As a new parent I have yet to encounter the fine line between being a parent and being a friend to my children, however this past weekend that imaginary line seemed to be the topic of many conversations.
The playpen diaries
In Moose Jaw it was the city bus situation that had people talking, out east it was the alleged abuse a Toronto man had suffered at the hands of teens and in the United States it was the light sentencing of a 16-year-old boy that had the public's blood boiling.
In all three situations it seems those involved not only knew what they were doing but didn't care about the consequences and walked away with a slap-on-the-wrist. In the case of the Moose Jaw kids vs. the bus, the situation is still under investigation, so the outcome is yet to be determined. However, if the allegations are indeed correct, the way those teens behaved should be deemed unacceptable and they should be punished accordingly. But that's where it gets murky. Who should do the punishing? In this case it will most likely be placed on the parents to dole out the punishment. In some cases this is a good thing and in others the worst.
It then comes down to the morals of the parent, the relationship they have with their child and in what degree they view the infraction.
When I was a teen I was expected to have a level of respect for my parents, my seniors and really any person of authority. This is not because I saw people treat these individuals with respect on TV or because I read about it in a book, but because that's what my parents taught me. Any lack of respect shown towards these people was not acceptable and would be accompanied by punishment. I am not resentful toward my parents for drawing that line. I don't think I suffered as a teenager because there were consequences for my actions. In fact, I think I am a better person, a better worker and a more rounded individual because of it.
If I failed a test in school it wasn't because my teacher was too hard on me, didn't do a good enough job or because they didn't offer me support. It was because I didn't study, I didn't ask for help or because I was lazy, my parents knew that, and again I, not my teacher, was held responsible for my actions.
In Texas, 16-year-old Ethan Couch, in the eyes of many, literally got away with murder. After stealing beer and fleeing a Wal-Mart, Couch, a wealthy Texas teen, drove his Ford F-150 into a woman, her broken down car, two people who had come to the woman's aid and a passerby, killing all four people. During the incident two teens in the bed of Couch's truck were also seriously injured. According to Time.com, although he pleaded guilty to four counts of manslaughter by intoxication and two counts of assault by intoxication causing bodily harm, crimes punishable by up to 20 years in a state penitentiary, Couch walked away with 10 years of probation - an extremely light sentence, especially for the Texas justice system. The reason for the lenient sentence? Affluence.
According to Couch's defense team, the teen only acted the way he did because he didn't know any better. So according to this defense, his parents let him get away with too much and gave him too much, resulting in the inability to decipher right from wrong?
Although this case is the extreme and I am sure this is not going to be the last we hear about it, it is the perfect example of why we are now dealing with a generation of kids who think they are invincible.
Whether they are dealing with their parents, teachers, elders or the police, the lack of respect for authority and personal accountability some youth have is leaving society to clean up their messes.
However, although the parents in many of these situations are at fault, it also boils down to society as a whole.
As a society we are allowing all the power and respect a teacher once had to be slowly stripped away.
We are allowing technology to put up a wall for kids to hide behind and use as a tool to be cruel. We are befriending our children instead of demanding respect. Although those who cause problems are, for now, the minority, that could very-well change.
Growing up there were a few sayings that always struck a chord with me and no matter how old I get, they will always be words to live by: treat others the way you want to be treated. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. There is no such thing as a dumb questions. And last but not least, respect yourself and others will respect you.
Today's youth are not as fragile as we might think. They are smarter than we give them credit for and the sooner we help them realize consequences are not a death sentence but instead lessons to be learned, everyone will be much better off.
Lyndsay McCready can be reached at 306-691-1263 or follow her on Twitter @Newsielou