Integrity Matters
May 23, 2007

Children reflect on their parents

Question: (E-294)

Rude and out-of-control youngsters in public places seem to be a growing problem. Can parents take steps to make sure they're part of the solution?


Attentive parents can make things better. After all, who else allows inappropriate behavior to escalate? Too many of today's moms and dads - up and down the socioeconomic spectrum - are sidestepping legitimate responsibilities for nurturing those they chose to bring into the world.

Latchkey children were once thought of as the byproduct of the lower middle class. But today, abandoned youth can be found across the socioeconomic spectrum. Hard-working parents trade their "one-on-one-time" for popular child-centric toys, often in the name of preparing their children for the future.

A previous generation used the "boom box" to tell adults to keep their distance. Today's more passive-aggressive children, with parental encouragement, employ iPods, PlayStations, personal cell phones and complete audio-video systems in automobiles to protect their space. All the while, these self-absorbed adults ignore children's needs and miss golden opportunities for important conversations.

Isolated by ear phones and screens, young people's interpersonal growth is crippled, making them susceptible to practically anyone paying attention to them. Emotional vacuums are clearly understood by predators, making lonely youth attractive targets for pedophiles, pornographers and gang members. Unprepared youth fall victim to seductive promises because they had not constructed a substantive protective wall to fend off seemingly attractive offers.

However, one uncomplicated adult activity could blunt the sick efforts of destructive predators: listening.
Children want and need to be heard. They expect give and take, often begging for realistic limits, sometimes to save themselves from themselves. Here are a few suggestions for how to start listening:

  • Driving with children is a time to talk, sing and listen.
  • Television programs can be discussed, enabling responsible adults to learn what is being absorbed - the positive and the negative.
  • Discussing the news provides opportunities for more give and take.
  • Asking questions about almost anything gives young people a platform to share.
  • Respect and graciousness are integral to constructive listening.
  • Listening, which improves behavior, begins one integrity-centered conversation at a time.

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