It’s funny how some things work out. Last posting (which seems like a lifetime ago, again apologies), I chronicled how in fact, Americans were indeed lazy when, in preparing for this follow up I came across a piece in a recent edition of USAToday. The report highlighted research revealing how the internet and related technology has enabled cheating in public schools to go high-tech (“eCheating: Students Find High Tech Ways To Deceive Teachers"). It also validated my previous observation about how lazy Americans (and our children) are.
But education is not the only area where our sloth reigns.
Perhaps no segment in American society illustrates our laziness more than our approach to relationships. Some of us change partners with greater frequency than changing our underwear, with no time in-between romps for assessing ourselves (or what went wrong in the previous relationships). Leading the way among industrialized nations, America’s divorce rate is second to none. This reality is based on, in part our laziness toward the effort it takes to make relationships last beyond our selfish realization that our partners don’t measure up to our internalized expectations. Divorce has simply become too convenient, and is the only aspect of this insanity that we are (ironically) willing to put work into.
In a time of exaggerated self-importance—exemplified, if not spurred, by the proliferation of personal web pages, personality-driven “reality” television shows (making everyday people famous-for-nothing), and You Tube—the selfishness of the me mindset has infected relationships to the point where anyone who doesn’t cater to our selfish desires and/or expectations are summarily dismissed. The institution of marriage notwithstanding, the notion of “compromise” is usually not given even a brief consideration. Men have grown too selfish and uncaring in the consideration (or lack thereof) and respect for their female significant others. While women have grown too demanding in expecting men to cater to a Hollywood-ized sense of romance, as well as selfishness in making their feelings the primary issue in relationships.
Compromise has become one of those moralistically-attractive words used by individuals who soap box about how about how relationships can be made better, but are often just as guilty in being a part of the same mindset of lazy selfishness. When we’re fed-up with our partners, many of us are too lazy to inform them that they are about to be trashed (totally unaware, in many cases, that they themselves are perpetuating a cycle whereby the dumper is doing what was done to themselves sometime prior). The feelings of another have become disposable casualties of our laziness to see or empathize beyond ourselves, work through issues, consider our partners, and/or work through our own individual issues before jumping seeking out (another) romantic relationship (why put forth such effort when it’s so much easier to blame another for either not living up to our idealized expectations or catering to our impatience). And such sloth has created a cottage industry of “relationship experts” whose private offices, magazine and newspaper columns, and television segments have multitudes of people lining up to seek their advice—instead of looking inward and applying a little common sense effort to our relationships. As with many things, we look to others to do the work we ourselves should be doing.
How we raise our children is a subject I find myself writing about often…maybe because I have spent much of the last 13 years working with and observing them. Simply put, many Americans have put the onus for instilling desirable values in their children on elements of society rather than taking personal responsibility, as common sense dictates.
During times past, when most of society shared the same level of constructive and positive family values, America as a society—institutions outside of the nuclear family comprised of schools, neighbors, churches, and extended family—could be trusted to supplement in-home child-rearing. In school, we were taught about the negative effects of alcohol and drugs use, and corporal punishment was an occasionally-used option to keep unruly and disruptive children in-line with the rest of the class. Teachers were every bit as respected by children as their parents.
Truant (or assigned police) officers could be trusted to keep a vigilant eye out for children who suddenly forgot the direction to their school.
Neighbor s didn’t mind—indeed felt obligated to—“being nosey,” and informing responsible parents about the illicit shenanigans of their children.
Respect for adult authority was a foregone conclusion.
And in the home, parents lived up to their moral (and legal) obligations to directly parent their children. Education was reinforced (and cherished) more than sports or extra-curricular activities; school attendance was closely-monitored.
Teenage pregnancies were rare occurrences which brought a level of shame to a decent family.
Responsible parents not only knew their children’ whereabouts, but the names of their friends (or at least a family member) they ran around with. They were able to look their children in the eyes and tell whether or not they were lying, so activities like drugs and cigarette smoking were non-starters.
At the time, parents didn’t coddle children in an effort to protect them from themselves. Bruises, scrapes, black eyes, even more serious potential injuries were a part of growing up. The word "no" had meaning, and children were not allowed to question "why."
Children were raised to be tough, to accept hardships as a part of reality...without whining about every little hangnail or papercut.
Children had structure, chores, an understanding for the need to work around the neighborhood in an effort to earn extra money, and a sense of duty to help keep them out of trouble.
And parents actually did the caring and raising…not video games, not cable-music television, and definitely not other individuals.
But with lazy parenting now the norm, children today have a sense of entitlement rather than duty. This is partly because lazy parents often indulge their children in order to receive momentary compliance, or as a guilt-filler for perceived deficiencies. Parents are unable to discipline their children in the traditional manner of occasional whippings because people lack the will to collectively challenge the authority of (arguably) well-intentioned but ineffective elected officials and New Age clinicians who have revised this parental obligation.
The lack of real options in sanctioning unruly children has today’s children thinking they are the equal of adults. Indeed, many children take the vacuum created by making in-school and in-home corporal punishment illegal to assert blatant disrespect and disobedience toward their parents, even verbally threatening to call the authorities if a parents dares to exercise their right to punish their defiance. It’s no wonder why so many teens become parents, equating puberty with adulthood.
Low-paid convenient store employees are expected to expand their responsibilities and take on the role of parents to police young people looking to illegally buy cigarettes.
Truancy and dropout rates have exploded, almost reflecting a level of apathy or fatalism among adults today who are not up to the task of ensuring children are attending school
Teachers are disrespected scapegoats for irresponsible and uneducated parents who expect classroom instructors to their children without parental support or discipline from home.
Doing drugs is no longer an activity to be shied away from, but—in extreme cases that I’ve seen—an activity to be shared between young people and “cool” adults…including irresponsible parents, too lazy to bother fighting against their children’ need to fit-in.
In truth, our youth are the way they are not so much as a result of the choices they make, but because of the influences of irresponsible adults, lazy parenting, and a society that has forgotten that things were better when everyone worked to make sure that young people did what right, and not concerned themselves with children liked.
Again, our quality of collective laziness crosses beyond the lines of the family and relationships.
…To Be Concluded.