Do you think kids today are different from previous generations? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 06-09-2014, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Do you think kids today are different from previous generations?

So, putting aside the obvious differences that come with cultural change: kids growing up in the 70s didn't have ipads or cell phones, etc, and kids have more supervision, for better or for worse. Not talking about that kinda thing. To hear older parents put it, kids today are much more rude, disrespectful, out of control. Parents are permissive and don't know how to discipline, etc. How much of this do you think is truth, and how much do you think is selective memory? As time goes on, one might remember more of the good parts of raising children and less of the struggles.

Or, do you think children really are, inherently, different? A fb convo made me think about this. Someone posted a link to a book they've found helpful. Someone else commented that after a couple spanks with a wooden spoon, her kids figured out who is in charge. (To which I commented that she's lucky her kids were so easy that that was all it took..good grief) This particular fb friend, as well as myself, have difficult children who just don't respond to traditional discipline. And around these forums, it seems like a common thing to hear about: kids for whom punishment of any kind just plain doesn't work (regardless of one's opinion on using punishment at all) Back to a common theme we hear about from previous generations: back in the day, supposedly parents disciplined their children and magically they were respectful of their parents/other adults and behaved. Where were these "difficult" kids back then?

So, what do you think? Is it a memory problem? Did we, as a culture, shift to the point that parents struggle with discipline much moreso than previous generations? Or are children today born with different temperaments?

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#2 of 3 Old 06-09-2014, 06:48 PM
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Wow that is such an interesting question. I do think that parenting styles are much different these days than when I was young (which was 1960's). The 70/s and 80's were the years that children's self esteem got a lot research and attention. I think the pendulum swung in the direction of parents not wanting to do anything to upset or disappoint their precious orchid. IMO this led the the "milennium child." The young adult that feels that the world owes him/her a living and that organizations are there for their own professional development, not as something to have a loyalty toward. I am a hiring manager and I have seen a major difference in 10 years in the attitudes of young staff looking for jobs.

So I do think it is the parenting. Kids have been a lot less accountable. More parents go to bat to yell at teachers and principals rather than hold their own kid responsible, for example. There is more suggestion and guidance than discipline. In my own circle of friends/community it is the rare child that remembers to thank me for a ride after a movie, or addresses me respectfully. I do make my children do these things, and I don't let them get away with NOT doing them,but I feel like I am the exception. And this is a rural community.
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#3 of 3 Old 06-09-2014, 08:15 PM
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I think there are three things:
1-Children are out in the world a lot more now. Once upon a time, when I was a kid, we didn't go along when mom went to the grocery store, once we were 6ish or older. We stayed home, either with an older sibling, or with a neighbor keeping an eye on us now and then. We walked places, and we did less scheduled classes anyway, which meant kids had less interaction with random strangers, who nowadays give kids the stink eye for just being kids.

2-Correspondingly, I think adults behave worse and are selfish. When I was a kid, people were pretty tolerant, when I was a child and when I was in high school and college babysitting. This may have had something to do with kids not being out in general public as much. But I don't recall anyone being outright insanely rude to me or younger siblings on airplanes, for example. I don't think we behaved any differently on planes than my kids do. (My siblings are much younger than me, so I remember pretty well being on a plane with 4 year old brothers). Fliers have been utterly crazy toward my kids, and to strangers kids when I've flown without my kids. Absolutely insane turning around screaming about how the kid is kicking their seat (that was when my child was asleep in a car seat that faces backward, making it physically impossible for him to kick the guy's seat). I rolled my eyes, said "really? You know his feet are facing away from you, right?" "Well, stop him from kicking my seat." "Sir, the laws of physics are already 'stopping him." I'm pretty sure it was the full grown airhead adult sitting next to him who kept bouncing in her chair, hence moving his seat, but he decided it had to be the sleeping 18 month old who was FACING THE OTHER WAY because he would never think badly of a hot babe!

3-Children are different, because they're treated differently than children in other generations, generally taught that their opinions are extremely important. Many kids talk to adults more. I've had kids who want to tell me their life story at the playground as an explanation for why they want to play with my kids' toy even though we're leaving. Once it was a kid who went on and on about how much she loved the particular food we had in our lunch. I'd never have done that as a kid. (My kid would never do that either). But it's not *that* big a deal. In those cases, I just tell the kids "Huh. You need to go talk to your mom/dad/nanny about that (and give me the toy first.)"

There are some entitled, opinionated, annoying kids. But there always were. I don't think there are actually that many more of them. I think adults run into kids more often, kids talk to adults more often, and adults are more selfish and poorly behaved. All that said, I think in the 70s, people thought kids were out of control, etc. It's a tale as old as time to grump about the young.

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Last edited by LitMom; 06-10-2014 at 07:08 AM.
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