Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

What’s the Matter with Kids Today?

kids4.jpg

I was in Starbucks with a female friend.  We were both reading the LA Times.  I saw this article that for some reason amused me.  I showed it to my friend.

A show promoter labeled a "Grinch" by prosecutors for selling tickets to thousands of children for a nonexistent Christmas pageant was sentenced Wednesday to more than seven years in prison.

The judge told David Lee Ellisor that his actions were "reprehensible."

Ellisor, 52, was convicted in February of eight counts of mail fraud for a December 2003 scam in which he sold $10 tickets to more than 2,700 Miami-Dade County schoolchildren and parents for a "Christmas Around the World" show. He claimed that it would be attended by ambassadors from 28 countries and feature live reindeer.

Hundreds of children were left crying outside the Coconut Grove Convention Center when they learned that there would be no show.

Trial evidence indicated that Ellisor emptied the show’s bank account to buy a luxury car the day the show was to begin.

My friend tossed the paper aside.

"That’s terrible."

"Terrible?"  I asked.  "They shouldn’t even convict this guy.  I think they should give him a medal for educating our youth about what real life is going to be like."

She did not find this amusing.  Oh, one detail I forgot.  She was there with her baby.  This woman used to be very funny.  Now she is always very serious.  She wakes up every morning and puts on a CD of Mozart, so the baby will grow up cultured.

I don’t know if it was this experience, or hearing about all you teachers out there getting a new year of school underway, but I’ve been thinking about kids today.   And I’m not sure you’re going to like what I say.

As someone who doesn’t have any children, I think it gives me a unique opportunity to tell the truth:  they are incredibly cute, but also pretty obnoxious — particularly from ages 3-12.  I mean, kids are great, but when did children become the center of our existence?   Do we really need to play Mozart to our babies from birth?  Do parents really need to devote all their energy for the next 18 years — just to make sure the child gets into Harvard?

In the past, it used to be that kids were seen but not heard.  I was an only child.  As a stereotypical only child, I was independent and spoiled — but I always knew my place in the hierarchy of the household.  My parents ruled.  Now, kids rule the household.  They tell their parents what to buy.  There are even special marketing companies pushing kids to get their parents to buy them products like Fruit Loops and video games. 

I think our culture took a nosedive during the "We are the World" era.  All those stupid songs like "The children are our future."   Whose future?  Theirs… not mine.  Let’s clean up the environment so I don’t have to breathe the fumes, not for some nebulous future of the "children." Do I always have to bend over backwards for "the children?"  The "children" have ruined TV.  Most TV sucks because — god forbid — some child might see something like Janet Jackson’s boob.    Maybe I want to see Janet Jackson’s boob.  Now, I’m never going to get a chance again because it might ruin the innocence of some bratty American child. 

We somehow visualize children as pure and innocent.  This doesn’t make any sense.  We were all once children ourselves. Did we block out everything from our past?  Don’t we remember ourselves as children?   Pure and innocent?  C’mon!

We were snot-dripping assholes! 

Why are our children going to be any different?

I was about a good a kid as could be.  I never cried or yelled in public.  Why do kids scream so much in movie theaters and malls?  Where are the parents?

A few months ago, writer Ayelet Waldman, wife of Pulitzer Prize winning writer Michael Chabon, wrote a controversial article in The New York Times where she said, "I love my husband more than I love my children." 

I do love [my daughter]. But I’m not in love with her. Nor with her two brothers or sister. Yes, I have four children. Four children with whom I spend a good part of every day: bathing them, combing their hair, sitting with them while they do their homework, holding them while they weep their tragic tears. But I’m not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband.

It is his face that inspires in me paroxysms of infatuated devotion. If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.

What’s wrong with that?  Of course she loves her four children.  She just doesn’t make them the center of her universe.  Because of what she said, she got tons of hate mail.  When she appeared on Oprah, many in the audience attacked her, accusing her of being a lousy mother and person.

Why shouldn’t the wife or husband come before the children?  Isn’t that the person you married?

This "children first" attitude is not entirely new.  When the boat is sinking, it’s always "women and children" first.  But I understand that’s more of a male chivalry thing.  Today, we go too far in idolizing the young.  What really annoys me is when a hundred people die in a fire — including one child — and all the news media wants to talk about is this one child who died, as if his young age makes him more special to the world.  How do we know that if this kid survived the fire, he wasn’t going to grow up to be a dunce?  How do we know that the middle-aged guy who also died wasn’t about to discover the cure for cancer?

Do all you mothers and teachers hate me yet? 

72 Comments

  1. Not a parent, not a teacher, but hear hear anyway. My niece just left, and although my heart bursts with love for her, she’s not going to rule my world, and I hate that her mother lets her(self) do that.

  2. A brave post but accurate.
    Some households even let the damn incontinent dog run things.
    You have to set limits and establish a pecking order in the pack, people!!
    1) Adults Who Pay The Bills And/Or Clean The Poop
    2) Nannies
    3) Kids
    4) Pets
    5) In-laws
    6) The Lawn
    Trust me on this.

  3. Spiritually speaking – you’re right on the money! The parents come first – kids second. Laitman is always talking about how the only thing you can do with kids is give them an example – nothing else will work. And today’s kids are WAY more out of control that we were because they are the most advanced souls to ever inhabit the earth and they will continue to be extremely restless and unbearable until their souls’ find what they’re yearning for. And again – if you think kids over there are bad you haven’t seen Israeli kids!! Quote – “why do I have to listen to you – because you’re my mother?”

  4. Come to Europe. You get to see boobies on TV all the time. Sometimes even before 9PM.

  5. Funny that you should write about this. I was just complaining to a friend about the lack discipline and the unhealthy attitude of super mom’s on kids. It seems with essay’s like Aylet’s the tide is turning a bit. Plus i do think most people idolize childhood where if truth be told most kids aren’t innocent angels, but (many times) can be manipulative devils. So no hate Neil, just love.

  6. As a teacher in a rather exclusive all-girls’ school, I hear you. Some of the girls I teach are incredibly smart and talented, and at times the problem is that they know so – and so do their parents. It’s pretty fun telling them that their daughter isn’t perfect – and watching their horror.

    Still, it’s scary sometimes how much pressure kids of today are under – I don’t remember having my entire week crammed full of lessons and activities and having to formally learn so much – I mostly remember running around in my knickers eating ice cream.

    Maybe that’s why I’m a teacher now and not a multi-millionaire…

  7. Sadly, Neil, you’re late to the party (read down a bit).

  8. Hmm. Interesting post. I don’t have children either, but it does seem like these days that they rule. I’m sure not in all homes, especially homes where the parents are doing it right, but I see alot of kids who seem to be in control.

  9. Children are indeed our most precious gift. This does not mean that they do not infuriate us, make us upset, or bring happiness to our lives. But on balance, I could not live without them.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  10. Funny that Cammy just wrote about kids in public places on her blog and I commented on it last night and basically it’s a “who’s in charge?” question. I say that Ayelet Waldman has it right and the women in Oprah’s audience are there because they’re unhappy in their marriages and are hoping Dr. Phil is going to show up. But that’s a whole nuther blog…

  11. Also, if I’m allowed to supply a cliche (which at times tends to be very accurate), someone finished a common notion of “children are the flowers of life” with “…flowers that grow on our graves”.

  12. each generation of children seem to want more handed to them, instead of actually going out and taking it/earning it for themselves (now where’s that lawn boy, I wanted my grass cut by noon today)

  13. I do agree that the ‘kids first’ movement has gotten out of control, but just like many other reactionary things in life, the pendulum tends to swing from one extreme (“seen not heard”) to the other (“kids first”) in order to reach some stable middle. I think the kids first thing, although currently backfiring, was necessary so that those mothers who chose to stay with abusive husbands at the expense of their kids would do the right thing for the safety and protection of the children. Speaking out on tempering this movement is very brave and important! I agree it’s time for a change.

  14. At the risk of losing my teaching job, I’m with you. I’ve seen firsthand how the children of overindulgent parents behave, and it’s not impressive. It’s a very different generation growing up today – but that is true of every generation. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    However, I’m not with you on your comment about the man deserving a medal for teaching the children about the ways of the world – sorry Neil – that was just obnoxious. Love ya – but still obnoxious. I live down here in Florida – and I remember this well. These were very poor inner city kids that this man ripped off to buy his new car – they already know the what real life is like – in a way that you (and I) have never had the misfortune to know.

    I am now rolling up a newspaper to give you a sharp rap on the nose. Bad Neil! Bad!

  15. Rent-A-Kid

    For those that can’t stand the spoiled children of today, I suggest we begin a Rent A Kid program. Put them out for rent. The kids will find a new level of discipline and may change. The parent may find such relief that they will leave the kid out for good. Kids that change enough may get rented again. My experience is that one short term rental would suffice for a lifetime.

  16. Neil, as a parent of 2, I’m in total agreement with you. My children will grow up and leave one day, I BETTER like being with my husband. Has anyone else noticed the increase of small children in nice restaurants, and R-rated movies allowed to run screaming and jumping around the tables and through the seats of a theatre? When our children were young, we always went to “family” friendly restaurants, and hired babysitters when it was time to go to nice restaurants and r-rated movies…My husband and I recently walked in and right out of 3 nice restaurants in one evening because there were little kids literally screaming…and mom and dad just sitting there doing nothing.
    Sorry for the rant…but this is defintitely one of my hot buttons.

  17. I witnessed a mother on friday trying to get her child to behave as follows:

    If you don’t scream, you’ll get a reward.
    If you’re a good boy, you’ll get a gift.
    If you behave, we’ll go to McDonald’s…

    FYI, The kid did not behave,
    but he did get McDonald’s.

  18. By the way, if you are a reader with children, I certainly wasn’t referring to your kids when I said “bratty American children.” Although, what’s that I hear in the background while you’re blogging — “Mommy, Mommy, I want my Juicy Juice NOW!”

  19. I’m not a parent either, and despite always wanting kids, seeing the havoc they have wrecked on my friends’ lives is giving me pause. However, I think a wife and a husband should be in love with each other and not with their children. After all, in 18 years, the parents still have to live with each other, while the children merrily build their own lives.

    I often look at the kids and parents today and see parents setting NO boundaries and kids ruling the household. First of all, pretty much anyone who has studied children will tell you that kids want boundaries. Second, all this does is create these self-absorbed creatures with an incredibly inflated sense of entitlement. Take care of and love your children, but give them rules and structure. And in the end, Mom and Dad are in charge and what they say goes. My parents were great about letting me vocalize my opinions and feelings, but I knew that ultimately I obeyed what they said.

  20. Hmmm, I’m with Brooke. That guy in Florida committed fraud on a grand scale and should be punished. It doesn’t really matter who he screwed, just that he did it.

    My take on the whole Ayelet mess was that she OVERSHARED, and it made some folks uncomfortable. I mean I didn’t really want to hear about her and MC ripping each other’s clothes off while the kids cried in the background either.

    And I hate to say it, Neil, but until you have kids of your own, you have no idea…still love ya, you smart Jew.

  21. Edgy, before you say you still love me, I should admit to you that on Halloween, I open the door dressed as the Grim Reaper and steal candy from the kids rather than give those little brats anything. I also force them to give me some pocket change for this new organization named “NeilICEF.” Why should they get anything for free? I’m the one who pays the taxes for their schooling!

  22. the problem is that people just have kids because they want them…they don’t think about how they will affect the world…
    my favorite quote from the movie Parenthood says it all…

    “You know what? You need a license to drive a car, or to buy a car, hell…you need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any asshole be a father”

  23. I was brought up with the belief that I am a reflection of my parents. What I do or say in public is a direct statement to the world of who they are and what they’ve taught me.

    As a part-time only child (I have a younger half sister) I was also spoiled, but I knew my place. My mom often told me that children were meant to be seen and not heard. The most terrifying words were not, “Do you want me to slap you???” but, “I am so disappointed in you.”

    Nothing wounded me more than knowing I’d let my dad down – the one person who consistently told me I could do or be anything I wanted and truly believed I could make it happen. He let me know I had the power to build of my life what I wished, and that, while they’d be behind me every step of the way, neither he nor my mother were going to do it for me.

    I see parents bending over backwards to give everything to their kids. I see them shelling out the cash or charging everything to credit cards and getting themselves in way over their heads to buy their kids stuff that won’t fit in a month or that the kid won’t want in a year and the kids aren’t even grateful, the just expect that the parent will get it because, well, the parent has always come through before.

    I’ve taught kids that have the “what’s in it for me” attitude, kids who expect you to give them an A because they showed up and pretended to care, and they don’t put in any effort because no one has ever asked them to. It is incredibly infuriating.

    I think parenting classes should be mandatory, I truly do. I also think there should be an age requirement; you have be 16 to drive, 18 to vote, and 21 to drink, why not put a cap on the age at which you can begin to pro-create? 25, maybe? 28? Some people aren’t ready until well into their 30s. I know I’m not ready!

    I’m sure I’ll be the one getting hate mail next. C’est la vie!

  24. I love this post. This post is brilliant. As a third grade teacher may I say that I totally totally totally agree with you.

    I love working with kids and making an impact on the future, so to speak, but I do not want kids of my own for many reasons including the fact that I love being free to come and go as I please.

    Having been brought up fairly well, it pains me to see children who are given few boundaries and little guidance. In the trenches of public education, I am daily working with kids who are emotionally neglected. And I wonder what their parents were thinking when they conceived. Where is the parenting today, indeed?

    Bravo, Neil.

  25. You are totally right on. The WORST thing is when politicians talk about children. Why am I the best candidate? Because I love children.

    I cannot vote for politicians who claim to love children.

    I have a post about similar topic today on my blog… about a mom who objected to my use of the word “obey” — said it sounded too Biblical and judgemental…

    Yikes.
    Nancy

  26. I am with Edgy on this one. As obnoxious as it sounds if you don’t have kids than you really do not understand.

    For me there is nothing better than being a father. It is the greatest accomplishment of my life.

    I have no problem doing things to improve the world, even if I am not going to be the one that benefits from them.

    I understand why people might say that, but it is short sighted and there are people who came before us who helped pave the way so that we could live a better life.

    Had they taken that position you don’t know what could be.

    Furthermore, there are times where you may think that a parent is not disciplining their child but actually are.

    All it takes in my house is a look from me and the kids know that they are on thin ice. But they are kids and sometimes they’ll push the limit just because.

    But I do agree that there are boundaries that are needed and that there are places that children should not be invited to.

  27. Hey, why do you think only mothers and teachers will hate you? What’s with the sexist assumption that we fathers won’t despise you just as much for your child-loathing stance? Actually, I don’t hate you at all, I agree wholeheartedly with almost everything you said. I also agree with many of your commenters (are you surprised to get such a positve reaction to this post?) especially ones likes Leesepea. In many cases with the obnoxious brats of today it’s really the parents’ fault for raising such monsters. It’s amazing the havoc that a lack of boundaries can create!

    On the other hand, some of the behavior being described is normal developmental stuff that children just have to go through and they’re not being “bad” for doing it (which doesn’t mean that anyone particularly enjoys being around them during this phase). So I do find the “children should be seen and not heard” attitude appalling and very retro, except if it means they need to learn to shut the fuck up in and not run around like wild animals in certain social situations. But even there, depending on the age of the kid, it’s the parents fault for putting them in that situation in the first place. It’s ridiculous to expect a two year old to be silent for a long stretch at a wedding and they’re not being “bad” if they don’t get it. So if it’s not that kind of wedding the parents need to leave the kids at home! Nor are crying babies or children being “bad” and quiet children being “good”—I was a very quiet child because I was so fucking neurotic and scared all the time time I was afraid to make a peep. Is that good?

    I’m fascinated by Ayelet Waldman’s brave, provocative statement but I hope she wasn’t implying then that her HUSBAND is the center of her universe. Ick. Isn’t that just as bad as making her kids the center?

    And I have to agree with the smug admonitions that your stance on all this will shift if you ever choose to have a kid of your own. Not that you should hand your whole life over to them, but it sure becomes a HUGE focus. And frankly, if the Titanic were sinking I wouldn’t think twice before getting my daughter on that lifeboat before myself. Not that I wouldn’t want to live too—maybe I’ll just hurl one of those horrible parents without boundaries out of the boat so I can have a place.

  28. I completely agree, Neil…I spent many years babysitting little heathens, and for the most part kids just have no boundaries. And as far as taking them out to nice restaurants…well, I don’t think kids should be allowed to leave the house (except for maybe the park, school, and McDonald’s) until they’re at least 14.
    Oh, and no you don’t know me…I stumbled onto your site and have become a little addicted (by-product of extremely boring days at work).

  29. Great post, Neil. No hate here; you are right on. There is some weird parenting thing going on with a lot of kids I see and read about and I don’t like it one bit.

    And I’m with Waldman; important to draw lines on the relationships.

  30. I had this t-shirt when I was growing up that said, “Kids are people too.” I liked that. My parents always had me remember that I was a person just like the rest of the people on the planet. A lot of people had great parents so I don’t get why a lot of people are such crap parents.

  31. a friend who used to work in day care told me that when a job applicant said they wanted to work there because” i love children”, they didn’t even get an interview. because people who say they “love children” don’t know what they’re talking about, and when they see firsthand how evil kids can be they might not be able to handle it, and would probably quit.

  32. “Maybe I want to see Janet Jackson’s boob.”

    This post made me want to have kids with you.

    Wait, no. That can’t be right . . .

  33. Kids can be bratty. What are you gonna do? Personally, I blame the parents. Some kids are pure joy to be around; others, pure hell. The rich, entitled kids who’ve been spoiled bother me the most. (same goes for their rich, entitled, spoiled parents, BTW!) It’s part of the reason why I chose to work in an inner city school district. Those kids are gonna get whatever they need regardless. But the kids in the city already have the odds against them.

    Also, I saw the Oprah episode you mentioned. Yeah for her. I think too many ppl get caught up in parenthood and lose themselves in the process.

  34. Nothing should be the center of your existence, not kids, not spouses, not anything. However, my kids come as close as anything to that title. That is not to say we let them get away with everything, and I agree that the loss of clear and separate adult vs. kid activities is a shame. The reason that TV has become watered down, for instance, is that it takes work for parents to actively monitor and forbid their kids from participating in certain activities. It’s the Disneyfication of culture, everything is for everybody. It’s bullshit.

    We took out oldest to Spain a few years back, and it was a revelation. Kids over there are INCREDIBLY well-behaved, not because they are hidden, but because they are included in public life and so are expected to act a certain way. We saw entire families out at VERY nice restaurants at 11 pm. It’s normal, so they know how to behave. It’s not one extreme or the other, it’s structured inclusion that makes the difference.

    Also, it’s sad but true, until you have kids, you have NO idea. No other experience in life comes close to having the impact of parenthood.

  35. The more I think about that Ayelet Waldman comment, the more I wonder if the “more” was added by a reporter to put a more controversial spin on what she said. I totally get the distinction between loving your children and being IN love with your spouse, but why on earth would anyone feel the need to say they loved their spouse MORE than their children? But alas, it wasn’t added by the press, she did say it. So then I’m left with, why the hell is she comparing those two different kinds of love in the first place? I know it’s a cliche to say this, but they’re just different. In fact, why do we ever have to say we love ANYONE “more” than anyone else? Okay, I guess her statements do hit a nerve (which I’m sure was intended). I hope I’m not turning into one of those scary people who would be sitting in Oprah’s audience. I just know I would never say I loved anyone “more” than my child, that would never be true.

  36. i’m with nicole on this one…one extreme to the next.

    but then again, i’m just a teacher dealing with these bratty kids probably more often than their parents deal with them! i don’t have any of my own. what the hell do i know!?

    you are FUNNY, neil. i love it. that’s “it”…not you.

  37. Have you notice all those car commercials that are apparently aimed at “the children”? What the hell is that about?

  38. Wow, this post got a lot of comments. I agree 100% with you Neil. Kids are so much different now that when I was growing up. Parents have completely dropped the ball. It’s a shame. I also can’t believe that guy got sentenced to 7 years. That’s ridiculous. He should have done a little time for stealing all that money, but even child molesters don’t do seven years. Our justice system bites.

  39. Neil, Neil, Neil…
    Sigh…
    I don’t know what to say.
    Considering that the name of my blog reflects my kid’s behavior, it’s pretty obvious where I stand.

    Parenting is hard work. Few people are qualified for it. It’s harder to do now that parents have less time to spend supervising and directing their kids, coupled with more and more external interference in child-rearing.

    But it can be done.

    I believe that our willingness to sacrifice for our kids is what separates us from the animals. And personally, although I have done a lot of things in my 39 years, learned medicine, recorded rock albums, written volumes of bad jokes, I don’t think there’s anything that I will do in this life that’s going to be more important than raising my kids to be successful, talented, and yes, well-behaved members of society.

    As a self-described only child with no children of your own, I don’t think you qualify as an expert on children or parenting. And if you think you’re not up to the task, maybe it’s better if you don’t reproduce.

    Oh, and as far as your original point that having kids drains you of your sense of humor, I haven’t found that to be the case. You absolutely NEED a good sense of humor to be a good parent.

  40. Ayelet Waldman is brilliant and has her priorities correct.

    So many parents put the children first, and TO AN EXTENT that is correct. However, people today seem obsessed with making their children the center of their universe to the point that they compromise their ability to be a good parent. They coddle and spoil and refuse to take an authoritative stance with their children and then they call it “good parenting” and judge the others who don’t do the same. It’s pathetic.

    Children raised without parents who have a strong sense of self (yes, who remember how to be selfish and do so when it is appropriate) grow up to be whining angry sociopaths.

    There is a HUGE difference between making life decisions with your childrens well being in mind and making your decisions based on what will make your children happy.

    I learned it the hard way early on, and thank God I learned it.

  41. You know it is easy to point fingers at the bad children/parent because they grab your attention. It is like watching the news, the murders/war/rape goes first and then comes the good stuff.

    The reality is that there are a ton of good parents and well behaved children that you encounter every day.

    I haven’t any problem with putting my children ahead of me. When I decided to become a father I chose to do so.

    Part of the problem we face is the narcissitic and selfish attitude that so many people have.

    Not pointing fingers here, but really being a parent is so incredible and such a good thing.

    You don’t know what love is until you have a child.

  42. My good friend Psychotoddler said, “As a self-described only child with no children of your own, I don’t think you qualify as an expert on children or parenting.”

    I don’t remember offering any advice at all, other than my disappointment in not seeing more boobs on network TV. But I don’t see why I couldn’t make a relevant comment on children and parents. After all, I have the perfect qualifications:

    1) Believe it or not, I was an actual child at one time.

    2) I have two lovely, if crazy-making parents with a unique brand of parenting.

  43. yeah, Neil, how dare you write about children not having one yourself?!

    and while we’re on the subject, how dare you, a white guy, write about your black friend, and what can you know about dating short men not being one yourself?! And the chutzpah you have to write about anorexic women!!! Have you ever been an anorexic actress?

    Don’t you see, you must stop writing at once!
    Shame on you!!!

  44. Jim is funny. I like him.

  45. Jack said, “You don’t know what love is until you have a child.”

    True, that. I also didn’t know what fear was until I had a child.

    Hmmm.

  46. OK, I’ll admit it. I’m not even Jewish. Just like writing about ’em!

  47. I never said I didn’t want more boobs on TV either.

  48. i’d like to add that i can fully understand that the parents here are only going to feel the need to defend themselves/their children. that’s natural…right? right.

    (but yes, i’m with Jim.)

  49. Kristine, I’m glad you’re not mad at me anymore (about that erotica post) 😉

  50. I used to feel the same way, then I had kids, now I cut them and their parents a hell of a lot more slack than before. I think the old “seen but not heard” mode has led to a lot of neurotic parents who will do anything to not repeat the mistakes of their fathers and mothers. You may not be in love with your kids like your spouse, but the two of you better be on the same page and not view your kids as a burden to be farmed out to others when convenient. But you should be killed if you take your screaming brats to the movies.

  51. Neil,

    It is clear you are trying to cultivate that bad boy image women love so much. 😉

    But it’s also obvious that no matter how hard you try, your adoring readers continue to adore you.

    I think you may have to stab a bunny to actually piss someone off.

  52. Absolutely right, Helena. I wasn’t getting anywhere being the “nice” guy. Wait until you read my upcoming post on my opinions of those “cute kittens” you always see on people’s blogs. I say — throw them out the window and see if they really have nine lives?

  53. I look forward to your post about kittens (since I despise cats).

    Well, I’m not a parent, but I’m a teacher so I feel qualified to comment. Kids are great and need to be protected and nurtured, but they sure as hell shouldn’t be raised as a parent’s “friend.” Why do so many parents nowadays seem to care more that their child likes him/her rather than whether or not that child is being brought up with values and morals?

    I taught high school freshman and SWORE I would never return to teaching (yes, I ate my words). What was most difficult was the lack of support from parents. Although I had one or two parents who would back me up when I called home to discuss a problem student, the majority of parents treated me with the “my child could never do wrong” attitude. Of course, it was always those kids who were the worst in class!

    I totally agree with whomever made the comment about the pendulum swinging to the other extreme. I think we’ve hit about as far to the extreme opposite of “seen not heard” as we can get. There was a purpose in making children a more prominent figure in our lives, but it has gotten way out of control.

    Of course, I say this as a woman with no kids. If I ever have kids I’ll probably end up being one of those disgusting parents without a backbone now that I’ve written this long comment!

  54. After reading your post again, and the responses of your readers, I have changed my mind. Kids suck. I hate all kids. Whoever invented kids was an idiot. Kids are annoying. Well, not my kids. They’re all little angels. But other kids are all bad. Neil, I’m sure if you had kids, they’d be loud and annoying, and I appreciate your consideration in not having any. You’re a good guy, and a Landsman to boot.

    Now, don’t get me started on kittens…

  55. Damn, Megan, another incompatibility. Woody, Marty, Stanley and Jodie have been my faithful companions for years.

  56. Damn it, Neil, you’re not Jewish? So my little ironic comment lost it’s sting?

    Fun, fun, Mr. Controversy. If anyone wants to read the column Ayelet wrote about her cute husband, it’s in the NYT archives, but I’m too lazy to look it up for you.

  57. Oh Jason, I’m a dog lover and a cat hater. You’re right, we could never be. Well, the fact that you’re married might make things difficult, too. 😉

    I guess this means my blog-heart belongs to Neil! LOL

  58. Cats are filthy animals and no I don’t need to defend my decision to be a parent. I made it and was very comfortable doing it.

    But it is not for everyone.

  59. I’m totally surprised about how touchy parents are about this subject… whatever the subject was originally. Parents, we love you! But since Jack and Psychotoddler are both kosher, maybe they just haven’t been lucky enough to experience a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. I suggest you both go to one this weekend and see if you come back with a different opinion on today’s children.

  60. what the hell? you are sooo popular. 61 comments? is that like a new record or something? keep up the entertaining read. =)

  61. Neil,

    I have been to a million parties at Chuck E. Cheese. For that matter conservatively speaking within the past 5 years I have been to around 38 parties.

    But I only have two kids and PT has 6 so I defer to his wisdom on this.

    In all sincerity I suspect that we can find many historical references that list how bad children are compared to the past.

    There is nothing new with this. Kohelet said it best when he said that there was nothing new under the sun.

  62. I don’t have time to read all your comments on this post now, but…

    As a parent, I both agree AND disagree with you.

    I see parents hovering over their kids, trying to prevent any disappointment and hurt from coming their way. Yes, I agree… too much. People do it with dogs, too. I know what you mean.

    However, there are times when kids should come first. When they’re sick, don’t drag them around because it’s convenient for you. Or neglect them.

    Like anything, it’s about moderation. Kids aren’t a hobby to devote yourself to… they are people. The goal of a parent should be to design your own obsolescence.

    Does that make sense? Sorry… I’m in a hurry.

  63. Yeah, yeah, yeah… ubermilf. Gotta take the kids to school, to soccer practice, then ballet class… as if blogging wasn’t as important.

  64. Neil the pot stirrer!

    Although I don’t have children of my own, I worked with kids for years. I have seen the over developed kid centric dynamic up close, and it sucks. It makes for bratty and unpleasant kids. I often saw parents spoil their children in an attempt to make up for not being around, always off at work. I’ve also seen unhappy parents have kids just because it’s the thing to do. Sad for the kids, they’re the monster brats showing up on television programs like Mtv’s “Sweet Sixteen.”

  65. The important thing here is that Ms. Waldman got on Oprah. Ka-ching.

  66. is simple. your kids are spoiled brats who take there lead from holiwood jerks which are nothing but a bunch of morons who live in la la land….

  67. Wow! Lots of comments here. I have 3 kids and 1 bonus kid. Its hard and wonderful. Not wonderland but at the same time I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

    I see the parents’ role as just that. Parents. Not friends, not buddies, not a wallet or the problem fixer. We are teachers, the guides, the boundry makers, the stable ones who guide them to be successful people with self esteem and tools to make it in the rest of their lives.

    It is hard and it is fun too. It is NOT a competion with others. That is my biggest complaint with some parents. Kids are not a reflection of the parent. They are as far as you can tell when there is no parenting happening but you parent for the kid – for no one else!!!

    It really sucks when parents have kids and then have no time to parent. The kids suffer and society does too.

    It’s a hard job and one I take seriously.

    I am in love with my husband and love all my kids at the same time.

    cinski

  68. I agree with your thoughts. After listening to Ayelet Waldman on Oprah, I have changed my priorities. I absolutely love my daughter, but her father is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. She will have to leave my home and start a family of her own one day.
    I would like to change one thing ZZAKK said in the pecking order list. Pets should be moved down the list to number 5, putting animals before people concerns me no matter how much we don’t get along with our in-laws.

  69. God Bless You for saying what REALLY NEEDS to be said….

  70. I couldnt agree more that we have become a sickeningly child-centered society…everything today is made to be about brats and its gotten out of control. I read about five people killed in a car crash the other day and all the emphasis was that three were kids…so what about the two adults? Are they chopped liver?
    Whats up with all this anyway? My theory? Its all a big cash grab..guilt parents into spoiling them rotten and spending tons of money doing it.
    Its all about their self-esteem and creativity…what it should be about is discipline, manners, and respect for others.
    Parents are too afraid of breaking little Brat’s “spirit” so “Brat” grows up thinking he/she is the centre of the universe and all adults are idiots.
    We all suffer in the end.
    Okay, I’m done……….

  71. I agree with everyone that doesn’t hate this article.

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