I go to church usually twice every Sunday. Once in the morning, which is kinda pointless, and then a second time in the afternoon. The morning session is your standard fare church service. I go to a Methodist church nowadays, so pretty much its one big snore fest. Sure, there might be some huge shining light at the end of the sermon, but usually it’s not. Just an opportunity for me to clear my head and reflect on the events of the past week.
I go in the afternoon to help out with our church’s Youth Group. A collection of middle schoolers and high schoolers who come out on Sunday afternoons to hang out with their friends and get away from their parents for a few hours. Although it kinda started because of someone asking me to help out more with the kids, I’ve grown to love it. Not because I’m teaching them about God. Not because I’m teaching them about virtue and all that other stuff. Not because I overly enjoy their company. And I’m damn sure no pedophile.
I love it because it gives me a firsthand glimpse into the mind of adolescents of this new generation with their guards down in an environment that encourages free speaking about what’s going on in their lives.
When I was in middle school and high school, I didn’t have to deal with half the stuff they deal with. And this isn’t just because I was usually 2 years younger than my classmates. It’s due to this new age of technology that they’re embracing. When I was in 6th grade, I would have no use for a Facebook page. Or a BlogSpot. Or a YouTube account. I didn’t even have a Polaroid camera, so I damn sure wouldn’t have a camcorder to film me and my friends “jerkin”.
In this age where the kids are bombarded with everything at a much faster rate, they’re desensitized to a lot of things that were risqué to me when I was growing up. But they aren’t necessarily maturing any faster. There’s a difference. And this difference leads to a much bigger problem that I don’t think we’re adequately addressing in society.
Children spend 8 hrs a day sleeping, 8 hrs at school with their teachers, and 8 hrs in-between. This is eating, socializing, interacting with their parents, and transportation times. Depending on the kid’s economic situation, this could also include working. But there’s no designated parenting time. There’s no one to monitor what sites these kids are going on, or to give them those talks about what kinds of things they should be exposing themselves too.
I went to a restaurant today to watch my beloved Dolphins play and while there I noticed a family of 3: mother, father, and son. The father was there on his laptop, probably checking fantasy football scores and whatnot. The mother was there staring at the father like “Please acknowledge my presence honey”*. And the son was in-between the two, pretty much left to his own devices. Which so happened to be a cell phone and the TV screens around him. That situation represents what a lot of these kids are facing. He’s not getting the nurturing he needs from those whose life he depends on and will ultimately end up deciding their fate when they get older and he is given the reigns to being one of the law-abiding citizens. He ends up having to maneuver blindly on his own. With his only teachers being TV and the Internet.
I’m not saying that all kids are destined to fail, but all parents are destined to fail. Unless changes are made. Until I have kids of my own, I won’t know what the right way to raise kids is. But I damn sure know when I see people doing it wrong.
*The chick was there with her husband for a solid hour that I was there and he acknowledged her presence zero times. Zero times. But I feel zero sympathy for her. She chose that situation. If this guy reacts to her like that in public, I’m willing to bet my left testicle that he treats her like that at home. If you’re a coach and you approach each game like “Just don’t lose”, you won’t win many games. She’s accepted not losing before, and unless some serious change happens, she will continue to not try to lose. And not try to win either.
I'll use any excuse to show that clip. Sue me.