Tag Archives: Kids

Are Kids REALLY Getting Worse?

The other day I was talking to a neighbor of mine. She was saying how lately some of the kids in the neighborhood have been acting less polite than usual. And I think when she said lately, she meant the last several years. And because of her age, I was almost ready to discount her statement as just another disgruntled old person’s expected “kids today,” rant.

There is a famous quote that goes something like this: “kids today don’t listen anymore, and they don’t respect their elders, blah blah blah,” which sounds like a common enough complaint. When you realize that was spoken by some Greek guy over two thousand years ago, it becomes apparent that old people grumbling about kids is common to every generation.

But one thing that is different, at least in this particular situation is there are some statistics to back this up. According to several sources, there are less and less people getting and staying married. And there are less and less people attending religious services on a regular basis. Before you click off this page thinking that I’m some right wing family values religious nutcase, please understand I haven’t stepped foot in a church since my fathers funeral, and I think it’s absolutely fantastic that social pressures that keep people in otherwise unhappy marriages are crumbling, giving people freedom that they wouldn’t have enjoyed in other generations.

That being said, I think this is an interesting phenomenon from a scientific, societal standpoint. There are less and less marriages, and many more divorces, which many argue lead naturally to a less stable upbringing for kids. Of course there is the argument that kids are better of with separated or divorced parents than with parents together but at each others throat all the time.

Also, less and less families are attending any kind of church services as a whole. When you combine these two together, you have less positive role models for kids to look up to, which leaves them only with each other to learn how to behave and act in modern society.

Please keep in mind that I am not arguing for people to stay married if they hate each other, or get married if they aren’t ready. Nor am I advocating any church participation of any sort. I jus think it’s interesting to watch the dynamic unfold, and how it will affect society in years to come.

I am a firm believer in personal responsibility, and if you are of the persuasion that it is up to society to teach you morals and proper behavior, and then you are at the mercy of the ebbs and flow of societal trends, be they good or bad.

If, however, you are inclined to choose your own moral path, based upon your own choices and decisions for where you want your own life to lead, then there has never been a better time that right now.

Crumbling influences of society can be good, and it can be bad. Like any other system, those that depend upon it stand to lose when the system has problems. Those that understand the system for what it is, and use it to their advantage usually come out ahead, regardless of their social economic background and upbringing.

Crumbling social pressures to get and stay married may make finding and keeping a partner more difficult, but much more rewarding once they are found.

Similarly, releasing oneself from the restrictions of the two thousand year old religious moral authority may seem frightening at first, but when you realize you can make your own rules, (so long as you are prepared to live with the consequences,) you can gain so much more power.

What many come to realize is that when they choose their own path in life, they find that their own personal code of morals and ethics closely mimic the beneficial ones from religion. Don’t kill, steal, or covet, or lie. And as a bonus, some of the stuff is supposedly bad, isn’t so bad after all.

Like sex and money are perfectly fine so long as you make sure everybody is happy, and nobody gets hurt. Of course, if you’re going to make more people, then you need to be sure they grow up with the best resources, mental and otherwise, to achieve their dreams in life as well. Maybe that’s what my neighbor was getting at.

What’s Important About That?

I met an old friend of mine for dinner the other night. He seemed really upset about something. I kept pressing for details, but he didn’t want to upset my seemingly good mood. I have been on an interesting diet lately, and many people have been telling me that I look like I’ve lost weight, so I’ve been able to act a little happier than normal. But finally, my friend caved and told me his problem.

Turns out he and his wife had been planning on taking a vacation as soon as they could get their respective vacation times at their jobs to coincide. Their bigger plan is to take on last vacation together, kind of like a second honeymoon (even though they’ve only been married 2 years) before starting to build a family.  Seems that they take a pragmatic approach. Get married. Save money. Have kids.

“So what’s the problem?” I asked. “You guys sound like you’re really together! You guys are able to plan your life together, and make your plans that that you an easily achieve them. You are a lot better than most people. Most people shoot first, then maybe think about aiming in couple weeks. What gives?”

After my friend explained his problem to me, I understood. It seems that they both had their respective hearts set on a specific vacation place. And they both assumed that the other person had agreed to go to their place. And when they sat down to plan their fun, they realized that they weren’t on the same page. And since they both kind of viewed this as a ‘last vacation together’ kind of thing, neither of them wanted to budge.

Which is interesting in and of itself. Most people can make plans, and then follow through. But we can run into problems when you don’t communicate well with others who will be involved in those plans. It’s like when other people don’t object, we assume that they will go along with us. I reminded my friend about this, as raising a kid requires that you be flexible and communicate well. I asked my friend that since they were both guilty of the same thing, if they could compromise.

“What do you mean, compromise?” My friend asked. “I want to go here, and she wants to go there. They are totally different. One person has to lose for the other to win.” Aha. I thought I saw the problem.

I was reminded of a business negotiation seminar I took. We would role play being different business situations, and practice these negotiation skills. For example, a Union Boss would want more health benefits, more vacation time, and higher pay. The Business Manager would want to save money wherever possible. The trick in being a negotiator, was to keep asking “What’s important about that?” Until you got a point where the Union Boss and the Business Manager could find a solution that would satisfy both of their respective deeper needs.  

For example, the Union Boss’s underlying concern was that the workers would realize that the company was serious about taking care of them, as the increases in health benefits and wages were really only symbolic. And the Business Manager was concerned with the long term growth of the company. As a ‘pretend’ negotiator, I explained to the Union Boss that the more stable the Business manager thought the future of the company was, the more willing he’d be to extend their long term contracts. And I explained to the Business Manager that by giving just a little bit of a raise, they would be much more willing to lock in that rate if it were for an extended contract period.

It was an interesting seminar that taught a lot about negotiating, and the importance of communication. Especially when you are able to find out what’s important to the people you care about, so when you make plans for the future, you can be sure to involve everyone.

I explained this to my friend, and we actually role played a few scenarios between him and his wife.  After a few practice rounds, he was convinced that they would be able to find a new place which would satisfy both their vacations needs for their second honeymoon. 

They invited me over to dinner a few days later. I tepidly asked them about their vacation, hoping I wasn’t precluding myself from any future dinners by starting world war three.

They both immediately broke into huge grins. Aha! I thought to myself. Maybe they would at least give me partial credit for solving their marital problems. Where would they go? Greece? Italy? Mexico? Maybe they’d let me house sit. They have a really nice, really HUGE flat screen HD TV.

“We canceled our vacation!”


“We decided to put the money into an extra room. We’re building a nursery!”