleading for attention, eager to please, courageous, funny, talented, good kids. Some are troubled and misunderstood and desperately need love. Next time you see a kid on their phone, don’t assume that they are wasting their time. They could be speaking with a friend or reading a book. Next time a kid doesn’t look you in the eye, don’t assume that they are being rude. Maybe they have learned by experience to not look adults in the eye. Have some compassion, try to understand the world they are growing up in, teach them in love, and always give them a second chance.