The first time I saw it happen, I found it shocking. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th time – I found it fascinating. But by now I just find it pathetic.
What is the ‘it’? A new thing in family life - I call it ‘Powerless Parenting’. The thing that is so strange about it – is that it appears to be rising as the newest “boastable” item. Let me demonstrate.
I was in the dentist office last week and there was a mother with a teenage son. As he sat there with a smug look on his face, she loudly complained to the receptionist about how little control she had over him. She proceeded to whine over the fact that he “refused” to allow her access to his computer or to even see what he does on it! The receptionist commiserated, and began bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t control her children either. Sordid details of the disrespectful, obnoxious things their children did were laundered for all to see. And it soon became obvious that they were actually competing as to who the winner was; as in - the parent who was most powerless. Though I call it most “pathetic”.
Prior generations never really considered this something to strive for. Guess they were just not as ‘hip’ or ‘loving’ as we. In fact, my mother would have known exactly how to deal with that smug look on the dentist office teenager’s face. Her solution was not too technical; and involved no outside help at all. It was called “Mother’s palm” delivered quickly and unhesitatingly to “child’s face”. A remedy that caused very little pain, but a great deal of needed humility – to a disrespectful individual.
Amazingly, my little 4'11" mom had no trouble with “power” over her 5 children. In fact, she probably would have used her ‘smug solution’ on those ‘powerless’ mother’s faces too, had she been in the room. For she, like most other sane people, recognize the truth. And it is that children, who believe they have ‘power’ to do whatever they want in life, do not come to good ends. That’s why they have parents in the first place – to teach them that essential life lesson.
Scientists a while back did studies on “self esteem”. You know what demographic group has the HIGHEST self-esteem in America?
No, no and no again………..
Murderers sitting on death row.
Yes, that is the demographic group that has the highest self-esteem rates in America. In fact, their self-esteem is so high; that they do not even think another person’s life is worth getting in the way of their wants.
Surely something to aim for in a child, eh?
But that’s the end result of ‘Powerless Parenting’ – children who believe themselves to be the center of the universe. The downside is that they are being raised alongside millions of other ‘centers of the universe’. And the pesky thing about ‘centers’ is that… there’s only one.
So they are all in for a huge wake up call. And every one of them has been given absolutely zero tools by their parents with which to deal with that phone ringing.
Recently, at an airline safety meeting, it was reported that the number of people from this younger generation who are making it through flight training is less than 20%. It’s a real problem for the industry. But it seems that when young people today are put in a simulator and faced with problems in the cockpit – engine failure, wind sheer, hydraulics leak, and so forth – they get to the point where things get so stressful that …… they…… quit.
Raising their hands, they cry out – “I give up!!” And then with a smile, they immediately follow with: “I’ll just try it again.”
The instructors look at them in amazement, and say –
“You don’t get to give up – YOU ARE THE PILOT!”
And then those instructors immediately follow with, “And you don’t get to TRY IT AGAIN – when you’re dead!”
Most young people are shocked, SHOCKED!, when they are told they have failed. This is just not something they have been raised to hear. In fact, they are plainly insulted and angered at the concept of being told that unacceptable word – “No”.
Sadly; shocked, insulted or just plain confused with what that “No” word means, these young people nonetheless find themselves back out on the street - having discovered that they really weren’t the center of the universe. With more ‘shock’ than ‘awe’, they finally realize that they are not able to do whatever they want - when it matters most of all – in their adult career.
In hindsight, they would have surely benefited greatly from my mother’s ‘palm to face’ method when they were young enough that the “no” word simply meant time in their room; and not time on unemployment. Because if their parents had not been so Powerless – perhaps their adult lives would not be fraught with so much failure.
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.