I can remember it like it was yesterday. My dad would force us to look up from playing Atari so he could ramble on about the fact that when he was a child he only played with sticks and boxes.
"We didn't have video game systems and we actually played outside!" he exclaimed. My brother and I rolled our eyes incessantly and returned to our game of Space Invaders.
Now, I'm a mother and I find myself saying the same types of things to my children. The other day, my seven-year-old complained about having to do research for a homework assignment. I said,
"When I was a kid we didn't have the Internet. If we needed to learn about a subject we had to go to the library or read an encyclopedia." Of course, I had to further tell him that an encyclopedia was a book filled with information about topics, kind of like Wikipedia but in book form. He looked as if he felt sorry for me that my childhood was so hard.
Beyond all the modern conveniences that kids have access today, I've noticed that children are being granted more and more rights. I know that almost every generation looks at the ones that follow and feels that they have it too easy, but many children these days have no idea how good they have it.
My parents have told me many times that when they were young, kids were seen and not heard. Their parents had the last say and they weren't allowed to exert their opinion. They just had to obey and if they didn't, they would get a spanking.
Lucky for me, my parents weren't quite so strict with us, but they did have high expectations. We were required to call our parents "sir and "ma'am" when we addressed them. Now, we aren't quite as formal in my own home. Our kids call us Mom and Dad.
I've also noticed most children call adults that aren't their parents by their first name these days. None of my friend's little ones call me Mrs. Hewett, they call me Leigh. Honestly, I prefer that because I feel that Mrs. Hewett is my mother-in-law, but I wonder if a level of respect is being lost by not taking on my formal name.
I can't help but take pause when I think about the current crop of kids and wonder what the future holds for them in adulthood. We live in a world where many parents are willing stop an adult conversation to talk to their child if he or she tugs on their sleeve to ask a question. If I had tried to pull that with my dad, I would have gotten the stink eye and a serious talking to when we got home.
I'm not suggesting I'm a perfect parent. I've been known to my kids so that I can have a moment of peace to talk on the phone. Yet, as my children grow and I grow as a parent, I'm finding it more important to raise my children to not have a sense of entitlement and to have respect for grown-ups.
I am redefining the rights that I grant to my boys. I know for certain they have a right to feel loved, protected, and taken care of. However, they do not have the right to interrupt adults or dictate many of the choices that we make in our home, such as what they are allowed to watch on television.
Hell, when I was a kid, we not only had little say in what we watched but we didn't even own a remote control. I had to sit on a pillow in front of the TV and actually turn a knob to flip the channels. My dad made ME be the human remote control. Kids these days have no idea how good they have it!
Do you think that children in the current generation have too many rights? What sort of rules and privileges do you give your children in your home? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.