Do you ever have the urge to discipline someone else’s kids?
What about when their parents are sitting right there, yukking it up, chatting with friends or drinking cocktails, and otherwise ignoring the fact that their little brat is:
A.) Talking back to a teacher, lifeguard, parent, or other adult
B.) Tormenting a defenseless younger child
C.) Teasing an older child who could, by all rights, stop the little monster in his tracks, but is too nice (or well-mannered) to do so
D.) All of the above.
Doesn’t it drive you nuts?
I don’t know what I want to do more, put the kid in a time out or throttle the parents.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am hardly the strictest mom in the cul de sac, and my son is definitely not the best behaved on the block, but he knows that no means NO, and stop means STOP, and that there are serious consequences when he doesn’t behave in the way he’s supposed to.
That seems like a pretty basic rule for getting along in society, but you wouldn’t know it from watching some of these rude, self-absorbed, bratty little jerks in action.
I’m not the only one who’s annoyed.
In a recent Newsvine poll, 83 percent of the participants surveyed said that today’s kids are more self-centered than those of past generations.
There are lots of theories about why this has happened. Pediatrician Dr. Philippa Gordon told MSNBC, “I see parents ferociously advocating for their children, responding with hostility to anyone they perceive as getting in the child’s way- from a person whose dog snuffles inquiringly at a baby in a carriage, to a teacher or coach whom they perceive is slighting their child, to a poor, hapless doctor who cannot cure the common cold. There is a feeling that anything interfering with their kid’s homeostasis, as they see it, is an inappropriate behavior to be fended off sharply.”
I understand the impulse to do everything you can to make sure that your child is safe, healthy and happy. That protective instinct is as natural as breathing for most parents.
But somehow my parents, and most of my peers’ parents, managed to avoid coddling us the way so many parents do now. In fact, I remember my parents as being much more concerned about instilling proper behavior toward others (including themselves) than the other way around.
Babble.com writer Madeline Holler postulates that, “We Gen Xers, who were so benignly neglected that we now over-compensate as parents by co-sleeping and baby-wearing and opting out. And that we’re so fixated on our children’s well-being that we wind up teaching them that other people’s feelings are less important than our own, that kids should first make sure they feel good, then (if ever) worry about others.”
It could be that.
Or it could be that in a culture that embraces snarky comments from “American Idol” judges, where Fisher Price has a toy called “Mr. Men Mr. Rude” and Mattel battles to control a line of dolls called “Bratz,” downright bratty behavior has become not only acceptable but cool.
But I suspect that the real reason most people give their kids such a free ride when it comes to bad behavior has nothing with over-protectiveness, cultural influence, or worrying about their children’s fragile self-esteem. I’m guessing they’re just exhausted, with too much to do and too little time to do it.
Not that I’m giving the parents a free pass on disciplining their children-and not that I’m going to step in and do it for them anytime soon, tempted as I may be.
But think about this the next time you see one of these sassy little brats at the pool, or the baseball field or the playground. And if he or she belongs to you, think about it extra hard.