What’s Wrong with American Parents?

A video of a dance recital for tots recently went viral. One UK paper even picked up the story, linking to the video. The source of a few seconds of entertainment for millions was a stage filled with dazed and bewildered looking toddlers trailing aimlessly around a stage, decked out like a line of miniature Sugar Plum Fairies. The fact that none of these tiny girls were able to do anything remotely like dancing wasn’t the point. The event was a reward for parents who had shelled out big bucks for their babies’ “dance” training.

What drew people to the video was a bust-up between two of the toddlers who engaged in a bit of push and shove. One larger girl and one smaller girl pushed each other around for over a minute on stage. Rather than separate the children immediately, the parents began cheering the girls on. It was Fight Club for the Pull-Up set as parents laughed at what was going on. Which leads me to ask the question of the hour. What in the world is wrong with American parents?

When children engage in “push and shove” in the school hallways, it’s called fighting or bullying. It’s not cute then, is it? When exactly do parents today think character is formed? Is there a magic switch when hitting and bullying and  so forth magically disappear? Judging by the headlines, the answer is no.

Another news story yesterday caught my eye. A belligerent woman angrily told the media how she was escorted out of her daughter’s high school graduation and arrested. Why? She claimed she was just “cheering too loudly” at the event. Yes. She broke the rules at the event where parents had been warned, in advance, not to disrupt the handing out of diplomas. She shrieked and screamed, and then when escorted out,  became so irate, the police arrested her. This wasn’t rocket science. The rules were laid down. The woman ignored it, and she faced consequences. What a concept. (Her daughter’s equally belligerent and illiterate rant afterward made you wonder what exactly the school had matriculated, but that would be another post.)

I’ve sat through many graduations, including one two years ago at a Christian college. The head of the college asked parents to hold applause until every student had been given their diploma. Everyone obeyed…except the two  women next to me. They were special, see? They were the exceptions to the rule. The two women whooped and hollered as their graduate crossed the stage, even standing up and pumping their fists. The disgust around me was palpable. Welcome to the big world, special student. Watch Mama and sister flout the rules just for you.

American parents refusal to grow up is having grim consequences for the kids. The lawlessness that seems to worsen by the hour in this country can be laid down directly at the feet of parents who coddle and excuse their kids in rule breaking, and in some cases, encourage it. If you don’t like a rule, ignore it. It was a stupid one anyway.

As “harmless” as the dance recital incident might seem to some, there was something instructive both in the parents’ reaction in the audience and the response of the public watching the video. Comments under the video ran something like, “That chick won’t take no @#$&  when she grows up.” What a beautiful sentiment and hope for a little girl’s future.

We can’t do anything about the children of others, but we can try to instill in our children, beginning in babyhood, that kindness, respect and obedience is not optional. Just this morning, I had a talk with Emily about obeying right away. No dawdling, no whining, no sassing. It’s “Yes, Ma’am,” and action. Because if you fail to teach it now, best of luck when they hit school age.

We parents, despite hard work, have no guarantees that our kids will do the right thing or not have serious character problems. Ultimately it is up to each child to do the right thing with what they know. It’s our job, however, to see that they know it!

6 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with American Parents?

  1. carolyn says:

    Sad commentary indeed. Many years ago, I was walking around a park that had a lot of small ponds where ducks would gather. There were signs at the park that said “do not feed the wildlife”. A mother and her young child came with a loaf of bread to feed the ducks. The child said, “Mom, but the sign says ‘do not feed the wildlife'”. The mother huffed and told the child to ignore the sign. And we wonder why we’re in the mess we’re in today… verses like “everyone did what was right in their own eyes” come to mind, which is exactly what happens when we toss out God and His immutable standards.

  2. Jean Selden says:

    Our only hope is God. We now have at least two generations of children who have never been taught about God and we are all living with the consequences. I just saw today that they are giving breathalyzer tests at high school graduations before a diploma will be given. Lord have mercy on us.
    Jean

  3. Mary says:

    In light of you and Tom raising precious little Emily to be a God-fearing, scripture obeying, radiant Christ-like young lady, I want to recommend a wonderful, excellent book. It is called “So Much More” by Anna Sofia Botkin and Elizabeth Botkin. Do take the time to check it out. With love, in our Lord Jesus Christ- Mary

  4. Donna says:

    Ingrid: you know what my profession is and I can tell you that it is one that attracts an unusually high percentage of narcissists. One of the most successful ones that I have ever met is quite famous. He explained to me that he “breaks one rule every day.” Whether it is parking in a no parking zone or speeding or littering, he takes pride in the fact that he makes sure every single day to break a rule for the sake of doing it. I know his children and they are all unhappy people living chaotic lives–because they have been taught not to respect others.

  5. elaine says:

    I tried to raise my children to love and obey God and all his comandments. The culture is a strong influence and once they leave home, there is nothing we can do , but pray’ that they will come back to God.

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