As it happens from time to time I was forced to brave the throngs of shoppers this weekend. In the name of great sales I ventured to the local mall. Let me just say that for all of the hype… the sales sucked. Anyway, as I maneuvered my way through the convulsing masses of post-Christmas bargain shoppers, I could not help but note the dispositions of our younger generation. Perhaps it is age slowly creeping up on me the way I swore, as a child, that it would not. But I find myself utterly and completely dismayed by what I see. Young girls and boys walking about, as capricious youths do, dressed and speaking in manners that would make a trollop and a sailor blanch. Today’s Pop culture has gotten out of hand. I’ve noticed this before, but I find myself more and more perplexed by how this is happening as the years go by. No doubt that this has been said of every generation. That being said, I cannot help but think that it has escalated even further than it had for my generation and that of the one preceding mine.
I, myself, am a member of the aptly self titled Y-bother generation. In my hay-day the trends were monstrously baggy and sagged jeans, untucked and unbuttoned flannel shirts, and longer (but kept) hair parted down the middle. While these were the trends for young and teenage boys care to guess how many of those trends I partook in? None. Not one. Though in fairness when I was 16-17 I was allowed to wear loose fitting jeans. Never sagged. God help me if I had ever done that. (I’ll explain why later)
Nowadays, the trend for young males is much akin to my generation. Exchange the flannel for a T-shirt so large that it could easily fit a Sumo wrestler with room to spare and you have the current style. Of course, the alternative to that looks like something out of a 70’s movie shot in the 80’s replete with painted on torn up jeans, “vintage” too tight and small polo (collar flipped up optional), and a myriad of wrist bands. The more unkept their hair looks the better. In fact, if you don’t wash it for a week and keep adding gel, you’ll get there. As for the girls, it seems like the closer they get to looking like a hooker the better. I see these 12-16yr old girls walking around in skirts so short that I’d be shocked NOT to know the color of their panties, if they’re even wearing them; for as low as those skirts are sitting I don’t see how they could be. Couple that with tight V neck shirts (a lot of which don’t come to the belly button) and enough make-up to make clown jealous and you have a “Lady of the night” in the makings. This isn’t to say that all of the youngsters are like this… but the vast majority that I see are.
The language and talk of this generation, while not too dissimilar to that of my own, has become far more mature in content. Some of the things that I hear these kids say… Wow! In the interest of fairness and full disclosure I’ll admit that I’ve been known to use obscenities that would make any stalwart Marine redden. However, I’m an adult, and it took me years to learn said obscenities and to understand their meanings. Yet this generation, that I propose we label XXX, seems to have a full complete grasp of every vulgar term and word that I’ve ever heard, much less used. Not only do they have the vulgarities down pat but their conversations have the maturity content of that of socially liberal 25yr olds (giggling aside). How is it that some young boy knows just how to nibble on a fledgling woman’s ear while he bends her over… (I’ll stop there)? How is it that these not yet licensed to drive teens know the joys of multiple orgasms? Explain to me, someone, how these young ladies already know what “personal massagers” are really for? Or, how to use what’s between their legs to get what they want??? We’re talking about an age group of 12-16 here… Not 18-25.
It’s the culture today. Just as every generation has its own (usually media related) culture, generation XXX has its. However, just because it is a culture that approves or encourages these behaviors and appearances doesn’t mean that the children should be acquiescing to it. Most people blame the music, or the TV, or the movies. Many folks, even amongst the conservative crowd, suggest that we censor the mediums that this culture uses to reach the kids (i.e. TV, Music, Movies). I couldn’t disagree more. Nope, no censorship is warranted here.
When I was younger we had a novel concept that I strongly suspect was a staple in most households for the better part of the life of mankind. This concept is called RULES. The rules were set in place, known to myself and my sister, and enforced by my parents. By enforced I mean that they were consistently enforced. If I skipped school or did something wrong I KNEW what I had coming to me; because each every time I broke the rules I got a punishment. As my step-father always said “This house is not a democracy, it’s a dictatorship, and while you live in it you only have the rights and privileges that I grant you”. I hated it then… but I’m thankful for it now. My parents, when we lived in Colorado and actually had cable, regulated when and what I watched. I may have thought that it was cruel or ridiculous at the time but looking back now, I get it. I wasn’t allowed to dress just any way. I had to dress respectably regardless of what my peers wore. Appearance is important… people judge you and your kin by what they initially see. I wasn’t allowed to hang out with just anyone either. My parents took the time to know who my friends were, and if they were trouble – I didn’t get to hang out with them anymore. My parents also taught me morals and scruples (that isn’t Russian money). I was taught principles and the differences between right and wrong. As a result of these things I never did drugs, I never went to jail, and I went on to lead a successful life. I also developed a stronger relationship with my parents than what I see in today’s generation of youngsters. Parents seem more interested in being their child’s friend. Parents, you are NOT your child’s friend. You are their Parent so act like it.
The solution to the decaying morality and decency of today’s youth does not lie in the censorship of media. It lies in the hands of parents doing what they are supposed to do. Regulate and educate your children! Frankly, we shouldn’t need content warnings on TV shows and video games. Parents should be paying attention and determining what is appropriate. You, as parents, should check out the video games BEFORE you buy them. Watch the TV show BEFORE you let your child watch it (or watch it with them and end the program should it be inappropriate). You, as parents, should take responsibility for the clothes and language of your child. I would NEVER let my daughter (should I be fortunate enough to have one) leave the house dressed as these girls do today. I would teach my girl the value of self-respect and dignity. That, while sex may be prevalent in today’s media, she does NOT need to be a part of it. It doesn’t make her cool, it makes her a slut (inevitably). I would teach her to respect her body and to value herself enough to not share it with the world. Likewise for my son. He would NEVER leave the house looking like the hoodlums that I see today. I would teach him that if he wished to succeed in life he would have to dress for it. The more respectable that he looked and acted the more respectable of woman that he would eventually draw. I would teach him that sagging your pants isn’t cool at all. For those of you not in the know. “Sagging pants” was started in prisons back in the early 60s (possibly earlier). Care to guess what it was for? It was what the boys did to show other prisoners that they were available…. Now it appears to be a fashion statement. One that no respectable parent would let their young boy make! Yet it seems that today’s parents have less vested interest in their children. Granted, nowadays in most households both parents have to work (if there are two parents in the house to begin with). However, that is no excuse for letting your kid do as they please. I know I’ve already stated it but it bears repeating. You are NOT your child’s friend. You are their parent. You are the adult. You are the arbiter of their LIFE. I’m not saying that you can’t be a friend when they need one. What I am saying is that first and foremost you are a parent. So as a parent, do your job! If you find yourself wondering why your child talks to you the way that they do, or has no respect for you and your rules, or why they act out… Go look in the mirror mom and dad. Chances are high that you spent more time trying to earn their friendship than you did their respect. Chances are that you never instilled discipline into their daily lives. Chances are high that you didn’t realize that they need to earn YOUR trust, not the other way around. Your child will trust you if they respect you. Again, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be their friend when they need one. It IS to say that your primary job is to be the parent, be the adult, set the rules and hold the child accountable.
How you discipline your child is up to you but an old adage comes to mind “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. Don’t be so afraid of their fragile self-esteem that you fail to use the belt should the situation warrant it. I will also suggest that you avoid the advice of Dr. Spock. You can see how well it worked out for his family.