Award-winning author, L.R.Knost

The Trouble With Kids Today

[Portions reprinted from Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages by L.R.Knost available on Amazon]

“People are telling parents like me that we are failing our children because we practice controlled discipline in our homes. I say: the children that are raised without it are the ones being abused and robbed of the chance of success in adulthood.” Controlled discipline in the eyes of this author of I Don’t Like Spanking My Kids, But I Do It Anyway is physical punishment. Equating discipline with punishment is a common misconception, but she is, unfortunately, not alone in her stance.

Many of today’s most popular self-proclaimed parenting ‘experts’ also equate physical punishment with discipline and go to great lengths to describe the best methods and tools for hitting children along with instructing parents to maintain a calm, controlled, and even cheerful demeanor as they ‘lovingly’ hit their children.

It is interesting to note here that, when it comes to the law, crimes of passion are treated as less heinous than premeditated, planned, and purposefully executed crimes which are termed ‘in cold blood.’ And yet when physically punishing a child, a crime in many places across the globe, hitting in anger or frustration (i.e. passion) is deemed wrong by proponents of spanking, while hitting children with calm and deliberate intent (i.e. premeditation) is encouraged.

It is also interesting to note that, in the not-too-distant past, husbands hitting their wives was also viewed as not only a societal norm, but a necessary part of maintaining a harmonious, successful marriage. In fact, a man who epitomizes the words calm and controlled, Sean Connery, shared his thoughts on the ‘reasonable smacking’ of his wife in a 1987 interview with Barbara Walters:

The core belief behind ‘reasonable smacking’ of wives was that there was no other effective way to control them. I have to agree. If controlling another human being is the goal, then force is necessary. Fear, intimidation, threats, power-plays, physical pain, those are the means of control.

But if growing healthy humans is the goal, then building trust relationships, encouraging, guiding, leading, teaching, communicating, those are the tools for success.

Many parents simply don’t know what else to do. They were raised with spanking as a means of control and “turned out okay” so they default to their own parents’ parenting choices without researching alternatives to spanking or considering whether “okay” could be improved upon.

As to the I Don’t Like Spanking My Kids, But I Do It Anyway author’s contention that “We are raising a generation of children who are over-sensitive because they eventually find out that they aren’t as good at baseball or ballet as some other kid and their parents promised them that everyone is equal. They feel entitled because we teach them that they should. They throw tantrums when life doesn’t go their way because their parents have tiptoed around them to make sure that it does,” that reasoning sounds strangely familiar.

People throughout history have complained about ‘the trouble with kids these days.’ They’ve pinned all the ills of their society on permissive parenting. They’ve ranted about out-of-control children, disrespectful youth, entitlement, spoiling, disobedience, violence, self-centeredness, etc:

“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect to their elders…. They no longer  rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,  chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and are tyrants over their teachers.”
~Socrates, 5th Century BC

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions.
Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”
~Plato, 5th Century BC

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words… When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and
respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise [disrespectful] and impatient of restraint”
~Hesiod, 8th Century BC

“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.”
~Peter the Hermit, 13th Century AD

My grandpa notes the world’s worn cogs
And says we’re going to the dogs.
His grandpa in his house of logs
Said things were going to the dogs.
His grandpa in the Flemish bogs
Said things were going to the dogs.
His grandpa in his hairy togs
Said things were going to the dogs.
But this is what I wish to state:
The dogs have had an awful wait.
~Unknown, circa 1936

Small children disturb your sleep, big children your life.
~Yiddish Proverb

Perhaps, just perhaps, there isn’t any ‘trouble with kids today.’ Maybe the trouble is with societies who view normal stages of development as somehow abnormal. Maybe the problem is with parents who repeat the patterns their own parents set and don’t delve into the belief system they are now passing along to their children. Or maybe the problem is simply the rose-colored glasses older generations tend to have about their own youth when they share idealized versions of ‘the good old days.’

Could it be that ‘kid’s today’ are just kids like they have been through the ages, full of exuberance and curiosity and learning their way in a great big world? Could it be that a listening ear, gentle guidance, and trusted arms to turn to when inevitable mistakes are made are really all children need to grow up into kind, helpful, responsible, productive members of our society?

Consider this, “Since more than 90% of American parents admit to spanking their children, it’s hard to accept that a decline in spanking is responsible for the purportedly escalating rates of youth violence and crime. Could it be that the 90% of children who are subject to violence at home in the form of being slapped, paddled, smacked, yanked, whipped, popped, spanked, etc. are taking those lessons out into the world? Is it just possible that children who are hit learn to hit? That children who are hurt learn to hurt? Perhaps the lesson they are learning is that ‘might is right’ and violence is the answer to their problems, the outlet for their stress, the route to getting others to do what they want.” Better Children, Better World

Could it be that sowing peace in our homes is the answer after all?


Related posts:

12 Steps to Gentle Parenting

Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Spare the Rod: The Heart of the Matter

Jesus~The Gentle Parent

Tots to Teens~Communication Through the Ages and Stages

Testing the Boundaries~What’s A Parent To Do?

One Slippery Sock & Other Silly Tools for your Parenting Toolbox!

The Measure of Success~Chinese Parents and French Parents Can’t BOTH Be Superior!


Award-winnning author, L.R.Knost, is the founder and director of the children's rights advocacy and family consulting group, Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources, and Editor-in-Chief of Holistic Parenting Magazine. Books by L.R.Knost include Whispers Through Time: Communication Through the Ages and Stages of Childhood ; Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages ; The Gentle Parent: Positive, Practical, Effective Discipline ; and Jesus, the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting the first four books in the Little Hearts Handbook gentle parenting series, and children’s picture books Petey’s Listening Ears and the soon-to-be-released Grumpykins series.

27 Responses

  1. Kat Hamill

    This is great, I love it! Very well written, well done

    I keep meaning to post and say, I absolutely adore your blog. Every few days I come back and read a post to re align what my mindset is on a certain topic. You have a way with words that seems to have been written from my mind, something I have tried a few times to do but I can never seem too express it quite so well.

    June 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    • L.R. Knost

      Thank you, mama!

      June 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

  2. Jacquelyn

    Yes. Yes yes yes! GREAT post, you are such a good writer and your posts are always so encouraging to me. <3

    June 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    • L.R. Knost

      Thank you! 🙂

      June 4, 2012 at 12:23 pm

  3. Emma

    This is wonderful stuff 🙂

    June 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    • L.R. Knost

      Thanks, mama!

      June 4, 2012 at 12:24 pm

  4. Excellent…the only problem was that it was so good, I couldn’t figure out which quote to “snip” for posting. 😉

    June 4, 2012 at 1:06 pm

  5. Absolutely wonderful!!! What a great post! Sharing it on FB right now 🙂

    June 4, 2012 at 8:29 pm

  6. Esther

    Thank you for writing about this. Your blog is beautiful and an inspiration:)

    June 5, 2012 at 10:31 am

  7. Loved this. Shared it on my blog today. Thank you!

    June 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

  8. Thank you! I’ve been following the comments on that BlogHer post, and the argument is maddening. Not only have I seen countless reiterations of the “kids today” and (completely unfounded) claims that crime rates are going up because of our “passive” parenting, but it’s also frustrating that the proponents of spanking are only responding to people who are misquoting them rather than the people who have a valid counterpoint.

    Anyway, thanks for this, and I really do think the trouble with “kids today” (and every day throughout history) is that we’re forgetting that they’re, well, kids.

    June 5, 2012 at 9:06 pm

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  15. I love this post! Those older quotes are excellent! And man, that Connery interview makes me cringe. & laugh… one of our best action heroes and deep-down he’s frightened enough to hit women.

    People hit because they are afraid. Full-stop. No matter who they’re hitting. Hitting children is safe, because they’re smaller. We feel shame about it, so we invent words like “spanking” and “smacking” to downplay the horror.

    I’ve written tons about nonviolent and non-puniitve parenting. Sometimes I think “everyone” supports punishing and hitting kids. It’s always great to read someone who refutes those strategies.

    July 22, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    • L.R. Knost

      Thank you, mama! Always nice to hear from others who are trying to share more gentle and respectful parenting ideas. 🙂

      July 23, 2012 at 12:11 am

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