Changes

On account of my daily work, I have been asked from time to time whether or not children have changed much over the course of the last thirty or forty years. The tone in which this is asked, suggests that the questioner him/herself is inclined to answer ”yes” without giving it much further thought. Having reflected upon this question, I will give two fictitious examples of occurrences that make this unreserved answer ”yes” somewhat more relative.

In 1959 Johnny Talkative was in upper elementary. He had misbehaved once again and when the teacher’s reprimands, at first given mildly and then more sternly, were not effective, Johnny was punished corporally. When he came home, Johnny wisely kept his mouth shut, hoping that no one would ask him how things had gone at school that day. He knew that if his father would discover what had happened, he would receive further punishment, which would certainly not be less gentle than what the teacher had done And that he would have to spend a portion of his free time inside was also a certainty.

It is forty years later. Johnny has long since become John. He is happily married and has several children. His youngest daughter, Mary, is already in junior high. Mary’s conduct honors her last name, and because a teacher after several friendly warnings, has become tired of it, she received a punishment assignment. Upon coming home, Mary related in detail how everyone in the class had been talking and that it made no sense that only she had received a punishment assignment. She made her opinion clear: ”I’m not going to do it either.” Mother has a listening ear. To the teacher in question she writes a note containing the following two sentences: ”Mary did not deserve punishment. She does not have to do the assignment from me either.” Fortified with this note, Mary dares to face a confrontation with the teacher. What did the teacher do with this note? Remaining calm, he in return writes a note containing the following three sentences: ”Mary did deserve the punishment. She must do the assignment. Tonight she does not have to help with the dishes.”

Later that afternoon the teacher was only just home, when he received a phone call. Tremendously agitated and irritated, Mrs. Talkative asked him what doing dishes had to do with it (the punishment assignment). Calmly the teacher explained: "Nothing, madam: you are right. You are the boss at home, but may I remain it at school?”

Naturally these are but examples, but they are not far removed from reality. Therefore it seems to me that we would be better served to modify the question with which I began this reflection: ”What has changed, the children or the upbringing?” In all likelihood you know very well what has certainly changed. (end of article)

The reason why I have chosen to translate and include this article speaks for itself. Unfortunately we also have students who think they have a right to interpret rules in their own way or to violate them if they think the teacher or bus driver is being unfair to them. And, indeed, they are encouraged to do so when they know Mom or Dad will listen to their complaints about how unfair the teachers and bus drivers are. Please, parents, uphold the authority of the bus drivers and teachers by supporting them when they finally issue punishment work or suspensions. Such steps are never taken lightly. If you have questions or concerns, call the teacher or bus driver involved to get his/her side of the story. Do not communicate your disagreement via your children in any way. If teachers and bus drivers have to ask your permission before they can exercise discipline, you have robbed them of their God-given authority to which you have submitted your children when you enroll them in school. I know that bus drivers and teachers are not perfect either and they can also make wrong interpretations of events, wrong judgements, etc., but if their authority is eroded at the parental level, they will eventually become frustrated, insecure, and disillusioned in their work, and this will translate into more problems iri the future.