Parents, please be parents!
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by Ron Cruger
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America is a far more affluent country today than it was back in 1955. Thanks to
easy credit, especially the rampant use of credit cards by people who don’t have actual financial resources, the citizenry of America
can enjoy lifestyles that make it appear that the vast majority are members of a faux exclusive well-to-do class. A substantial fiscal
difference between the fifties and today is that way back then if you didn’t have the money to purchase something you had to save
your money until you had enough to buy what you wanted. Today, adults as well as children live their lives bathed in instant gratification.
Thanks in a large measure to the plastic rectangle the lifestyles of the authentic well-to-do and the faux well-to-do are somewhat
indistinguishable except for the anguish the latter feel come the tenth of the month when the payments for their purchases and lifestyle
are due and payable.
Today, children of all financial classes own cell phones,
iPods, iPhones, Honda Accords, the latest garments, multi pocketed, crack showing baggy pants and their own ATM cards. What used to
be the domain of adults is now co- inhabited by teens and pre-teens. Children are maturing faster, experimenting with sex earlier,
injecting, sniffing, and smoking drugs earlier. These same children are also graduating from high school with less scholastic knowledge,
if fact, in many larger American cities only half of the students attending high school graduate. But, even these non-graduates will
no doubt carry their own iPods, iPhones, wear hip fashions and baggy clothes, pierce their tongues and eyebrows, drive their own Honda
Accords and use their own well-worn ATM cards. Their instant gratification needs are being met. Up until a few generations ago there
was a separation between adults and children. Adults did adult things and children did children things. Then it came to be believed
that by creating a difference between adults and children the children would grow up to be neurotics and psychotics. So, with their
parent’s acquiescence and abdication of close responsibility children quickly tried acting like adults by the time they were twelve
– only they weren’t really adults, they were still children and they weren’t ready to make adult decisions or live like adults.
Soon after the abdication of close parental authority some children started forming street gangs. Music was changing. The gentle love
songs of the 1940’s and 1950’s were being replaced by angrier tunes, featuring cacophony of the beating of women, of prostitutes and
drugs and money.
At the same time that America’s children were permitted to
act like adults more and more of America’s parents were disappearing from the home. The working father and mother became a common
occurrence. America’s children, by the millions, were being left alone until mom and dad finished work and came home. Millions of
our children were being left alone to learn not from their mothers and fathers, but from each other. In many homes fathers disappeared
As both parents pursued careers and occupations they realized that
they would require a second car, so the family went into further debt to make the purchase. Times were good, credit was easy. A new
house was purchased, one with a large garage to hold the family automobiles. New clothes were needed. Children grew and they soon
needed their own autos. More new clothes, bigger television sets, newer, snazzier cars, country club memberships, expensive vacations,
college tuitions – perhaps a larger house in a gated community. One had to keep up with the Joneses. America’s children were becoming
bigger, stronger, more street savvy.
Other things were happening. Divorce rates
soared. Membership in street gangs increased tremendously. Fewer of America’s children were graduating from their high schools. Our
prisons became overcrowded. Families started depositing ageing parents and grandparents in old-age homes. The use of drugs skyrocketed
among our youth. Our children are fatter than ever, more out of shape than ever. Physical Education and gym classes are being eliminated
in many schools. Kids are spending a greater portion of their waking hours sitting in front of their computers and television sets.
Overweight, out of shape kids have become a national affliction.
were changing. Millions of Americans kept an eye the value of their newly purchased stock portfolios. The mood of America changed
with the fluctuations in the stock market.
Teenage drinking increased. Families
live in nice homes, drive better cars, wear more fashionable clothes, enjoy better vacations. The children own computers, iPods, iPhones
and their own cars. They certainly know more about sex than any previous generation.
So, what’s wrong with all of this? Perhaps nothing.
It all depends on whether
you think our nation has grown to be a more sensitive, kinder, gentler place. If the children walking on our streets today are treating
others with respect. If you think that the children of today are loving, kind and respectful to their parents and their family members
then there is nothing wrong with parents being too busy to care for their children full time. If crime rates are diminishing. If other
nations of the world see America as a better, kinder, more understanding place. If people get along better. If neighborhoods are friendly
and nurturing. If there is a greater sense of family today. If the answers are yes, then America is on the right track.
Let’s face it, if adults today want nice homes, new cars, the best clothes, the latest computers and toys, vacations in foreign countries
and enviable lifestyles – and they are married with children – then both parents will probably have to work and their children will
have to get along without having a full time parent at home.
It has been fifty
years since parenting in America has changed. The fifties are memories only to the elder among us. The fifties were sentimental and
simple times. Families attempted to emulate the “Leave it to Beaver” and “Donna Reed Show” lifestyles. Guns hadn’t gotten into the
hands of teenagers yet. The drugs of today hadn’t been created. Kids did what their parents told them to do – or else.
Raising children today is much more difficult than it ever has been.
the parents of today. Those that are dedicated to loving and nurturing their children and teach them the values of family and caring.
There are still millions of these loving mothers and fathers in America who are raising their children with care and devotion.
It’s not these people and it’s not these children I’m worried about.