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What Are We Teaching Our Children?

I take the bus to work these days, not because we can’t afford gas, but because my employer pays for my bus pass, and it gives me more time to read. Seriously, that’s why I started taking the bus: so I could read more.

I take two buses to get to work: one that picks me up near my house, and the other I pick up at the Transit Mall that takes me to work (or near work). My favorite bus driver is now driving the first bus I pick up in the morning. He’s nice and he has the cutest dimples. I can look, right? I might be married, but I’m not blind!

Last week, the driver pulled to a stop and walked to the back of the bus. He told the kids in no uncertain terms that foul language was not tolerated on his bus, and if they continued to use that language, he would drop them off at the nearest bus stop.

So this morning, the driver pulls over at a bus stop, despite the fact that the stop wasn’t requested and there’s no one waiting at that stop. He turns around and points at one of the kids and says, “YOU. Yeah, you. This is your stop. You’re using bad language and I TOLD you that’s not tolerated on my bus. So I figured you wanted to get off.”

After some grumbling, all the kids get off, and while they’re exiting, one of them says, “Dirty ass n!gger.”

The bus driver just says Yeah yeah whatever and dismisses their comments.

But me, I can’t believe that in 2008 in a tolerant town, I just heard the “N” word come out of some kids mouth. And my first thought? What the hell are the parents teaching this child?

I know the parents mayΒ  have taught cute little Johnny not to use racial epithets. But it’s hard for me to believe that’s the case when he dresses like a little gangsta. And, AND, these same kids happened to make it to the second bus that I grab to go to work, and they happened to have to stand near where I was sitting, and what were they talking about? How drunk they were that weekend. So I’m sure parental involvement is minimal at best. (I should mention here that when they got on the second bus, I’d decided that if I heard them saying bad or mean things about the bus driver that kicked them off, I would speak up and tell them what I thought of their use of the “N” word, but they didn’t.)

I know I don’t have kids. And I know it’s a lot different when I talk about what I willΒ  do with my kids. But you can bet that we’ll have plenty of conversations about racial epithets, and you can bet that I will do my darndest to raise upstanding citizens. I’m not saying raising kids is easy and if you just set your mind to it your kid will be molded into exactly what you want. But have these parents TRIED?

All I can hope is that one day that kid will look back and be embarassed and ashamed. That’s my only hope.

| Tags: , , , , 28 comments »

28 Responses to “What Are We Teaching Our Children?”

  1. S. Krishna

    Man, that’s awful. I completely agree with you – I don’t have kids, but if my parents ever caught me behaving like that, they would NOT be happy, to say the least. Maybe it does have something to do with how involved the parents are.

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  2. Lezlie

    I’m glad I have no children. I can’t even imagine what it must be like trying to bring them up with any sense of responsibility, tolerance, and respect, being that so many parents I see seem to lack those very things. I know there are great parents out there and I have *tons* of respect for them!

    I think you’ll be one of the good ones, Trish. πŸ™‚

    Lezlie

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  3. Ti

    Kids do stupid things when they are together. It’s as if all common sense goes right out the window. I don’t know how those kids have been raised and you could be right about their parents not being around.. or they could be around and talking to them but when they gather in groups they follow the flock.

    I’ve never witnessed my kids acting in that manner and if I ever did, you bet there would be hell to pay but I have seen my 10 year old act completely stupid for the sake of being cool, so now I am also focusing on self esteem issues and making sure that he feels confident enough to be the minority when it comes to comments like this.

    I praise the bus driver for doing what he did. He deserves kudos.

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  4. Veens

    Seriously disgusting! I really can’t believe, the kids said that to the bus-driver! I really do wish, someone teaches them a lesson!

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  5. Valerie

    I’m sorry to hear that these kids were so nasty. Parental involvement (or lack thereof) definitely is a factor, in my opinion. How did these kids learn to use these bad words and insults in the first place? How did they end up hanging out with other kids that are a bad influence? Sad.

    That bus driver seems like a cool guy, hope it didn’t get him down too much.

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  6. Rebecca

    Oh, that is maddening and disgusting and just really very sad. I think it all comes down to teaching our children (or, in my case, hypothetical children) about respect. Respect for themselves, respect for each other, and respect for a dark and tragic history that makes words like the N word painful and unacceptable. I also wonder where the parents are in these scenarios (I have the pleasure of seeing children behave awfully on a semi-regular basis at work) and have to ask myself where we as a society have gone wrong. It’s so upsetting.

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  7. Amy

    Like Lezlie, the idea of raising kids is terrifying. πŸ™‚ Too much work!

    On another note, I can’t read on a bus. I would be getting very sick, probably causing someone to use foul language on me.

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  8. Alea

    I take the bus and enjoying reading the whole way too! I also have to take two buses. A few weeks ago a group of kids were told they should get off here because they were swearing loudly and they did, no problems. I’ve never seen anything like what you are describing! πŸ™

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  9. yasmin

    This is so sad…but unfortunately hatred is taught and learned at homes…I can only imagine what these kids have hear their parents say..s.igh.

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  10. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    That is a sad testament to the times we live in. i often wondered if the civil rights movement had any impact at all on society. Yes, laws were passed and rights were doled out, but it seems like the same intolerances that were once there are still HERE! I’m disturbed by the behaviors of our young people, and I too do not have kids, but it seems like parents are neglecting their children in more than one way.

    And for the record, just because you are married, does not mean you are now blind! πŸ™‚

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  11. Debbie

    I’m glad you posted this and are keeping it on our minds. I think we assume this type of attitude and treatment of others has gone away – but that is far from true. Thank you for reminding us.

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  12. Corinne

    I took the bus to college for the exact same reasons as you. Raising kids IS challenging, but to me – if I have raised a respectful, kind individual – that would be the greatest reward of my efforts πŸ™‚

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  13. smoothpebble

    If I ever found out or caught my kids behaving like that, they would be grounded for quite some time. I’m always shocked when we are at ball games (family environment type events with little kids, parents, grandparents) and a group of kids will be dropping the f-bomb right and left. And I usually take it upon myself to walk up to them and gently remind them (i don’t want them pulling a knife on me or anything) that they need to watch their language. Their parents probably aren’t modeling the best behavior, but maybe if they hear it from other adults they will “get it” at some point.

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  14. Bonnie

    This is really sad…I’m glad that you wrote about this. I think that there are so many issues in our society that effect kids. It could be that there is a lack of parental involvement or peer influence to be one of the crowd. It’s sad that these kids were so disrespectful to the bus driver, what disgusting language.
    I was at a school/community event over the weekend for elementary children. My friend and I were shocked when we saw two kids(boy and a girl), middle school aged, all over each other kissing, sitting on each other and groping. This was in public with one of their parents nearby. My friend commented how disgusting it was, she was a volunteer at the event and told them to stop! It took awhile but they did stop. The parent did nothing! There were elementary kids nearby as well as younger siblings. It was unbelieveable to us that their parents allowed this!

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  15. bexadler

    I’d have felt the same way you did. I think most kids today are raised by television though. If they were dressed like gangsta’s they probably got that language from too many music videos. Unbelievable though.

    P.S. I’ve always taken public transport when possible so I can read more too. Hahaha πŸ™‚

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  16. Ladytink_534 (Jen)

    “All I can hope is that one day that kid will look back and be embarassed and ashamed. That’s my only hope.”

    ^ You can hope but don’t hold your breath. Alot of teenagers today (like the ones I went to school with) even talk to their own parents that way.

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  17. Becky

    I had no idea people still used the N-word. It’s funny, I’d rather my kids say “Fuck” than the N-word.

    What asshole punks.

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  18. lisamm

    I think there’s a certain amount of bravado when kids (boys, I guess) talk together- the talk about being drunk could be total fabrication. They might just be showing off to each other. Many kids are braver and bolder in a group than they’d ever be by themselves or with their families. Even the clothes- they could have left their homes in the morning looking perfectly normal and “gangsta’d up” after arriving at school or getting with their friends. I know I used to slather on makeup in the school bathroom in 7th grade even though I wasn’t allowed to wear it officially until high school.

    I haven’t had any conversations with my kids about racial epithets. Our school and neighborhood is very racially diverse and my kids don’t even think twice about it. They have friends in every color of the rainbow, although I know that there are some persistent stereotypes of certain groups that they totally believe (i.e. that the Asian kids are smarter, etc.) I’ve also been around during the upper grade recess at their elementary school and have heard kids (6th grade boys, mostly) saying “you suck” and “asshole” and “dick” and the f-word. My daughters say the bad language is really common on the playground. Even if a kid doesn’t hear that at home, they hear it from other kids.

    But I think kids do learn what they live, and if they are raised in an environment of racism at home, they are going to repeat those attitudes out in the world. If they are raised to stand up for themselves and others, to respect themselves and others, etc., those attitudes carry over as well.

    Don’t be afraid to be a parent! It’s scary but wonderful, too.

    [Reply]

  19. The Social Frog

    I am always amazed at the crap that comes out of kids mouths these days, sometimes I am numb to it though.

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  20. Kim L

    Yikes! I remember the crap that kids used to say all the time in high school. I was so used to hearing it back then I hardly flinched. But now it really bugs me if people are swearing up a storm. And to use a racial slur is just ridiculous. You’re right to wonder about the parents. I know sometimes kids do what they want despite their parents, I think most parents hope to raise kids with higher standards than that.

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  21. ammo

    I have raised six kids (the last one off to college this year) and if I found out any of them used language like that -Well lets just say time out would be a blessing to them. I think the majority of Parents today want to be their kids friends instead of taking the hard road and being their kids Parents. Believe it or not kids want/NEED lines in the sand drawn for them – Wake up Parents – WE are not their friends – STAND Strong and STAND up for your kids. If you love them enough you will do what is good for them even if they hate you for it now.
    My kids did say “You are soooo MEAN!!” and my reply would be “Then I am doing my job”. When they would say “I can not wait to leave here!” My reply would be “I will miss you so much” and when they would say “I hate you” (under their breath πŸ™‚ My reply would be “I love you” (loudly) and NOW they say “Mom I love you and Thanks for being so firm.” My reply is ” Those words make it all worth while and I loved you too ” – REALLY!

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  22. bybee

    My son picked up that n-word briefly — to be cool, he thought — and I was horrified. I told him that he should stop saying it because it sounded like he didn’t have any sense, it was hurtful to others, and if he got in the habit of saying it, he might slip up and use it the wrong way and get his ass kicked or worse. I don’t know if I made an impact, but it faded from his vocab and is long gone now.

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  23. Jen Forbus

    After having taught at the high school level, I know exactly what you’re talking about Trish and it just plain disgusts me. The SAD fact of the matter is that many of these kids hear their said parents saying the exact same thing!!

    My parents taught me to respect other people and their feelings…despite what group of people I was around. If parents are active in their kids’ lives, setting rules and boundaries, not accepting inappropriate behavior under any circumstances, knowing who their kids are hanging around with, etc., the manners are going to be much, much better. Being a parent requires a tremendous amount of involvement – too many parents aren’t involved in the RIGHT way. I can’t stand hearing a parent say, “we’re more like best friends than parent/child.” That’s where the problems start!! YOUR CHILD DOESN’T NEED ANOTHER FRIEND – YOUR CHILD NEEDS A PARENT AND RULES AND BOUNDARIES!!

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  24. mellymel

    Unfortunately, you can teach children until you are blue in the face but sometimes they need to experience natural consequences before they learn anything.
    The other problem I see is parents overestimate their children – they see them as little angels. (Esp younger ones) Um, they aren’t. Mine included.
    I shudder to think about the many decisions that lie ahead for my kids and I know I won’t always be there. Hopefully some of what we’ve said sticks.

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  25. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    It’s not that hard to keep your child from becoming a bully, a racist or a jerk, if you care to lead by example . . . at least, that’s been my experience. I’ve had people stop me — literally, pull on my arm and stop me in mid-stride — to thank me for raising well-mannered boys, simply because they hold doors open for people and say “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me”. It’s pretty sad that those words have become such rare and wonderful things.

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  26. Elizabeth

    Oh cringe. Honestly, if that kids keeps spouting off like that he’ll be lucky to avoid the hospital. I live in a fairly large city in the south, so hearing things like that… sadly… happens more often than it should. But wow, it always makes me cringe.

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  27. Steph

    I see stupid kids all the time. I think there’s a number of things that factor into this though. It’s sometimes parents, but it’s also the media and sometimes, sorry to say it’s just the kids themselves. Some kids are just brats.
    Kids who say things like that though, and who act like that… I really really don’t think it’s possible to point the finger at the parents. They just can’t be there to watch their kids 24/7 and no matter what they tell them, it still won’t do much if the kid continues to see crap on tv and in movies etc.
    I don’t know… I’m not sure where to point the finger, I don’t like to point it at movies and tv because I was a kid (sometimes people still see me as a kid even though I’m 20!) and I’ve seen my share of stupidity on television and heard my share of foul language and intolerance, but I don’t mimic, I don’t copy what I see and hear.
    geezzz I don’t know! Now I’m confusing myself! I wish we could know how young people become so depth-less.
    Intolerance and racism should be spoken about at home, I think it’s way more important than anything else. But the thing is… though we see ourselves (in north america) as tolerant in general, we just aren’t completely there yet. We’ve come a long way! But not there yet. Some parents still are intolerant and they reflect those values and ideas onto their children. But… for example, a friend of mine’s mother tends to say racists/intolerant things. And yet, my friend has not taken on her ideologies whatsoever.
    In conclusion: those kids should get their asses kicked, by me.

    okay. time for me to shut up and study!
    haha

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