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Show Some Respect!
Pastor Joe Giacometti ©2002

Has anyone else noticed the lack of respect our young people have in our society today? Not all young people, but an increasingly high number. I’ve noticed it more with the younger students, not necessarily the high school students. And not just for me, but I’ve noticed for many adults in the church, it’s hard to get respect from a twelve year old, ten year old, or even an eight year old any more. And it’s really, really frustrating! It almost makes you have to be a meaner person. And so, as I’ve become a bit “meaner” towards those young ones in the church, and taken sort of a “no nonsense” attitude, the more they realize I mean business, and the less they try to take advantage of me. At first you try to be guiding with a bit of discipline if you see them up to something maybe they shouldn’t be. You understand that since they’re young, and you’re old, they will respect you and obey with no questions asked. Then, without expecting it, they say “no” or ask “why” or say “I don’t have to,” and you find yourself a bit shocked with the whole situation. Then, when they do give in to you, you only find that they’ve fooled you in some way, and pretty much just agreed with you to get you off of their back, and to leave you alone, at least temporarily.

So why is this happening as our society advances in nearly every other aspect? Well, it could be a couple of reasons. Of course, my theories could be wrong, but I think they are logical at least. For some reason, as our society grows, there is more for our kids to do and to get involved with, so that creates sort of a trap for less guidelines than maybe we had as kids. As they learn all the bounds of their PC’s, PS2’s, and Nintendo’s, they become comfortable with “doing what they want.” It’s amazing that kids have two or more of the above listed equipment in the first place, with almost no resistance from parents. A lot even have all three. When I was a kid, I had to beg for at least a year before I was allowed to have a “Sega Base System,” and that was around or less than $100. Now if a kid wants a computer, the next day their out looking for a computer, or the new PS2 or dreamcast, which are both significantly more expensive than any video game system I ever wanted. Not to mention a computer, depending on the model, is at least somewhere around $1,000. With these things, with many parents, there are not many boundaries. Almost endless time can be spent using any of these (particularly a computer). The parents are spending less and less time taking their kids to parks, or to cultural events, and using what little time they’ve left for their kids in the first place, learning how to play the games with their kids. With little limits or boundaries from parents, how in the world are non-parent supervisors supposed to easily contain what they can or want to do?

I am not generalizing this to everybody, but these are two things that I believe do happen very much. Not to mention, I think kids don’t get as much instruction from their parents on how they are supposed to act when they are not around their parents. Or specific instruction on where they are supposed to be, and what they are supposed to be doing if they are in a situation where the kids are with the parents, but the parents are involved with something else. I mean, my mom still tells me to be on my best behavior in certain situations, and don’t give the people I’m with any trouble or whatever. Ok, so maybe it has been a couple of years since she has, but man, she never forgot to tell me multiple times how to act, and how to treat others in any given situation where my parents would not be present. Pretty annoying at the time, but now I’m realizing “yeah! Parents don’t do that as much any more. Way to go mom!”

So parents, if you’re reading this, please give you kids some boundaries and rules up front rather than waiting for things to happen then trying to fix it. I see so many kids in a youth group type setting (not necessarily my own) who are there because they strive to feel love in a structured sort of way. Who’ve never had boundaries their whole lives, and whose parents might not have been involved enough to care about or create them. They find that in a youth group type setting, with adults there who love them, and keep them in check. But it shouldn’t start with the youth group; the youth group should support it after years of foundation at home.