Five years ago when my children were four and six years old my spouse and I bought them iPads. They didn’t receive them as a gift for an occasion, it was simply that we spent too long in the Apple store waiting for a genius to repair my phone. While we waited the children played on the iPads and were smitten. When I think of it, the store concept is quite ingenious from a marketing and sales perspective. As parents we told ourselves that we would be doing our children a favour by giving them access to countless educational apps and getting them a head-start on becoming tech savvy. Retrospectively of course we were ridiculously delusional for ever thinking that way.
Fast-forward (do children now days even know what fast-forward means?!) five years and my children are entitled assholes. Monsters even. Their patience is non-existent. Want that new game? You’ve got it in seconds. They can’t spell, that’s what auto-correct is for. Their printing is virtually illegible because they usually type. Imagination is a thing of the past, they watch adults on YouTube opening boxes of new toys instead of playing with their own toys. They are lazy from spending all their spare time in a seated position. I can’t blame Apple exclusively, after all, I bought those iPads.
You might be wondering how all of this has any relevance to my own happiness, well friends let me tell you. Every day my household is a battleground. It’s parents vs children in a war for respect, cleanliness and completion of basic necessities of home management. Today for example I asked one of my children to shovel the snow. That simple request was replied to like this: “WHY DON”T YOU DO IT YOURSELF?” and continued on from there for longer than I care to admit. Had I ever spoken to my parents in such a manner an ass-whooping would have been imminent. Living in a war zone where every request is an argument and no one helps anyone with anything becomes exhausting. The heaviness of negativity is weighing down our house. I am tired. I am unhappy.
So what’s a parent to do to undo five years of entitlement? Take hold of the wheel and steer that ship straight into the storm. It’s going to be exhausting for awhile and quite honestly very unpleasant but it needs to be done. The children will need to earn their privileges through respectful words and hard work. We’re going back in time to farm-style. Do you want to eat? Then you had better help with the preparation. Do you want to play with your friends? Then you had better make sure the house is clean. Do you want to watch tv? Then be respectful and do as your told. Sadly it’s come to this and it will surely be met with resistance. I accept the blame for being too accommodating and accept my punishment. It will be misery for everyone but in the end I will be happier when they start to listen and they stop being assholes. One day they will speak to me kindly, in full sentence form and do chores without being asked first. At least that’s the hope.
I wonder if this happens to every generation of parents. In 1880 did conversations go like this?
“George, I really want to get electricity because it will make things so much easier for us.”
“Martha, I’m sorry but the answer is no. If we get electricity the children will forget how to light a lantern and start thinking they can stay up past sunset”