Integrity Matters
May 25, 2005

Hospitality workers need not play the parent

Question: (E-187)

Dear Jim:

Are hospitality employees responsible for "parenting" party-going teens, whether at proms or graduation celebrations?


No, and neither should teachers have to be surrogate parents.

Parents are responsible for their children, and educators are hired to provide insights and nurture learning. Teachers are unable to do their jobs when they are confronted daily with out-of-control behaviors that are modeled, sanctioned and financed by irresponsible parents. Teachers complain that an increasing amount of their time is spent on discipline, not learning. When human beings, especially young people, don't receive clear expectations and limits, then chaos is the outcome. Hormone-driven teenagers have the most need, with the least appreciation, for guidelines that clarify consequences.

At age 16, I remember arriving home later than agreed - at 3:30 a.m. instead of my midnight curfew. This tardiness was met with a silent stare from my pacing father. His few words, beyond saying he was relieved I was home safe, related to my need to be ready to do a few chores in two hours.

Dad never was much with spanking or loud lectures. Guilt was a powerful five-letter word.

Terms such as responsibility and respect were sprinkled through his comments about how one should treat even strangers, let alone parents. As warned, I found myself at 5:30 that same morning, washing and waxing two cars.

Even today, I phone when I might be late.

Parents and school administrators must get real and stay engaged.

Hotels and restaurants are not paid to supervise children. Young people see adults abdicating responsibility in an increasingly permissive society.

Teachers are restrained from challenging family-sanctioned misbehavior. Popular heroes usually are media-manufactured - and often spoiled cheaters, themselves.

So parents and educators, please join arms and enforce constructive standards. Stand for integrity by showing up and supporting the values you care about. This is graduation season. With approval from those in authority, take actions:

  • Get involved.
  • Offer to be a chaperone.
  • Prowl the parking lots.
  • Move around the dance floor.
  • Roam the halls.
Integrity, and our children, can be the winners.

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