I’ve become that grumpy old man…

They bump into you. They yell, scream and sometimes curse just inches from your ear. They push you aside as they chase each other around. They even yank things out of your hand. Never once uttering an “excuse me” or “sorry”. They are just plain rude and obnoxious. These are today’s kids. I call them GEN-LS or Little Snots (to avoid using a harsher term).
Spanking, I am told, is pass√©, but this generation may change people’s minds. I know, I sound like the grumpy old man that lived next door when “we” were kids and started every sentence with “when I was your age…” and ended √†-la-Dangerfield with “… no respect I tell ya!”
It is our fault. It is not the networks, Miss Smith the 1st Grade teacher, global warming, the fact that they are bored (isn’t part of our job description to entertain them?) or any of the other excuses churned out by everyone to pardon the absolute lack of discipline amongst our youth. And the crisis is global or rather as far reaching as the places to which I have traveled. Nor do I exclude the possibility of my own kid becoming a GEN-LSer himself (how objective of me!).
So what are we doing wrong? Do we lack the patience of our parents? Is it the lack of physical discipline? Are we abusing the easy way out (i.e. videos, cookies, gifts etc.)? My folks will get a kick out of reading this. I can just see them nodding their heads and smirking (especially my mother) at this confessional with that annoying air of grandparenting superiority. As Bill Cosby said, “these are not the same people I grew up with… they are old and want to get into heaven now!” They are retired as parents and can just sit back and criticize our every decision and at the same time destroy – in mere seconds – months of painstaking parenting by handing their grandchild whatever they want knowing that they would never have given that very same thing to their own kid (a.k.a. you). They have a way of imparting obvious parenting advice using the prefix “when you were kids, I never…” at the worst possible moment (i.e. in the midst of a full blown tantrums, while trying to change a writhing child’s diaper, while restraining a screaming kid from pulling down all the cereal boxes from the store shelf, while deciding with your wife or partner how best to handle a situation etc.) and looking surprised and somewhat upset when you snap back at them with a curt “not now!” The more I look at kids today, the more I think our parents are right, though. In the end, they did their job as parents (each with varying degrees of success) and guided us through life to get to the point where we too are now supposed to do the same with our kids. And yet I see a collective failure.
I am sure there are plenty of exceptions and you are probably reading this saying “that’s not my kid.” I know, I certainly don’t think it’s mine, but again that is just me being completely not objective. Overall, though, and for many reasons that merit a separate discussion, we are failing our kids in discipline and it may just be that we are too tired or have gotten too lazy and complacent, but it is to their ultimate detriment.
Ironically, this has occurred at a time when more two parent families are benefiting from a far greater active participation by the dads. This should mean that children have two parents from which to take their cues and from which to learn “right from wrong” on a more consistent basis. So are we dads the bad influence? Do we just confuse things for the kid by sending mixed signals? Are we poorly coordinated with our significant other? The answer, as always when this dad is involved, is “I don’t know.” I can just keep putting my best parenting skills out there based on how I grew up and how I became a (fairly) responsible adult. I think I grabbed the right map, but looking around me I worry if I, like many of the other parents around me, should double check to make sure that we are holding it the right side up?