“What is wrong with the younger generation today?”
any adult that question and inevitably the answer will boil down to the
fact that, in general, kids just seem to have a serious lack of respect
today. Not all kids display this character flaw, but a large number of
them certainly do. And the ones who demonstrate a lack of respect for
people, property and themselves tend to be the most vocal and the most
The biggest problem is that lack of respect is contagious. If
someone shows disdain for property, others around him gradually lose their
sense of respect as well and you get a group mentality at work.
don’t think anything can be done to correct this problem. We may just
have to accept that many young people today are going to continue to be
disrespectful of just about everything and everyone.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am certainly
not saying that we should give up on children, but if we really want to
see any improvement in our youth, we are going to have to change the way
that adults live. And that is going to be a lot harder than dealing with
the younger generation.
reality was driven home to me the other day when I received a letter from
a hockey referee in
. I publish a hockey web site at afterthewhistle.com. Referees often send
in stories about their “defining moments” in the sport. The following
letter reminded me that adults often forget that children are watching
everything they do. Let me share the letter with you.
defining moment came from a game that really didn’t seem out of the
ordinary. Two minor bantam teams were playing each other in a regular
season game, however, the two teams were mismatched in size and talent.
The superior club was bigger and faster, throwing clean body checks
throughout the game building up a 5 – 1 lead. The weaker team players
never gave up. They got up after every hit and skated their hearts out to
get back into the play. Late in the 3rd period a group of
“mothers” from the weak team’s side of the rink decided that I (the
referee) was the big reason for the lop-sided game and began to hurl
insults my way. They were very vulgar and very, very loud. As usual I
ignored them and stayed focused on the game at hand. A face-off was about
to take place near this group of unhappy campers in an end zone location.
Now these kids are 13 years old and not too much would get them razzled.
The center iceman from the weak team lifts up his face and looks at me
with tears streaming down the side of his cheeks and says, “I just wish
they’d go home.” For a quick second, I couldn’t breathe. I held on
to that puck probably too long and found myself misting up. I wanted to
eject all of those responsible for creating that memory for that child.
Unfortunately, some adults don’t understand the repercussions of their
last sentence says it all and is worth repeating. “Unfortunately, some
adults don’t understand the repercussions of their actions.”
Here is another example of a parent who did understand the lesson
he was teaching his son.
“On the day before bass season opened, Tommy and his father were
fishing early in the evening on a
Northern Ontario lake
. Suddenly, Tommy’s rod almost bent in half
and he knew he had hooked something huge. By the time the fight was over
and he had reeled in the monster, both Tommy and his father discovered
that they were staring at the biggest bass they had ever seen. By now
darkness had engulfed the fishermen. Bass season officially opened in less
than three hours. Tommy’s father looked at him and said quietly,
"You’ll have to put it back, son."
protested, "I will never catch another fish this size."
they looked around, there were no other fishermen in sight. They were
completely alone, yet Tommy knew that his father’s decision was final
and he let the fish back into the water.
this day, Tommy still recalls that story whenever he is faced with a
question of ethics in his own life. The respect he gained for his father
that day has never died.
My own brothers will recall an incident many, many years ago when
our mother took us shopping for lumber supplies for my father. For
whatever reason we went to Wahnapitae Lumber and somehow were given an
extra box of nails that we weren’t charged for. My brothers and I
realized what had happened, but we didn’t tell our mother until we had
arrived at camp on
near Skead. We were all proud of the fact that
we had gotten something for free. My mother, however, made us come with
her as we drove all the way back to that lumber store to pay for the
nails. We will never forget that day and still talk about it from time to
long as our children see adults themselves acting disrespectful to others,
whether it is on television or in real life; as long as they see
disrespect for authority by adults; as long as adults show that they do
not respect themselves, we can not expect the level of respect in our
children to improve.
Just look at
television. Look at how adults behave at sporting events. Look at how
adults behave when they have had a couple of drinks. You better look,
because your children are looking.
Remember, respect is ‘caught’ not ‘taught’. What kind of
signals are you throwing to your children and grandchildren? Don’t ever
forget – they are watching everything you do.