Friday, December 12, 2008

The Worst Generation

What the hell is it that's wrong with many young parents today.

Fathers shooting their kids in the head. More than six percent of all children in West Virginia (and more than that nationally) living in grandparent-headed homes, a phenomenon that saw a thirty percent increase between 1990 and 2000. Children being treated as accessories that can just be abandoned, or even thrown away.

I'm a pessimist, and always have been . I tend to expect the worst out of people. Many, many times I'm wrong. But I don't think I'm wrong regarding my belief that there's something unusually selfish about many parents these days. A selfishness that ultimately causes the devaluing and dehumanizing of their own children.

Am I wrong? Please, someone tell me I'm wrong.


MountainLaurel said...

You are wrong. There.

But seriously, these stories make and dominate the news because they are news. They're deviants from the normal. My theory is that with tis 24X7 news paradigm that we find ourselves in, we hear about these stories a lot more than when we were growing up.

And let's think about the stories we DON'T hear:

"Mother kisses skinned knee and makes it better."

"Father tells daughter that she's a terrific girl and her first 'love' is a dodohead for breaking up."

"Sister stands up for retarded brother in schoolyard."

Do these stories ever make the news? No, and I hope to God they never do. Because then they will be the exception, rather than the rule.

The Film Geek said...

I hope you're right. While I agree the 24 hour news cycle and its world-wide range plays a role in this, I can't get past the second stat, in particular. We have millions of kids being wards of their grandparents in America, hundreds of thougsands of them in WV alone. And many of those, I suspect, are there because of things like drugs and other symptoms of selfishness.

primalscreamx said...

Things are better. Many of the stats you're looking at didn't exist in a way that can be reasonably compared. The data just doesn't exist or it's very incomplete. Think of this. How many orphanages are there now? How many kids get locked up in asylums compared to fifty years ago? How many 10 year olds have to work in factories or crawl through the mines? How often is it a child is on his own by the time he's 12 or 13?

Years ago, it wasn't uncommon for kids to leave the home as children. Those stories by Dickens and Hugo and others about children living in the streets? Yeah, it happened.

My grandfather started working when he was 10. He was on his own by the time he was 11. He never had more than a 5th grade education. My grandmother was pregnant by the time she finished the 8th grade and married for the second time by 20.

More kids finish school and are considered children longer than they were for centuries. Childhood is currently a term in flux, due to the rapid changes in our society. People take longer to grow up, though they become adults rapidly. We're in the process of adapting.

Still, parents are like they always are. You have great ones and you have people so loathsome you wish you could hit them with a claw hammer, just for the things they say to their kids in a parking lot.

Don't believe the hype. If anything, the fact that we're strong enough to accept the children of our children into our homes is a positive thing. It speaks of a selflessness for the sake of the child.

It ain't all bad.

MountainLaurel said...

Well, yes, there is a huge number of kids in that situation. But proportionately, it's only 6%. Primalscreamx is right. Historicallly, things have been worse. Look through old family histories if you get the chance and see how many kids were raised by grandparents, aunts and uncles, or even just adopted informally.

In the past, things like that (including stats) never made the news and folks didn't collect them. The fact that we're now paying attention says a good bit to me.

The Film Geek said...

Bill and MountainLaurel: I admit to being overwhelmed with the shooting of the three year old by his father. (First link.) And it seems to have affected my ability to think rationally about these things. But Jesus, ...That tragedy, added to a similar one from a couple weeks ago in this area, added to a similar one in my Nicholas County hometown a few weeks ago, added get the point.

It's overwhelming. And it's not the news that's overwhelming, it's the selfishness. The complete and utter selfishness that I see many adults have.

I'm over-reacting, sure. But I'm sick of it. You're right, of course. Selfishness isn't new. But it just feels so damn pervasive.

primalscreamx said...

Try this.,2933,419761,00.html

The Film Geek said...

Thank you. You're right.

Bionicbigfoot said...

Your right geek. I had my first daughter because I thought she would look good with a pair of slacks I had. I guess the jokes on me. Slacks 50 dollars, college tuition.. I dont even want to talk about it.

The Film Geek said...

The three year old that got shot in the head won't be going to college.

JDB said...

Do we know if this father actually meant to shoot his kid, or was it another accident like the putz who was playing a game with his toddler a couple of weeks back?

Spike Nesmith said...

Dude - you've clearly never watched "American Idol".

There's not enough kids getting shot in the head these days.

Suzy said...

Oh snap, Spike. I'd almost agree with you there. But I hope you are wrong, Filmy! Hubby and I waited so long to have our little guy. Sometimes I cry when he cries. I take pictures of the million different faces he makes. I coo at him and make dorky faces. I guess that puts me into a different column - the Sappy Cheese Generation.

Dr. Jackie said...

Hey Filmy, this was exactly what I called you about that day but couldn't articulate what I wanted to get across. So here goes again:

Ahem, I'm seeing lots more households consisting of grandparents raising their grandkids. Okay, the article talked about that.

Next point, which isn't mentioned in the article, is that over half of the families I see are white grandparents raising a mixed-race kid. Is that relevant? I don't know, but it's a fact.

The Film Geek said...

JDB: From a legal standpoint, it may matter. But both are selfish, thoughtless ways to interact with your kid.

Suzy: No way you area selfish mother! Congratulations! Your son is beautiful, you sappy Mom! :)

Jackie: From a psychological standpoint, that observation may well mean something in this state.

RedZeppelin said...

I agree with Moutain Laurel in that these stories are the extreme exceptions rather than the norm, which is why they are reported so heavily.

If anything I think today's parents are too coddling of their children. Helicopter parents (and the laws they encourage) are creating a nation of spoiled wimps who can't deal with failure (because no one is allowed to win) or disappointment.