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Parental Wisdom: Lacking Respect or Missing in Action?

Parental Wisdom: Lacking Respect or Missing in Action?



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Published by Bill Allin
Parents have trouble with their teenaged kids not because they don't try but because they don't know what to do to avoid the problems when the kids are young enough that they can make a difference.
Find the home site of author Bill Allin at http://billallin.com
Parents have trouble with their teenaged kids not because they don't try but because they don't know what to do to avoid the problems when the kids are young enough that they can make a difference.
Find the home site of author Bill Allin at http://billallin.com

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Published by: Bill Allin on Jul 16, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Parental Wisdom: Lacking Respect or Missing in Action?
Personal transformation can and does have global effects. As we go, so goes the world, for theworld is us. The revolution that will save the world is ultimately a personal one.-Marianne Williamson, American peace activist, author, lecturer, minister (b. 1952)
Where is wisdom in the inevitable transformation that is taking place on ourplanet? Is it stronger than ever, though apparently disguised. Has itvanished? Do we even recognize wisdom today as we did in the past?Most people would agree that Albert Schweitzer was wise. Here's anexample:
 Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature asworthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.- Albert Schweitzer, philosopher, physician, musician, Nobel laureate (1875-1965)
We could explain so much about our world today using this thought. Whereis that kind of wisdom? While Schweitzer's observation has always been trueof our species, the fact that today the leaders of industry knowingly poisonthe air they breathe and the water they use in their own bodies for the sakeof profit should raise alarm. They have put profit ahead of survival, which isclearly in opposition to the instinct of every living thing.Leaders of industry hold out the promise of jobs as bait so that politiciansand bureaucrats will allow them to commit acts that no other civilization inhistory has done to itself. They argue that, in effect, "my way must be rightbecause I thought of it." They argue that making their industry eco-friendlywill be economically unfeasible, though the evidence on the ground showsthat this argument is patently false.We believe them because we somehow attribute to them wisdom. Or wewant the money that derives from the jobs they will create. Today, as in thepast, wealth trumps reason. Does that mean that wisdom no longer exists?These lessons we teach to our children, whether intentionally or not.Historically, wisdom was the purview of the elderly. Elders traditionally hadexperience doing much the same activities as the younger generations weredoing. Experience derives from making mistakes then learning from them.That learning could be taught, which made the teachers--the elderly,experienced ones in society--considered wise.A century ago 85 percent of the population of North America lived in ruralareas and derived their income directly or indirectly from agriculture. Today
85 percent of the populations of Canada and the United States live in cities.The continuity of experience has been broken. Today's young adults don'twant to learn skills of farming. Many city dwelling adults today have notaccustomed themselves to social and emotional survival methods required incity life, so cannot teach them to their children.Within the memory span of older people living today women entered theworkforce (during the Second World War when men were away fighting), itbecame acceptable for women to wear pants rather than dresses or skirts towork, women have learned the trades of welding, plumbing, auto mechanicsand others, women have become bosses and employers rather than entrylevel employees and women have even become heads of states in largecountries. The continuity was broken. We accept these changes but havelittle idea how they impact our personal and family lives.Office "pencil pushers" of the past now press buttons on keyboards. Themore skilled among them program software to operate to the specific needsof companies. Today's older people have stories to pass along to youngergenerations, but those stories are considered by young people to lack usableinformation, thus don't count as wisdom. Old folks just don't "get it."Young people in North America now text their friends 300 times a day, onaverage, while their grandparents may still be reluctant to pick up a phoneto call someone because they "may be busy." While many of today's parentsof teenagers grapple with the thought of teaching "sex" to kids younger than16 years, close to half our kids have sex before their thirteenth birthday andthe number who have sex before their ninth birthday is closing in on doubledigit percentages.Somehow our adult generations have come to believe that ignorance isimportant in children. They call it "innocence" as if they can stop kids frombehaving in certain ways as they can stop certain behaviours of family pets.The disconnect here is that childhood is the time people are supposed tolearn about adulthood, not be protected from learning about it. The wholepurpose of childhood is as a training period for adulthood. Conventional"wisdom" says that the world is too ugly for children to be exposed to, yetevidence shows it is actually more peaceful, organized and orderly than everbefore in history. What parents believe becomes what children accept asfact.Children know that they should know the facts about certain things, even if they are not certain of exactly what they should know. It's a gut feeling. Achild of 12 who has sex understands that he or she should know more about
what they are doing than they do, but has no idea where to learn theneeded information, from whom or even what they should know. What theydo know is how to put tab A into slot B, as every child knows, and natureprovides them with the hormones to make the convergence morecompelling.An interviewer on a U.S. national radio network asked me not long ago, onair, when I lost my virginity. When I told him he all but called me a liarbecause he expected me to say age 12 or 13. He said so and his on-aircolleagues agreed. This is the world of today.Parents and grandparents who are not fully connected to that world or whoare in denial of the facts will not connect with children who are constantlygrowing and experiencing outside of home. In turn, the children will not seetheir parents or grandparents as wise, maybe not even credible. Not only willmany adults not tell the kids the facts they want to know, they refuse to tellthem and they deny what the kids are living every day. And what they arelearning, often inaccurately, every day.How can we expect young people to consider their parents or grandparentswise when they aren't? "Innocence" equals ignorance. Denial equalsstupidity. Stupidity is prolific. When kids can't get answers from theirparents they turn to others who will answer. Just as with making friends, thepeople who are easiest to get answers from are the most dangerous andundependable. For example, drug dealers hang around outside manyelementary schools today, ready to give free advice as well as "samples."Wisdom exists today, but those who want access to it must search for it. Theinternet has answers to all questions. Some of the answers are wrong, evendangerous. But some are dead-on right. Rather than teach children how toevaluate what they may find on the internet, many parents deny their kidswill look at such things and others put kid-control programs on theircomputers.Today kids can find computers all over the place and the averagesix-year-old can figure out the passwords their parents put on. Denying kidsaccess to information they want makes them believe their parents are stupidor oppressive, not wise. Indeed, parents who do not avail themselves of theopportunities to teach their children what they want to know and what theyneed to know--the primary objective of parenthood after having sex andgiving birth--do not deserve to be considered wise.Wisdom exists today, but not in conventional places or sources. Forexample, you learned something by reading this article that your parents

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Bill Allin added this note
Society cannot be held accountable as an individual can. However, it is forced to suffer as a result of its neglect in these other ways. The book is specific about recommendations for how to improve education systems.
Bill Allin added this note
Thanks cdinwv. Blaming parents achieves nothing because nothing can be changed or corrected this way. Society's responsibility is to change its education systems so they address the needs of their children. See my book "Turning It Around" for specifics (http://billallin.com) Society's accountability is the results you see on the streets, in homes, in prisons, in psychiatric hospitals.
Bill Allin added this note
Thanks Jimmy. I have not confirmed your beliefs. I have validated them, allowing you to understand that you are not alone. Truth that is not shared is lost.
Bill Allin added this note
duponthumanite, the sentences you noted are shocking to most people. They show (the shock shows) how out of touch most of us are with the realities of children today. Their world is different, vastly different, from the one we grew up in. If we don't teach young adults parenting skills we will have increasing numbers of social problems (and messed up kids) on our hands and no way to deal with them
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