I sold Grit newspapers when I nine years old. It was always a great day when I had sold my last Grit for the week. The profit was five cents per paper. Some weeks I made as much as two dollars! I lived in a very rural area so bicycling up and down the road and knocking on doors took time and was a workout. However, it was always a good feeling of accomplishment to sell all my Grits. I had other responsibilities as a kid, such as mowing a huge yard with a push mower or cutting the hillside with a manual mowing side blade. The list is longer but enough of that.
Too many of today's kids are missing that feeling of accomplishing something from work. Too much is handed to them. Many come in from school, lock themselves up in their rooms and station themselves in front of their hi-speed internet computers while texting, posting on Facebook or doing it all on their expensive cell phones. They come and go from the house in cars provided by mom and dad stopping to converse with them only when they need gas or spending money. Some of these same kids never show their report cards, often lie about their whereabouts and are verbally abusive with their parents when they are questioned about anything.
When asked to do dishes, make their beds, pick up trash or help mow the yard the moaning begins. Whose fault is all of this? It's our fault. We can only blame ourselves.
Parents have tried too hard to give their kids what they did not have. We have tried to make life easier for our kids than it was for us. We have tried to save our children from pain and comfort them with extra cash, gadgets and little to no responsibility. The result has been a generational disaster. Today we have kids who have enough time on their hands to sit and hate their classmates while plotting out how they might destroy them. All of this because their classmates didn't treat them like King Tut, or how mom and Dad treat them at home.
The recent 22-year-old California kid is a sad example. He was driving around in a BMW with a car full of expensive guns, cash and time to create hate movies and write insane diatribes about killing people. The tragedy is that he followed through. People were killed and a community is now devastated for the ages. The kid from California needed his butt kicked by his parents, his cash, BMW, and all the gadgets stripped away. We can't lavish the abundance of life on people who are acting like monsters. As parents we make them monsters by continuing to underwrite their smart-mouthed, rebellious and even evil behavior.
I understand he had severe mental issues. We live in a society of mental illness and it's growing. Why is it growing? That's another column. However, we don't like the stigma of mental illness but families must reach out for help. Importantly, we must be very active about implementing strong measures before disaster strikes. Dealing with such an illness requires more than a fifty minute counseling session once a week.
There are a lot of great hard working kids in America. In most cases the kids in America who grow up a little hungry end up on top. Not always, but in most cases. These are the Kids who have responsibility at home. They have to work some in the family unit. They are expected to earn some of their cash. They are expected to do well in school and know that someday they must leave the house and be on their own without the financial backing of mom and dad.
We don't want another Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech or Santa Barbara massacre and one of the ways to stop it is to change how we are raising our children.