Protecting our children’s mental health: It begins with respect

“The children now have luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority;

They show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

Do you think that the above quote is in reference to today’s children? Those words were written by the Greek Philosopher Socrates over two thousand years ago. Yet we know that those words are applicable to many of our children today.

Recently I was talking with a teacher within our school system about the pupils in his class. He told me stories of the unruliness of some of his students, and the disrespect they have for teachers; using foul language, cursing at the teachers, bullying other students, etc.; and even requiring the security guard to be called in to intercede with extreme negative behaviors.

He even told me that when the teachers and the principal called in the parent/s that they took the part of the student; using foul language, and often becoming disrespectful and belligerent themselves. Right up front I wish to say that most of parents within our society are most responsible, and are raising a great bunch of children…most evident in the exceptional behaviors they have; it is only a small faction that are not.

The breakdown of our societal folkways, mores, and values has brought about havoc to our nation; and had a most profound effect on the mental wellbeing and life of our children.

Until the 1950s in our nation, the traditional “single breadwinner” family consisted of a Mother, Father, and Children. With the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s all of that began to change, and brought about a myriad of problems within our culture.

Many of the new generation; “Generation X’ers,” “Millennial’s”; being egoistical, so concerned about themselves, are now having children whom they are parenting with poor skills; or not even parenting at all.

Is it any wonder then that there are children who learn the negative behavior of their parents; do not show respect (even for themselves) and act out in unruly manners?

In studies conducted by Philip Cohan, a Sociologist at the University of Maryland; he found that in the 1950s over 70 percent of all children under the age of 15 were raised in the traditional family, “breadwinning” homes. Today only about 20 percent are.

He further found that 23 percent of children are now raised by a single mother, of whom only one-half have ever been married.

Further, he found that 7 percent of children live with a parent who co-habitats with an unmarried partner, 3 percent live with a single father, and 3 percent live with grand-parents but no parents.

He notes that the decline of marriage is what has really changed in our society…there has been a rapid rise in single parenthood.

It is my contention, and that of my colleagues, that this shift in our societies basic fabric has resulted in most of the problems we have today, most evident to the majority of our citizenry; an increase in substance abuse and addictions, crime, etc. As example, over one-half of the inmates in our penal institutions were raised in a home without a father present. Nowhere has the shift been more evident that with the health and welfare of our children.

Although it is true that the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s paved the way for much improvement in our society…changing rights with gender issues, the ethnic issues, improvements in prevention of child abuse and neglect, new approaches to poverty, etc. Along with these good changes, however, it also brought with it the problems previously mentioned (substance abuse, increase in crime, juvenile delinquency, etc.) and the way that parental figures interact with their children, and vice versa.

Being a parental figure is very difficult today, especially when it comes to providing discipline of children. Many parents that I have counseled with were most concerned on how they may discipline their child, without being accused of child abuse and/or neglect…they are confused. Children are taught about child abuse and neglect in their schools (which is a good thing), some taking this knowledge to extremes; using it as an excuse not to do chores assigned by their parents, refusing to mind their teachers or parents, etc. For some of these children, they, not their parental figures, are in control of the family unit; and extend this egoistical thinking and behavior to teachers and others. Many are losing, or have lost, the concept of respect.

In this era we find that many children “ape” movie stars, “rappers,” football players, and others; many whom are really not virtuous role models to have. From the movies and the “rapper musicians” (I have a difficult time in even calling that music) they learn inappropriate language and behaviors. The sports figures with their long hair, disfiguring multiple tattoos, their egoistical attitudes, dishonoring our National Anthem and Flag are in my opinion, a very poor example to our children as well.

The TV programs and TV commercials showing sexually explicit material, some bordering on pornography; the viewing of which is very difficult for the parents/care-givers to control their children’s viewing at all times, and which leads to sexual identify disorders and the incorrect messages concerning sexual issues. Becoming addicted to the smart phone and the internet are also issues that should always be addressed with our young people.

Another issue is the destruction and removal of statues representative of our American Heritage, with the sole purpose of further de-unification and disparity within our American Culture. All of these issues, as well as many others, play a most significant role in our children’s thoughts and behavior; primarily, respect for themselves and others. Is it any wonder that our children are having such extreme difficulty with their self-worth and self-esteem that they have a need to act out against others; even against their own self (youth suicide in our Nation is at an all time high)?

Although there are a number of things that can be done by parents/care-givers concerning the behaviors of our Young people, the most important issue concerns respect; respect for one’s self, for others, and respect for others property. This involves teaching our children good communication and coping skills, positive values, and other skills necessary in development of their self-esteem and relationships with others.

I suggest all parents read up on the subject of parenting. I firmly believe that the child’s parent/s essentially want to do what is best for their children, although some need a lot of help in doing so. Until Next Time, Stay Healthy My Friends.