Old dogs can learn new tricks-if they are motivated. For the longest time I believed that if we just got back to the ‘old days’ where kids learned how to be good citizens meaning doing things the way WE were taught to do things today’s kids would be better off, parents would be happier and we could all live better more complete lives.
This old dog has seen a new day dawn. I don’t believe that we will ever get back to ‘the good old days’ where kids valued their elders and did as they were told. Those ideals don’t resonate with today’s ‘new kids’ and so parents, be they single or co-parents, grandparents or adoptive parents, need to learn some ‘new approaches’ to parenting if they want their kids to have some semblance of responsibility in their lives.
Parents or care givers need to begin to understand that not all kids see the world the same way nor do they strive to have or share the same value systems that adults insist they demonstrate. All we need to do is look around at what is happening with our children-how they dress, talk and conduct themselves in public and the proof of this is quite evident. They are trying to tell us something important by much of their behaviour and we are not listening. When I think about how adults have conducted themselves in the last 2 generations we have no claim to the high ground-that’s for sure.
A good part of who I am as a man in the world centres, or at least used to centre, on the inherent good in people. I still believe that but the ‘new trick’ is that I have to change MY perspective and MY attitude toward our kids and not the other way around. They have been born into the mess that WE have created. They are only reacting to what we have taught them or shown them. Let’s consider some of what our kids are dealing with today:
1. They live with a definite need to feel they belong somewhere and that they have purpose but instead we have taught them to believe in: Money, power, deception, mistrust and a stubbornness to continue to do things that are just not good for us–making war on others comes to mind.
2. We do a poor job of helping our young men transition from boyhood to manhood. I wrote a book on this topic called: ‘A Man’s Work Is Never Done: A Novel About Mentoring Our Sons’. By all accounts most who read it liked it. Check it out on my web site at jimcloughley.com. If you want to learn more contact me at: email@example.com
3. Crushing peer pressure-goes along with bullying.
4. A conflicted and distorted view of their sexuality.
5. Despite what we are being told the alcohol/drug problems of our kids is growing and suicide rates are climbing. 4 out of 5 teen suicides are committed by young men. Rather disproportionate I’d say.
6. A growing feeling of not being connected anywhere. This adds to the growing teenage mental health issues such as depression and anger. (See number 5 above) Part of this feeling of being disconnected comes from both parents working.
7. One of the more serious issues for me is the role models that have taken over for parents. Just watch MTV or any of the video games out right now and you might see what I mean. Young women are hearing about the value of ‘looking good’ and what ‘looking good looks like’. The media supports the idea of freedom of expression and the fashion industry keeps pushing the idea of less is more. Then feminists go after men for subjugating women–really? Most of the models are women. Pretty confusing stuff for everyone. Tie this into behaviours that are now acceptable and we see very skewed morals and values that our kids need to try to make sense of. And what will they teach their kids?
What do/can we do? We, as the ‘old dogs’ must learn/create a whole set of ‘new tricks’ so that we can become mentors and examples for our kids to emulate once again but on their terms and not ours. Yes we can if we are motivated to make it happen. In order to do that we have to make the effort to understand what motivates our kids today.
1. Fairness, acceptance, belief in the inherent good in people, help your neighbour and those in need. We need to explain the benefits of these old values but we need a new method of delivering the message. Who delivers this new message and how do they deliver it are the ‘new tricks’ of the day. Who will our kids learn it from?
2. Kids ask more questions now and the answers have to make sense to them-relevant in THEIR world and their reality.
3. Expect and accept different behaviours and efforts to find solutions to the issues of their day. We can no longer insist on our kids doing it as we did it.
4. Our kids live in the world of ‘quick’. Results need to be much quicker than they were for us.
5 We need to understand that they are not as likely to believe ‘it’ just because we say it is so. They don’t trust us as we tended to trust our parents. If it is on the web-it must be true now.
So. The above are 5 ‘new tricks’ that we must consider if we are to remain relevant to our kids. If we can’t do this we are in danger of losing any influence we have left. It doesn’t need to be that way but we must, as old dogs, be smarter and more innovative.
Anyways, that’s how I see it. All the best, Jim
Comments are always welcomed. Connect with me through: jimcloughley.com OR firstname.lastname@example.org
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