From generation to generation - FamilyEducation

From generation to generation

July 29,2008
As I sat in an airport restaurant, I watched the baseball game on the big plasma TV. People around me were cheering, hooting, hollering and doing all the things that hardcore fans do when their team is playing. Despite the fact that the team playing was my favorite when I was a kid, caring about sports in such a way has long since passed for me. So, I just watched. The announcers were discussing one of the players and mentioned that he’s just “being himself” and how refreshing it is – even if “being himself” means being petulant and a whiner. Got me wondering – is it harder raising kids today?

Perhaps I'd better explain the train of thought that led to this question.

As the announcers forgave this player for his transgressions against his teammates, the fans and even employees of the team, I thought about all the kids who idolized this player. It made me think about K-Man. What if he were completely into this team and this player. How would I appropriately explain that his hero was kind of a tool? How would I let K-Man know that I didn’t really approve of him idolizing this player, without crushing his little dreams? In short, will it be harder to raise K-Man in this media age?

Sure, of course, this is not the hardest conversation in the world to have. And, yes, it’s one that will be important to have if/when the time comes. If K-Man is into sports at all, there’s a very good chance he’s going to idolize some professional athlete that exemplifies selfishness and greed. So, it’ll be on me to help guide K-Man in the right direction. Yes, I know.

But, again…the big question: Is it harder now? When I was the crazy sports fan kid, did my parents struggle with making sure I idolized the right players? Or were they concerned about where I was being influenced? I remember one particular friend who my parents thought was a bad influence on me. And, ironically, his parents thought I was a bad influence on him. But, I don’t remember any sort of battles about the TV or violent video games.

It just seems that with the Internet, video games and more media, kids have more opportunities to be influenced. Therefore, it would seem that it’s harder to raise kids today than it might have been back in my day – just like it was probably harder to raise a kid in the 60s than it was in the 50s. Rock & Roll and Vietnam will (probably) do that.

But then again – parents only know what they know, right? Can you even compare the generations? Can you compare parenting in one era against another? I’m sure each and every generation thinks they had it the hardest. Those uphill walks to school – to and from – get steeper and the snow gets colder with every new parenting era. And, I also wonder if the explosion of parenting experts makes things better or worse. After all, there do seem to be arguments on both sides of any parenting question. You can almost always find the answer you want to find.

Twenty-five or thirty years from now, when K-Man has his kid (maybe?) there will be other issues to deal with. New issues. Perhaps it’ll be the implants that all kids have in their brains or the practice of safe-beaming from one house to another. Who knows? In all likelihood, however, it’ll be impossible to compare.

So, is it any harder today than it was for our parents? I don’t know. I don’t think that watching a baseball game is going to make that any more clear for me, either. Obviously, one thing remains a constant – we’re going to do the very best we can…just as (I assume) our parents did with us and their parents did with them.