So many will say that children are a blessing, yet they treat them as if they need to be controlled and coerced into some imagined acceptable little person. If they say the wrong word, some arbitrary collection of “bad” words or phrases, they are slapped, hit, soap in mouths, chastised, shamed, forced to be set aside in time out … as if that would help the child understand and mature beyond their abilities. We expect them to be like little adults in their behavior, yet we would not treat another adult is such a manner. We make excuses, call it good parenting, necessary discipline, and yet, it is punishment, and disrespectful, and harmful.
Then we say, “well, I was spanked and I grew up just fine”, or “I deserved to be hit and it helped me to be a better person”, and other such justifications. Are we really “just fine” if we too, decide it is okay to hurt a child? That we can look this little person in the eye and say that a “swat”, a “whipping”, a “smack”, a “_____”, is deserved treatment.
If we, our adult self, would not allow someone to hit us, to swat us, to spank us, to whip us, to smack or slap or any other way to hit us, to shame us … then why is it okay to do so to our children?
AND THEN …
When they become young adults our youth become a target for being the “worst generation” of lazy, selfish, entitled, disrespectful beings to walk the face of the earth!
Kenneth John Freeman 1907
“The counts of the indictment are luxury, bad manners, contempt for authority, disrespect to elders, and a love for chatter in place of exercise. …Children began to be the tyrants, not the slaves, of their households. They no longer rose from their seats when an elder entered the room; they contradicted their parents, chattered before company, gobbled up the dainties at table, and committed various offences against Hellenic tastes, such as crossing their legs. They tyrannised over the paidagogoi and schoolmasters.”
* Socrates has erroneously been given credit for this quote: “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” As it is actually a nicely summarized version of the above, I wanted to add it, but give proper credit to the original author of it.
Seneca, 1st Century AD
“Our young men have grown slothful. There is not a single honorable occupation for which they will toil night and day. They sing and dance and grow effeminate and curl their hair and learn womanish tricks of speech; they are as languid as women and deck themselves out with unbecoming ornaments. Without strength, without energy, they add nothing during life to the gifts with which they were born — then they complain of their lot.”
Plato, 5th century BC
“Our youth have an insatiable desire for wealth; they have bad manners and atrocious customs regarding dressing and their hair and what garments or shoes they wear.”
Hesiod, 8th Century BC
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.”
Peter the Hermit, 11th Century
“The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no respect for their parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they alone know everything and what passes for wisdom in us foolishness in them. As for the girls, they are foolish and immodest and unwomanly in speech, behavior, and dress.”
Assyrian Clay Tablet, 2800 BC
“Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”
Perhaps it really just boils down to our own arrogant perspective. George Orwell summed it up well … “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”
When we stop believing that somehow things were truly “better” and now it is truly “worse” and look at all circumstances and the history of human kind, maybe we can start looking at our children, of all ages, and all the generations of being worthy and having worth even when it looks differently that we have come to believe is the most appropriate and acceptable way of being.
Hopefully, one generation will grow up to recognize the value of the ones before them and the ones that come after. To rejoice in all the amazing happenings and changes over the centuries, and positively anticipate those yet to come. Recognizing that bad has happened all along the way and will continue to be so. That working together and embracing the good we all embody can overcome and overflow to create beauty in this moment in time, as it has in generations past, and will continue to do so for the generations to come. If we let that be our point of reference rather than placing blame on the ones who are growing and maturing, who are blazing new trails and embracing change and bringing that amazing change to our world, we might just find that what we see in “the younger generation” is a glimpse at our own young selves and all the potential that swells within them, just as it did in us.