Ruben Navarrette wrote an article recently about the kids in Southern California who decided to wear flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. Much of America wondered if we had gone too far in reversing racism to the point that we cannot even wear clothing with our own flag on it. But Navarette disclosed the other side of the story. The orders from the school were that NO patriotic shirts of any country were allowed to be worn on Cinco de Mayo. When confronted, the 5 boys who went against this order were given the option to either turn their shirts inside out or to just go home. They decided to go home, and the rest is history as they and their parents cried foul against the principal for reverse racism, and the boys were commended for their heroic patriotism.
Navarette goes on to mention the Philadelphia teen who ran out onto the baseball field and gave police quite a chase – until one of them zapped the teen with his stun gun. The nation again cried foul. Navarette asks “What’s more startling — that the officer used a stun gun, or that Consalvi ran onto the field in the first place?”
His final thought has me thinking: “The cultural right wants to cast the story about teenage boys who got in trouble for wearing flag T-shirts as evidence that Americans are losing control of their country. Actually, it’s evidence of something more real and thus more troubling — that many Americans have already lost control of their kids.”
Reading Navarette’s opinion brings to mind news stories in the last couple of years about a local father fighting his son’s speeding ticket by proving the courts wrong through GPS. This same father fought the courts on another of his son’s speeding tickets by claiming it was a speed trap. And more close to home, I’ve heard several parents talk about how they have set their child’s teacher or sports’ coach straight when it appeared their child was being treated unfairly. And yet it’s the same problems they’ve had with teachers or coaches involving their child every single year. And at the same time, it also brings to mind the parents who have written me and told me about times they legitimally fought for their kids rights, and were being ignored unjustly.
Is Navarette on to something here? Have we, as a nation, “lost control of our kids”? Do we know best when it comes to our kids? Or are we hovering too closely to let them learn by suffering the consequences?
I have to voice a definite ‘yes’ in response to this question. I’m not saying that all kids are bad kids or, more to the point, that all parents are bad parents…but I can’t be the only person who has witnessed the depressing and annoying trend of parents who refuse to correct or discipline their children for fear of ‘squashing their creativity’, ‘interfering with their personhood’ or some similar new-age-y pop-psych sentiment.
When I was growing up (in a liberal hippie household, mind you…it isn’t as though my father was a Corporal and beds had to be made upon waking, with hospital corners) there were rules to be followed and I was taken to task for disobeying. Not big giant rules…simple things like common courtesy, the ‘golden rule’, being a good guest at a friend’s house and behaving properly in public. Today, if I hear a young person say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, I generally double-take in shock. A generation of parents afraid of squashing the individuality of their children has led to a generation of tweens, teens and young adults that are jerks with no manners and no respect for authority, sure that if anyone is mean to them, mom and dad will come down on the supposed aggressor like a ton of bricks.
Don’t get me wrong, parents, it’s great to protect your children from the bad things in the world…that’s part of what being a parent IS…but one of the things you have to protect them from is themselves…and apparently YOURSELVES as well. If a teacher gives your child a bad grade on something, there’s a good chance it’s because your child needs to work harder on that subject, not because the teacher is picking on them. Plenty of people from time periods with much stricter values than we have now grew into functional members of society with both manners AND individuality…but if you put no boundaries on your children they just grow up to be entitled tools.
the recipient of a traffic ticket has a constitutional right to oppose it in court. while you have the right not to assert your own rights, there’s something unseemly about criticizing others who do.
@Bruce – Seems like if there are two tickets that have been issued to the same person, the father should be spending less time in court and more time teaching his kid how to drive within the speed limit.
Bruce, please. This is not about fighting a traffic ticket. It’s about a parent who simply REFUSES to see that his child is in the wrong. That father was completely blinded by the halo on his infallible offspring. Teaching your kids that daddy will always come to the rescue and save them (even when they are wrong) is only exacerbating the problem. That child will now have a blatant disregard for the rules because they don’t apply to him.