I tend to be a people watcher of sorts. I like to see how people react in public and with one another. One thing I watch for in particular is how parents react to their children and vice versa. Having 3 of my own children I know how stressful it can be to take children ANYWHERE in public. There are so many things that can trigger a meltdown and I have felt the embarrassment of having to deal with one in the middle of a crowded place but I handled it accordingly and moved on, as most parents should, but don’t always.
We take our kids out for a special treat every few weeks. It’s usually nothing fancy and today was certainly no different. We ended up at McDonalds so that our oldest could play and run off some energy. The weather here cannot seem to make up its mind and it decided to snow this morning, although it did not stick. So after a day of being stuck in the house we all needed a little break.
Upon arrival I took the kids to the play area while my husband ordered food. I walked into the play place with three kids in tow and it truly was like walking into a zoo. I was not comfortable even sitting my children down or letting our oldest go play. There was a group of children between the ages of about 4-8 years old. There were 5 of them altogether but even in such a huge open space it felt as if there were 300. They were climbing on the slide, jumping OFF of tables and chairs, swinging from the railing of the play area, jumping into the mesh net so hard it seemed as if the polls would fall over, and at one point were wrestling one another to the floor and choking each other. They came very close to knocking my 4 year old down a number of times. I know the saying goes “kids will be kids” but I am a firm believer that children should grow up with respect for people and others property.
It took me about 10 seconds to find the adult with these children. He was sitting in a corner at a table alone. Much to my surprise he actually was paying very close attention to the children. When looking for the caretaker of the children I just assumed that he would have been occupied on other things and did not notice the behavior of the children. Every parent in the room was watching them ‘go wild’ as they called it yet their actions did not bother the man. At one point an older couple had an employee politely come ask them to stop. When the employee left the children settled for a moment and then it happened. The adult with them got upset stating how ridiculous it was that his children treat their play place with a little respect, then reiterating that the children did not need to settle down. And off the children went to do as they pleased despite the employees request.
It made me realize that the lack of respect in todays society did NOT start with this generation but with their parents. If the parents have no respect for others things what is that teaching our children? If we refuse to discipline or correct in any way do you truly think we are going to raise well rounded citizens? No. The saying “lead by example” cannot be more true today than it has ever been. The sad part is that most parents would rather sit back and turn a blind eye than have to DEAL with their children. You are not doing a child any favors by allowing them to do as they please. Is it easier? Hell yes! There are days when my kids do something and I just do not feel like dealing with it for the ten thousandth time but if I do not correct it now then who will? The police a few years down the road? I refuse to let it get that far! Children need structure, guidance, discipline, and love. They need someone to teach them, as well as show them respect.
We live in a society where people feel entitled to things that they have not earned or worked for. Respect is not given freely to whoever believes they deserve it, it is earned. This is something every parent should be instilling in their children from a very young age. I am no perfect parent and make mistakes daily but my children always say please and thank you and I’ll be damned if they ever treat someone else’s property with such little care, especially if I am sitting right there to stop them. Parents, get off butt and do what parents are supposed to do! Educate and guide your children in the right direction. It is much easier to do it at 4 than at 14 because by that time it is usually much to late. My motto is this…. I would rather correct now and be proud later than to overlook now and be sorry later.