Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"I Am Not Going To Do To My Children What My Parents Did To Me"

Let me start this post by being very clear that the purpose of The Critical Thinker is to foster debate and not necessarily have everyone who reads it agree with me. As a matter of fact it is not my desire to have everyone who reads The Critical Thinker to agree with me as the design and purpose of it is to make you think. Yes, pause and think. I also need to point out that because the blog is called The Critical Thinker, it does not necessarily mean that I am criticizing. There is a difference between critically thinking and criticizing. When I write these posts, I do so based on observations I make as I go through my daily walk in life and how I look at things and ask myself the question “Is anyone looking at this from a different perspective ?“ or are we just mindlessly wandering and walking by and not giving any thought to anything? Just walking by totally oblivious……. I preface this post with this because I know there are going to be those who read this and think that I'm being judgmental or that I'm criticizing and I'm not doing either. I am just pointing out things as an observation based on my experiences.

As most of you know, I am an educator who work with children every day and in my opinion the next fifteen words may well have contributed to the ruination of one or more generations particularly in the African-American community. These words are "I am not going to do to my children what my parents did to me.” Many African-Americans who migrated to the North in the 40s, 50s and 60s were reared/raised in states such as North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia etc. and were raised by parents who did not have a problem with disciplining their children. They understood the difference between discipline and abuse. They also understood the value of hard work and the rewards achieved upon completing that work.

Many of the children of those parents moved to the North and vowed to themselves that they would not do to their children what their parents did to them; meaning disciplining them and teaching them how to work. It is in my observation that because they are not doing to their children what their parents did to them (disciplining and teaching the value of a work ethic) that we have lost one or two generations, particularly in the African-American community.

We all in the African American community can recount the stories of having to go out and get your own switch to beat your own behind with. We all can recount the stories of folks who had to work before they went to school, go to school and work some more when they returned home from school. We all can recount the stories of these same folks having to have walked 8-10 miles to school and those same 8-10 miles back home. The question becomes were these people really any worse off for having to have had these experiences? It seems they learned the value of an education and why they needed to have one. It seems they understood the connection between their chores and their being able to function productively as an adult and yet many of them moved to the North and actively chose to abandon the work ethic, education ethic, and yes even moral ethics they were raised with all in the name of “I am not going to do to my children what my parents did to me.” You are indeed not doing to your children what your parents did to you and we are paying a price for it.

I see children every day who are allowed to do anything they would like to do in the name of “I am not going to do to my children what my parents did to me.” I am referring to children of all ages beginning with a kindergartners who have been spoiled by this vow who feel they ought to have their own way and they get it whether what they want is good for them or not. This pattern continues throughout the toddler, (many think it’s “cute”) adolescent, teen and then adult years causing them to believe that they are entitled to getting their way regardless of rules, regulations or structure.

From where I sit, it is this vow of “I am not going to do what my parents did to me” that is causing us to have children who do not know how to do anything for themselves or take responsibility for anything. Many of them don't know how to wash dishes, iron, vacuum the floor, dust the furniture, take out the garbage, make up a bed or clean up a bedroom, sweep the kitchen floor, clean the bathroom, or any other household chore they will need when they become an adult and live on their own. The sad part is they don't even want to learn how to do these things and feel as if someone is always going to do these things for them.

Their parents are responsible for them feeling as if they have a maid service with the parents being the maid.

When I write Critical Thinker blog posts, I don't write to be liked; I don’t write to be agreed with; I write for us to pause and think. I fully recognize that there were some people who truly were abused in the south, however, that was not the majority. Many felt because the work was hard that it was abusive but in reality it was not. It was the work that needed to get done to survive in that era. There were many lessons learned from having to work. There were many lessons learned from having parents who would not allow certain things to happen in their houses. There were many lessons learned like that thing called "consequences" when you had to make that trip out to that tree and bring back a switch to remind you not to do whatever it was that you did again (That was a long walk back no matter how close the tree was).

When you truly think about it, those lessons are missing and we are indeed paying a heavy price for it now. If you haven’t ever thought about it, it is something to critically think about and as always I welcome your commentary in the comment section at the bottom of the blog (and no you don’t have to agree with my view).


Darrell M. said...

Marc, you are dead on with this one. I can't help but agree with you 100%. I think parents are falling into this politically correct way of raising children and black parents are just blind to the fact that they have some bad ass kids. I was a product of having to take that long walk to the woods to get my switch. My parents didn't hesitate to put a belt to my butt, the difference was my parents sat down with me after the fact and explained to me why I got a whippen and told me afterwards they still loved me.
Everytime I hear the word timeout come from a parent I get the urge to want to slap them. That is the problem today. Let a teacher or administrator touch a child, the parents will have a fit. The very reason they are angry at the teacher or administrator is the very reason they are pissed off. I have had parents tell me that they don't put their hands on their child and they don't expect anyone to touch their child either. I rest my case. Maybe if they put their hands on their children when they did wrong and explained to them why they are being punished, maybe, just maybe I won't have 14 and 15 year old kids telling adults where they can go and how they can get there. Wake up parents, it is time to go back to the old school before we lose them all.

Anonymous said...

So, we would believe that there is no such thing as good kids coming out of a parenting system absent of strict physical discipline. So, we would then conclude that the secret sauce that keeps the folks in positions of power in our nation would be physical discipline. I would say that there are a set of behaviors that keep the people in positions of power and it probably does not come down to strict physical discipline. So, despite all that praise that we have lavished on the good old days, that we claim to be the product of, the numbers say despite all of that you are pretty much in the same old spot. For me the anwser really lies in the answer to this question: "What's the value proposition for childern, today?" When we farmed it was easy to see the value proposition of childern as a labor force. The farm was a serious of labor jobs that had to be carried out to make the machine work. And it's human nature to take great care of what one values.

Tammy New said...

Today many of the parents in our communities are very young and either in survival mode, single parents or still trying to figure it all out. I see young mothers yelling at the top of their lungs "Imma beat your MF a$$" to their children while at Walmart or in public.

Reflection of poverty, oppression, broken system, and fallen world...take your pick.

As a teacher (when I worked at a charter school) I've had 2nd graders show up smelling like marijuana, because a young parent smoking it in the car.

So if children are missing out on how to clean and be responsible and prepared for life, its because their parents "LACK" the drive, willingness (and sometimes the skill) to be any better.

Of course this isn't always the case. Hats off to those young parents who are handling-up!I know many young black mothers/fathers who keep their children in church, always have them so well kept, and stay on top of their homework...Love it!!!

Julie H. said...

As parents and grandparents reflect on the good old days and those long walks to and from school maybe that part we as parents need to adopt with our kids. Our kids seem to be getting rounder and wider and more overweight by the second. With that said I look at that statement in a different light. I am from Jamaica and I was one of those who had to go and cut my own whip so that I can be beaten with it and yes I turned out “fine”. I am not a big fan of hitting my son though, I do believe in disciplining him. I don’t believe in time-out at this stage in his live because I am sure he would not learn a thing from it. I talk to him and at times when I believe I am completely out of options I would bop his hands. I don’t like hitting at this stage because toddlers pattern their parents and I have experienced him hitting others before. With that I guess I would be playing the hypocritical role when I tell him to find another outlet another way of expressing himself when I am doing the same thing to him at home. I want to model the behavior I want my child to depict.
Certain things we draw from our past to help us conquer the present and some things are just out of date or just not worth drawing from. We all as parent wants what is best for our child(ren) wanting them to have better /more than what we had. It’s just that sometimes the roads we choose to put these children on are not the best or safest road for them to be on.