What Causes Lack of Respect in Teenagers?
The lack of respect teenagers show these days is certainly no secret. Today, I found myself thinking about what some of the causes could be and I identified three things I believe contribute greatly to the lack of respect found in teenagers.
Changes in Government and Society
There was a time, and not that long ago, when most parents enforced the rules in their homes through several different methods including physical punishment.
These physical punishments, most often spankings, were actually very effective positive discipline for teenagers. They might not seem so positive but they were because the paddling was the final line. It brought real consequences to a child’s actions.
For example, when I was growing up if I did something I wasn’t supposed to do I’d find myself grounded for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Often, I’d be punished physically as well. I’m not talking about being slapped around or any foolishness like that. I’m talking about a good ole paddling. Often those were administered with a belt.
It wasn’t just me either. It was quite common for a kid to be spanked back when I was growing up.
The result? We learned if we did not want to get a whupping we needed to follow the rules.
Times have certainly changed. Some of the people who make the laws in this country decided that a parent disciplining their child by means of a paddling was child abuse.
These days any parent who spanks their child can have child abuse charges filed against them and find their state government interfering in their family life.
I believe this is one of the greatest reasons teenagers have a lack of respect today. Because without the backup of an actual real punishment there is no real motivation for a kid to change their behavior.
Parents today often have their kids right up in their faces yelling at their parents. What is the parent going to do? Well, when it comes right down to it they really cannot do anything.
Sure they can tell the child to stop it or else… but what is the or else? The parent can try grounding them from the television or computer. They can take away their cell phone. They can tell their disobedient child he / she are not leaving the house for a week.
This all sounds good. It should be effective, right? So… what happens when the child thinks “to heck with this!” and watches television and gets on the computer anyway? What if they sneak in and take back their cell phone? What if they sneak out of the house or simply walk out right in front of their parents?
Although this might seem quite extreme for kids to do, believe me, it does happen and is happening all over the USA every day. Talk to your friends. Watch the news. Search the Internet only briefly and you will discover what a huge problem this has become.
The bottom line is without any real “tool” in their toolbox the parents no longer have any real power to enforce the rules and make their kids behave.
Everyone Must Earn Respect… Including You!
Recently, I was reading an article that talked about how teachers are seeing an alarming trend these past few years.
The students are expecting everyone else to earn their respect. Teenagers make their teachers earn their respect. Until the teacher earns the respect the student has none for them simply because of the teachers position.
The same goes for their parents and even other teenagers. They do not respect people for being older. They do not respect people for things they have accomplished. They do not respect their parents for providing for them and for bringing them into the world in the first place.
I have talked to many teenagers in an attempt to understand it. The things I have been told are “what other people have done has nothing to do with me” and “Why do adults always brag about what they have done, pat themselves on the back and want us to kiss their behinds?”
The only explanation I have for this behavior is the teenagers may have learned this from a role model.
A Disrespectful Role Model
If a child has grown up around a parent, or other adult role model, who often talks and acts disrespectfully the child will pick up on that.
For example, if a parent is always complaining about their job, and in particular, complaining about their boss or other people they work with… think about what kind of message this sends to kids.
First, the child can begin to lose respect for their parent. They may think “wow, (mom or dad) must be a real pushover if they have so many problems at work.” They may also support their parent fully and think “I’ll never let some idiot ruin my life like that. I won’t even give them the chance to!”
Neither of these views is a healthy way for a child to see the world and other people. Under such circumstances, it is understandable how the child may develop an aggressive personality causing them to challenge all authority. After all they have seen what such people did to their parent’s life. They’ve listened to their parent complain about it for years. The child may simply be doing whatever they can to make sure they will not be treated the same way as their parent has been.
I’m not laying the blame solely on parents. Believe me, I understand this cannot be the entire reason behind teenagers lack of respect.
The Always Improving Parent has four children. He understands the challenges today’s parents face.
Filed under: Parenting
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