Working in secondary schools I have experienced the entitlement mentality of the society we live in played out in the attitudes of today's youth. With two kids of my own, my wife and I often discuss how to teach them properly and build a proper work-ethic within them. We live in a society that does not value anything that is good for us physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. However, I am not blaming it. The society is a reflection of its people. I am not going to sit here and blog about the troubles that we have, because we already know what's wrong. I want to give you a solution to consider.
As a parent, I am going to do something that could revolutionize child-rearing for Americans. I am, with the help of my wife, going to take responsibility for the growth and development of my children mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We are not going to count on the schools for mental and emnotional development, we will not depend on organized sports to develop our kids physically, nor will we leave it in the hands of the Church to grow our children spiritually. I believe in the usefulness of these three institutions, but we have lost sight of the most important institution: THE FAMILY.
The family is at the heart of our society. Consider the state of our society and the state of families. How broken and shattered are we as we watch the divorce rate slowly rise above 50% and beyond? What is a child's first glimpse of what it means to be connected to another but in a family? What is a gang, but a sense of family that someone gets from outside of their biological connections. There is a definate formula for families that aides in the proper growth of children. The constants of this formula are love, stability, security, and trust. Everything else is a variable. When one of these constants is missing, then the family unit becomes off center. The more that are missing, the more off center and dysfunctional this family becomes. Most commonly, families have been missing trust and stability, which means that there is a 50% chance of survival.
I am not going to make an argument for or against gay marriage. But I will say that I have worked with some kids who will take two moms or two dads who want a family over their current situation. I worked with students who spend more time at their friend's house in order to feel the family connection they are missing in their home.
How do I practice what I preach?
We have a natural inclination to assign value to things, and to people. This guys is better than the next. This lady is prettier than the others. My dad can beat up your dad. The problem comes when we do this with our children. There are two important "why" questions that children ask that we are answering in the wrong way. When they ask why they have to do something we've asked them to do, we say, "because I'm your father, and I said so." When they ask why we love them, we give an infinite number of responses. This is backwards and damaging. Whatever the reason is that we give them for why we love them or show them affection is the reason that they will begin to think gives them worth. Therefore, when we tell them to do something, we need to have an infinite number of ways to explain why they need to do what we are telling them to do. When they ask why we love them, our response simply needs to be, "because I am your father, and I said so."
If there is nothing our kids have to do to earn love and affection, then there is nothing they can do to lose love and affection.