Do you have children? A child? If they’re older, remember what they were like when they were toddlers? In my day, it was called “the terrible twos” and for older ones, (three or four) the years of tantrums. I actually didn’t experience much of that but I know those parents that did. No matter what they did, whatever punishment they gave, it never seemed to settle the child down enough. I know those that even spanked their kids (I never did that), and still, a day, two, whatever later, the same temperament would exhibit itself. My solution was to pick her up, give her kisses and tickles until the mood passed. Oh, there was punishment when needed! It never included hitting.
My parents were part of The Greatest Generation; that generation that sacrificed so much during the Second World War. My Father fought in the Pacific, my mother, a high school girl, did her part, like every civilian, supporting the war effort by gathering cans and bottles, old clothes – whatever could be reused in support of the troops. They grew up in a very different age: The order of the day was Spare the rod, spoil the child. So yes, it wasn’t unusual for them, at any young age to be disciplined harshly. When I was older, my mother used to tell my sister and me stories of her childhood, and a few from my father, which he never, ever, mentioned to either of us his entire life. Today, we might call what happened to them as child abuse and if we new of a neighbor or relative that treated their children in the same way, would probably notify our local Department of Children Services.
That was a different time though. And although my parents never hit either of us, they were fairly strict and punishment, could be severe (sans physical contact). We grew up in a time of relative peace and security. there was enough to eat, a nice roof over our heads, and decent clothes to wear. Sure, in the early 1960’s there were the regular Duck and Cover exercises, to “protect” us from a Soviet nuclear attack, but how many six or seven year olds, even then, would understand what that meant? Imagine believing ducking under your desk would save you from a nuclear attack. But, mostly we were obedient and believed what adults told us. Then came the mid-to-late sixties.
In 1968, we moved to Southern California. I think for me it was my coming out. I had never been around people my own age that were so different from those I had grown up around before. It was, as we have seen in historical documentaries, a time of peace, love, and the ubiquitous, Rock-n-Roll. My parents, reluctantly, gave my sister and I more freedom. Sure, we still had strict times to be home, but California was the first place, on a Friday night, there were PSA’s of, It’s Ten O’clock, Parents, do you know where your children are? Oh wait! They also did another one, but swap Parents and Children. Yes, it was a different time and as I look back now, a tiny time capsule of what we have become today.
Well, we grew up and many of us had our own families. We are the Baby Boomer generation. We knew better how to raise our kids – much more than our parents that had survived another Great War. But did we? I was different from many of my hight school peers. I didn’t immediately get married after, nor did I go to college and then right after that, begin a family. I took a different route. During those early days, I decided that I would indeed not get married and have a family based on having to visit the widow and small children of those friends that had fallen. Looking into those tiny faces, I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through that for me. And so it was decades later for me. Even though I was much older than a new dad should be, I was happy to see the face of my daughter when she was born. Every thing I had then, and today, is about how much I love her. I’ve raised her for almost ten years now as a single dad. I have not regretted a moment of that time even though, being a single parent can be difficult. And no, to repeat, I’ve never raised a hand to her, nor have I ever raised my voice, unless it was to call her to a meal (Which, if you have kids, is rare. they know when mealtime is supposed to be).
It seems though that many of my generation raised their children to be something of what they believed society should be and those children passed that along to their offspring. No winners or losers. Everyone is exactly the same – or should be. None of that is reality. Of course there are winners and losers. If there weren’t the entire sports (high school, college, professional) arena that millions (billions?) watch and attend yearly would be dead. Everyone, in every company would be at least a vice-president because, you know, even if you’re a horrible employee, you’ll be promoted ( the Peter Principle).
Sme believe they are entitled. Others believe that they have been oppressed. The latter claim is untrue, the former, is spot on. We have raised at least two generations of people that have no concept of what life actually us and that’s the fault of my generation, which began the entire “freedom means free” mantra. We’ve raised generations today that have no idea of the value of work. They’ve been given everything they desire, and of course when their desires aren’t met, are those same “terrible twos” we had to try and comfort so long ago.
We’re lost as a society, no matter the country one resides, because we have failed our children – and theirs – to understand what it means to be a member of that same society.. We’re now, in many countries, destroying our own history simply because it makes some uncomfortable. If there’s no history, how can there be a future?