No situation we went through as children ever gave us the right to behave badly. No matter what was going on, we had basic expectations to uphold and never were we granted free rein to behave uncontrollably. At all times we had to be respectful and courteous to others. If we were not, then we would be disciplined.
It was our responsibility to learn how to control our emotions and not allow them to cause us to make foolish decisions. We had to control our anger, disappointment and our desire to lash out. Was it always easy? No and we failed a lot, but we knew that if we behaved badly there would be consequences to pay.
Because of our parents’ rules and the moral concepts that were taught to us, we were very careful to behave the best we could.
What happened? People are out of control.
It seems as though many parents don’t have rules anymore. Practically everywhere we go children run wildly, speak to their parents rudely and behave with no sense of respect whatsoever to those around them.
Turn on the news and you see stories of teens running through the streets attacking innocent bystanders for fun, beating up school bus drivers, looting stores and stealing merchandise right in front of store owners because they can. Then, if they get caught they blame others for their behavior.
This is where the problem lies. They don’t take responsibility for their actions. They don’t know how to. Many kids are taught from a very early age that when they go through difficult times, that their bad behavior will be excused.
I’ve seen many of these situations first-hand. Children starting as young as three are having their behavior justified by their parents. He’s slamming toys into that girl’s head because his father is working a lot lately and he’s upset about it. She’s hitting adults and kicking them because her fish died last week. He’s threatening adults by getting into their faces because his dad and I are getting divorced, or the year before that…because he has a bad teacher at school.
Did any of them get disciplined or even talked to about their behavior? No. Not at all. They were excused by their parents and allowed to continue.
What these children are being taught is that when they don’t get their way or when life seems unfair that they can behave however they choose. They can lash out, destroy things and hurt others. It doesn’t matter what they do. Life is all about them and what they want, and if they don’t get their way then they have every right to make sure that other people know that. They’ve been given a license to behave badly and most of the time they know that they’ll get away with it. So what’s to stop them?
Unfortunately, this thought pattern follows them to adulthood. Then we as a society have to pay for it. We suffer the loss of our possessions, finances, safety and even the lives of our loved ones. But it’s not only us who suffer. They do too. They throw away their potential for success. What could have been a great and joyful life, becomes nothing but a life filled with anger, bitterness and problems.
All of this, simply because children aren’t taught the basics. They are not taught to control their behavior. They are not taught values, morals, self-respect or respect for others. They are not taught honesty, obedience or courtesy. Instead, they are given a license to behave however it pleases them; to behave badly.
Future generations depend on us to teach our children basic moral concepts. We can’t rely on others to do it for us. It starts at home.