I heard someone mention recently, “It’s never been easy being a parent, but these days it’s harder than ever.”
Thinking objectively about that bold and broad statement, I harkened back to the trials and travails of our forefathers through the ages when so much about raising children was done at or around the family home or farm. There was no such thing as daycare or running to the supermarket at the last minute for chicken nuggets and apple juice to feed the youngins when the root cellar was barren.
Schooling was also done in the familiar environment with the family mother typically administering the lessons, if any. Needless to say, there was no outside “entertainment” to supply a share of the babysitting burden. Simple toys and games -- and discipline -- had to suffice. Those of us who grew up in more modern times with many of the current conveniences couldn’t relate to what those folks went through. Childhood diseases also inflicted a horrific mortality rate on families. If a child even made it to adulthood, he or she was considered fortunate. As an example, only one of Martha Custis Washington’s four children made it to his twenties, and he died at age 26. Now that’s human tragedy for you. Nevertheless, many, many parents look at our current “woke” culture as making it particularly arduous to raise the next generation. Huge entertainment conglomerates like the Disney Company are supplying much of the consternation, with their bend over-backwards accommodations to the ever more-demanding whims of leftist homosexual and transgender advocates. It’s enough to make any mom and dad shriek in frustration. Commenting on the recent controversy in Florida involving Gov. Ron DeSantis and the signed into law Parental Rights bill, George Neumayr wrote at The American Spectator:
“The extremism lies entirely on their side. They seek to separate children from their parents at the earliest grades, using tots as guinea pigs for increasingly outlandish woke experiments. Liberalism and parental rights have been on a collision course for some time. The goals of liberalism, which include enlisting children in its sexual revolution, simply cannot coexist with respect for the natural authority of parents. For decades, in the case of teen abortion, liberals have not only opposed parental consent laws but even parental notification laws. Their contempt for parental rights led inevitably to the propagandizing of children on all matters sexual.
“The separation of children from their parents is the mark of all tyrannies, both old and new. Tyrants have always seen the traditional family as a troublesome obstacle to their statist wishes. The Soviets famously instructed children to inform on their parents. Plutarco Calles, the 19th-century Mexican dictator, said, ‘We must enter and take possession of the consciences of the children, of the consciences of the young, because they do belong, and should belong to the revolution.’
“The critics of DeSantis subscribe to that vision of state education...”
The beginnings of separating children from parents happened long ago, but the real accelerator of the phenomenon has been the internet and social media together with the marvelous but inherently destructive invention of the smart device. This category includes your standard cell phones, which are no longer used primarily to make phone calls -- how 1990’s was that concept -- but instead for endlessly swiping and typing and pushing buttons until your digits are sore.
I’ve had friends describe their households in our time, and it’s shocking. Before dinner -- and even at dinner -- the adults are scrambling around the kitchen digging up something to eat while the children are in their rooms with doors closed unsupervised and playing on their devices or watching cable or satellite TV. This wouldn’t fly in my home, but one can only imagine how single parents feel powerless to work and maintain some semblance of control at the same time.
Huge out-of-touch corporations like Disney know these kids are out there, probably connected to the company’s wide range of entertainments during waking hours -- and overnight, too. What a terrific way to stump for the LGBTQ agenda, to make the whole world gay (not the happy kind, either)!
It doesn’t end there. Walk into any location where young people tend to gather and the scene is always the same. Invariably, at each table you have youths looking not at each other and engaging in conversations about the meaning of life or the attractiveness of a classmate or what the heck the professor meant by that cryptic philosophy lecture or off-topic tirade against buying timeshares. No, it’s a small gathering of neophytes staring down at their devices, communicating not with each other but with someone else -- God knows who -- somewhere not within shouting range.
To be fair, adults do it too. From my own experience, if I’m at Taco Bell and holding a table by myself while the rest of my companions are ordering our food and gathering the necessities to consume it, chances are I will look at my phone to see if there are any urgencies (in the form of texts or emails) I might be missing during my brief interlude away from the home base computer.
I’m guessing other adults of my age group are doing similar things, though I frequently get Facebook notifications about such and such having added a photo or updated his or her profile. I don’t bother clicking on those links. Heck, I haven’t touched my own Facebook page in I don’t know how long. But others seem to glorify in broadcasting their personal business to the outside world, to “friends” who’ve connected electronically even though they haven’t spoken a word to each other in decades.
This whole ‘nother universe is where young people grow up these days. I’ve known parents who’ve tried barricading their kids apart from it by denying them smart devices -- or, perish the thought -- merely allowing for old fashioned “flip” phones. Remember those? Oh, if we could only go back!
The ability to text and email instantly from practically everywhere can be a huge benefit, a business tool that’s no doubt been employed billions of times to conduct negotiations, consummate deals and even reject offers. For me personally, we conducted a home sale recently where we did about half of the communicating via finger workouts on our phones. It speeds everything up. But it’s also practically impossible to get away from it, even if you wanted to.
This goes double if you’re a kid or young adult who’s never known better. Offspring in their twenties may be able to recall a time when there weren’t smart phones in everyone’s hands. But teenagers (I know from experience) know no such world. Think about it. In the old days, when you were about to leave the house, you’d go through your mental checklist: Car keys, sunglasses (maybe), coat (maybe) and whatever business you’re conducting, handwritten on paper.
Now, no one dares leave safety without his or her phone. And, if by chance you realize you left the device behind, it’s the ONE thing you’ll head back home to retrieve. What if someone’s trying to get in touch with me when I’m out? What if a client calls when I’m away from the office and gets my full voicemail box that I never check? What if that email arrives and tells me to take the proposal or leave it ASAP?
We’ve become slaves to the gadgets, so critical to our modern existence yet so potentially injurious to those who either can’t grasp how harmful these mechanisms can be or worse, choose to exploit the technology for selfish gain. Take dating sites for example. Some/most people use them to meet people. I’ve known individuals who found their spouse this way. Then there are those who look for hook-ups only. There apparently are apps dedicated to the urges -- and they don’t screen for relationship or marital status.
This is an unintended consequence of the technology. How many marriages have been ruined by clandestine meetings that unsuspecting spouses knew nothing about until they subsequently uncovered them? How many lives have been ended by addicts having access to quick fixes that gave them a temporary high but drained their bank accounts and ultimately resulted in overdoses and death?
The Wright brothers celebrated the invention of the flying machine, what we call airplanes -- but they also regretted witnessing what the new wonders grew to be capable of. Ingenious minds took the powered flight concept and eventually strapped guns and bombs to the wings. Orville Wright lived until 1948. He saw his creativity employed to deploy nuclear weapons that killed tens of thousands of people at once, a consequence he likely hadn’t considered on that beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina a week before Christmas in December, 1903. Do you think he might’ve harbored some guilt about it? This is not saying that the individuals or companies that concocted the internet and modern communications and smart devices should feel bad about what they did. We can only assume they did so with the best of intentions, but human nature is human nature. Old souls have had a lifetime’s worth of experience to know how to use the new gizmos and combine them with a natural hesitation to go overboard, or use them for immoral purposes.
Children have no such limitations. Or even if they do, they probably reason that they’ll be excused for youth and naïveté if they find themselves in trouble.
Disney and companies like it are the worst of all offenders. Under the guise of providing good wholesome entertainment for children and teenagers, they invade the innocent minds of human beings who wouldn’t necessarily know better. It’s not possible for any parent, short of a complete ban on this type of thing, to know what awful “food for thought” is being force-fed to their kids. Gov. Ron DeSantis is a hero for not only working with the legislature to pass a parental rights bill, but for being willing to sacrifice himself on the altar of public opinion. Challenging Disney couldn’t be an easy thing, yet DeSantis did it, because it was the right thing to do.
No wonder parents believe it’s harder than ever to raise children in 2022.
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