Gosh Darn Kids These Days

“We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self control.” – Inscription, 6000 year old Egyptian tomb

“Kids These Days” seems to be a common catch phrase used to describe all manner of bad behaviour of younger generations, but are “kids these days” any different to kids of any other days?

Today I was walking with my little girl on my way out of my son’s school and she tripped over, dropping her hat and crying out in pain. A boy who was running late to class (running late to class! I know! When I was a child nobody was ever late to class!) stopped, picked up her hat and asked her “Are you okay?”

Yesterday as we came into school I overheard a friend’s son, who is in grade 4, double check that his little brother, who has just started prep, had his hat, bag and everything else he needed and then decline the offer of a playmate to go to the oval saying “I have to walk my brother to his classroom first.”

Most days I watch my boy gently negotiate with his little sister, he says things like “That’s my toy, I was playing with it. When you’re playing with your toys I don’t take them off you, do I?” in a sing-song, pleasantly polite, voice. He doesn’t (often) shout, push or snatch it back from her, but tries to encourage her to make amends. She’s nearly 3, so he’s not always successful, but he tries. He has faith that she’ll do the right thing eventually.

I think kids these days are thoughtful, empathetic, polite and caring.

Kids are also kids!

But I’m pretty sure kids were kids when I was a kid, when you were a kid, when our parents were kids and then their parents were kids.

Actually, kids have probably always been kids.

The stories my partner, father and grandfather have told about risk-taking, boisterous behaviour makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up and hope that kind of behaviour isn’t somehow genetic. But they were all disciplined with harsh physical punishment – things I think most people these days would call abuse. It didn’t stop their behaviour – they just got better at not getting caught.

Because teenagers break rules, they push boundaries, they have hormonal surges, engage in underaged drinking and they even have sex.

(Teenagers in my day definitely had sex…. I know… I was there… )

And children aren’t perfect either. They misbehave! They make bad choices! They forget their manners! They do exactly what you ask them not to do immediately after you ask them not to do it!!!

While this is incredibly frustrating to us adults, I still don’t think kids these days are so much worse than kids of any other time.

Although I think people seem to expect so much more of kids these days.

My son had more homework last year in prep than I had in year 10. There seems to be so much more pressure on children to grow up quickly and overwhelm them with school work, while not allowing children to have the freedom, and responsibility that comes with that, that we had as kids.

When I was even younger than my son is now I was allowed to play with the neighbour’s kids in the street and just come home when the lights came on. My parents wouldn’t know where we were from breakfast time to dinner some days – but we always found our way home in time; hungry,tired and happy. (Occasionally with bumps, scrapes and broken bones, but generally happy for the experience.)

There is NO WAY I could let my own children do that. Not for MANY MANY years. Because I KNOW what we got up to in those unsupervised hours and some of it was pretty darn dangerous. We were LUCKY we got away with only minor injuries.

But this also means that kids these days are given less opportunities to burn off energy – I’m not going to say that having a puppy is the exact same thing and raising children but if you don’t take them for enough walks they will start to pull the washing off the line and chew up the furniture… just sayin…

And not only that – we expect more of kids than we do of adults.

How often are adults expected to share their most treasured possessions with other adults when they don’t want to? If someone said to me “Okay Rachel, you’ve played with your phone enough today, it’s time to let someone else have a turn with it.” I’d have some  unpleasant words to say to them!

Yet, when someone does exactly that to a child and the child says some unpleasant words, they are accused of being naughty, bratty, rude or selfish.

Or if I asked my partner to grab something for me without saying please and he responded with “Rachel, what do you say?” in a patronising or curt tone, I’d say “Fine, I’ll get it myself.” (Yet, I catch myself doing this to my own children!)

Also, kids get in trouble for not doing their chores or forgetting their homework, but here I am ignoring the ever-growing pile of dishes in my sink. I WILL do them, but I WILL procrastinate for at least a couple more hours. Thankfully there are no adults around who will yell at me.

And I have bad days, I get moody, I get it wrong, I lose my temper and shout. But whenever I do lose my shizz at my kids it’s a reminder that if I can’t always keep myself together, and I’m an adult, why would I expect them to be able to do it as children? (Time outs is good for this – not for them, for me. I send myself to my room to think about what I’ve done.)

kids these days 2


So, I don’t think the problem is “kids these days”; it’s adults and their unrealistic expectations of children. Not just “adults these days” – but it seems like it’s always been that way (or at least for the last 6,000 years).

But it’s a good thing children are pretty forgiving, so us adults can just try to be a little more understanding in the future.

 What do you think- are kids these days getting worse or is this the way it’s always been? 

Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner. Rachel is obsessed prams, car seats, carriers and all things baby. She has worked in the baby industry for several years, for both suppliers and also in a retail setting and has developed a passion for connecting parents with the right products to make their lives easier. When Rachel isn't playing with prams she's enjoys crocheting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.

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