.... was the topic that came up yesterday when I was having lunch with my three favourite guys, my friends and colleagues Peter, Michael and Giuseppe. I'm not sure how we got there, other than the fact that we were outnumbered in Gino's Panini by a large number of 'tweens from a local school.
What we noticed is that kids today conduct themselves in an entirely different manner than we did at their age. Now, in our little lunch group our ages ranged from late twenties to late forties, and yet all of our experiences were the same, growing up. Of course, even the good little Sunday School kids got in trouble... when no one was looking. But the common thread was that we four all learned about respect in meaningful ways, some of which involved a swat on the backside. Some of us faced other very real punishments - it is amazing how much one ponders life when confined to a bedroom for any waking hours that were not spent at school for one week.
This is not meant to turn into a debate about corporal punishment, but rather an examination of what has changed in society? As a kid growing up in Mississauga, I would not have dreamed of failing to hold a door for an adult, give up my seat on a bus to an elderly person; my brothers would never wear their baseball hats in a restaurant, or while sitting down to a family meal at home for that matter. When our parents introduced us to an adult friend, we stood, extended a hand and said, 'nice to meet you, sir', and then asked permission to be excused from the room.
Really though, can we who are parents really roll our eyes and say with a sigh, "kids today...."?
One thing for certain is that our kids are definitely more worldly wise than I remember being. I see 12 year old girls in the mall, dressed like little pop stars with more glitter makeup and less clothing. Did their parents see them leave the house like this? I distinctly remember 12. I Was riding my skateboard and marvelling at the fact that I was faster than most of the boys on my street. I was playing softball and going swimming, and tobogganing at that awesome hill at Brookmede Public School.
Perhaps it was because I was not bombarded with the same images as kids today. Yet, do we really want our kids to be ignorant about the world around them?
Its a bit of a conundrum for me.
Another parent told me recently that my kids are the most polite and respectful children she's ever met. Should I be puffed up with pride, or should I be sad that their good behaviour is not the norm any more?
If I start t go on about the evils of: the Internet, overwhelming media noise 24/7, kids in front of video games and computers instead of outside playing, two parents at work for 12 hours a day... I'll risk sounding like a TV evangelist. But what's the answer?
I think that any of us who have kids today have to look no further than ourselves the next time we roll our eyes and say "kids today" when we see a table full of baseball clad kids eating lunch and carrying on like its frat night.
Then I turn on the news and watch how our elected representatives conduct themselves... well that's a whole different post, isn't it!