Originally posted May 21, 2010, for KVOE.com “What’s On My Plate.”
“Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it.”
— Haim Ginott
“Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.”
— Robert A. Heinlein
“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children.”
— Edward, Duke of Windsor, Look, 5 March 1957
“I believe parents should be role models…. It’s not like it was when I was growing up. My mom and my grandmother told me how it was going to be…Parents have to take better control.”
— Charles Barkley
Before you read further, please watch these video – whether you have seen them all the way through or not.
I was pretty sick to my stomach when I saw the first video. The second video only made matters worse.
There are several scary talking points attached to these videos. The costumes, dance itself and the world of dance are the things you see in the first video. It’s the world of parenting displayed in the second video that needs attention here.
Why, you may ask? The parents certainly did nothing with the dance. The choreographer put this routine together, and probably put in some long hours “perfecting” it. The dancers had to agree to it.
But the parents had the final say. And the parents could have said it was not acceptable. They didn’t.
Instead, they defended the dance and their unwillingness to take a stand. It’s the way the dance world is nowadays. It wasn’t supposed to be seen by a worldwide audience, so if you take it in the proper context of a dance competition that makes it all right. The song is part of pop culture, so the song was appropriate for the contest. The costumes are designed to show off how well the girls can handle highly technical moves.
Other people agreed. The girls don’t think they are doing anything wrong. If you think so, then you’re imposing your adult views on them.
Excuse me? Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do as a parent?
Aren’t parents supposed to set limits and, just as important, enforce them? Aren’t parents supposed to see the world at large, find the potential trouble spots ahead and prepare the children for them? Aren’t parents supposed to teach their children right and wrong?
One comment from parents on Good Morning America raised a lot of red flags for me. They said the performance was only for that particular stage and that particular audience. Extremely myopic. Thanks to the Internet, specifically the advent of YouTube, Limewire and other file sharing sites, it doesn’t take much for performances such as this to get into the wrong hands.
Well before I moved to Emporia, I worked with one person who I later discovered was a convicted child molester. He was friendly enough except for one brief instance. I was chatting with a small group of co-workers in a break when I saw his gaze slide quickly over my right shoulder…and I saw his eyes change from human to predatory animal in less than a heartbeat.
It was one of the most unnerving interactions I have ever been part of.
The object of this change: A new hire, dressed in a polo shirt and shorts, 16 years old. The subjects of his molestations: Girls ages 10-12.
As a parent, I have to look out five, 10, 20 years down the road and prepare my daughter for the world ahead. Thanks to how the world has developed, especially over the last 15 years, I have to look at a host of worst-case scenarios for what she may have to face.
Far more than my newscasts every morning, far more than my involvement in severe weather coverage, this is the most important responsibility I will ever have. It’s a charge I take seriously because of the ramifications if I don’t do my job well or simply abandon it.
This is why I’m so bent out of shape about these two videos. More and more parents now try to befriend their children rather than give them the best chance to succeed in life. I understand the desire to give our children the things we couldn’t attain when we were young, but all too often that devolves into giving the child whatever it wants when it wants. Or it gets confused. Regardless, if you subscribe to this mindset, you eventually get to an incident like this whether it stays in house or becomes a viral video.
It is in the presence of boundaries, reasonably set, consistently applied, that our children grow straight and true into the leaders that our society desperately needs. This does not happen in the absence of boundaries, no matter how “free” both parents and children may feel without those restrictions. It just doesn’t.
And parents actively involved in their calling to truly raise their children don’t respond as the parents did in the GMA interview.
We are parents. We set the rules. We set the expectations. We foster the dreams. We guide, correct, encourage, filter, guard, prod, warn, instruct, serve, protect. In that work, we do our best to ensure the world is brighter and better – and not just for us or for them.
We don’t compromise. We don’t apologize.
These are our children. Our standards for them and for our world should be extremely high so theirs can be even higher for their children and the world around them. If our standards for our children slip for whatever reason or excuse, to what depths will their children slide later?
Make the world a better place. Parent your damn kids.