I have seen this newspaper clipping floating around the internet for a while now and it suddenly struck me that maybe the judge is talking to the wrong people.
Maybe the people who need these words are the parents. And they need to be said to them before their kids become teens (heck, before they even become parents!).
Parents with idle, unproductive and/or disobedient teens walk around with a confused look on their faces and wonder “How did this happen? How did my precious baby boy/girl become like this?”
The answer: you taught them.
You are the source. If you wanted to avoid this you should have not waited so long to teach them about responsibility, work, and contributing to society. Being a friend and not a parent is damaging a generation of children to rely on others to make it in life.
So how do you avoid this?
My answer is this: Put your kids to work! Make them make their beds, their lunches and do their own laundry. Have them clean the kitchen, the toilets and empty the garbage. If they do it to your satisfaction, reward them for doing the work. Start this early in their lives so they know they can take care of themselves when they move out of your house.
You do not owe your children a lifestyle with the latest in clothes, gadgets, or vacations. It won’t hurt them to stay home on the weekends without any ‘planned’ family activity or summer vacations where their every minute is full of active, engaging, “educational” field trips. Teach them that it is okay to be home with your family and not have anything planned.
Yes, family outings are important, but they don’t need to be constant and expected. Constant activity teaches kids that they need to be entertained and have ‘something’ to do. Let them learn to entertain themselves.
Teach them that you don’t owe them anything. When they learn this at a young age, they will learn to rely on their own time, energy and talent.
Teach them to think about others’ feeling and situations. People enjoy the company of those who have empathy and understanding. If they constantly hear you gossiping or criticizing another person, they will grow up being a gossip and critical.
Stop teaching your kids to be crybabies by learning the word ‘no’. It’s pretty powerful and is an efficient training tool for behavior. Teach them that when they don’t get their way that it is a part of life and it’s best to learn how to handle it in the safety of your home rather than in the “real world.”
Teach them to have a backbone! Let them handle hard situations with siblings and peers. Guide them through the issues without stepping in each time to “fix” it. By all means when it gets to a point where they cannot solve the problem or handle the situation then step in, but let them try at first. It will build confidence and interpersonal skills.
They will behave as a responsible person when you teach them to be responsible. Let them try and if they fail, praise them for trying, encourage them to not give up, and guide them in the right direction. If you expect them to be responsible as a teen when you never expected it when they are children then you are failing them.
Don’t be the parent who is trying to fix your own childhood issues by overcompensating with your children. Your children don’t know what your issues were and frankly, they don’t care. They only know their world and it is a world you are helping create.
So what world are you creating?
A world where you, the parent, will do everything for your kids and give them everything they ask without their effort to earn it?
Or are you creating a world where they realize that they are going to be a productive member of society where they have to take care of themselves, work hard for what they want, and think of others beyond themselves?