Monday, April 30, 2012

Kids these days are so ____.

Have I mentioned before that my husband is amazing? He and Peter were making dinner tonight, measuring and stirring and learning about what is hot and sharp. My husband was carefully explaining how to do each step, narrating his own actions, guiding Peter, or allowing him to go solo as was appropriate. I commented that we are homeschooling already.

One of the things that makes my husband such a great teacher is that he assumes kids are not dumb. He described cooking to Peter in similar words that he would use with an adult. Did he explain more than Peter could understand or remember? Probably. But Peter's total engagement in the process indicated this wasn't at all off-putting. So in addition to cooking, he was expanding his vocabulary. And although he likely won't remember most of the explanation next time, he will remember some, and then a little more, and in a few years will be able to do many things independently.

He not only listens, he takes copious notes...

In my experience, many adults are unwilling to do this. They either constantly underestimate children or are uncomfortable talking to children as if they can understand the adult world. This would be bad enough, but many of these adults actively undermine others who are trying to teach.

Our priest gave a compelling homily on the importance of respect, highlighting specific situations that might arise at different times in our lives. "Young people," he said, "when you wear headphones to the table or text while out with a friend, it is rude. You send the message that your present company is less interesting and less important than whatever else you have available." And the congregation laughed. "Oh Father, they're teenagers! They don't know any better." Well, maybe they don't. But they were just told better, only to have the message undermined by adults who assume kids can't be expected to be courteous.

My husband was talking with another dad and his eight-year-old daughter. As the men began to compare the accomplishments of past presidents, the girl got bored and tried to redirect the conversation. My husband asked her if it was just presidents she found boring or politics in general. Before she could answer, her dad laughed and said she wouldn't care about any of it. Essentially, he called his daughter ignorant and ridiculed my husband for attempting to converse with a child.

I see this type of situation regularly. If today's children are as self-centered, ignorant, irresponsible, inattentive, and lazy as they are often portrayed to be, perhaps it is not through their own lack of character. Maybe they've just been told too many times to sit down and be quiet.


  1. Kids really do live up to low or high as they may be.

    Now to remember this and expect the best of my children...

    1. You and me both. Well, child in my case, not children. Yet. :-) (No, that's not an announcement, just a hope.)