We have a regular that sent in a topic near and dear to my heart — situational ethics. She wonders if parents are teaching their kids to break rules by breaking small rules themselves that they don’t think matter. Here is what she wrote:
“We began talking about children’s behavior. Often, educators will tell you that some children today are more disrespectful and have less manners, than 20 years ago. I asked them why they thought so. This mom is NOT a teacher. She mentioned that she sees co-workers, in their 30’s who are not apt to follow rules. She is baffled! They tell her, ” I am not going to do that…” She replies, “the boss asked you to do it and it is your job..” Their reply, ” well I am not going to do it.” So, we are wondering if this is trickling down to children not wanting to follow rules, as they observe this at home. Are people today less apt to follow rules and more apt to challenge them? Does this mean we are less respectful of others and more self centered? Are you a rule follower? When, if any time, is it o.k. to break the rules? Do you teach your children to follow all rules or question all rules? Whose rules would you or do you need to accept 100% Do your children see you balking at rules…how does this affect their attitude towards rules? What do you want your children to know about rules?
I think at this point most parents would say “Oh no, definitely not. I wouldn’t teach my kids to break rules.’
Well then the regular sent a follow-up note with some examples of broken rules:
“If you think the rules are trivial…do you just break them:
10 items or less in a grocery line
speed limit or stop signs
no pets allowed in hotels
pool rules…i,e, no one under age 14 without an adult over 18 ( this
one is often broken in our neighborhood).”
I think one parents break a lot without batting an eye is taking their kids out for vacations and then writing them a sick note when they get back.
So what do you think: A. Do kids misbehave more because their parents are modeling this? Is there a gap between behavior of younger generations of parents and older generations of parents — ie 20-somethings who started young and parents who started late in their 40s?
Do you break “little rules” around your kids? Do you break rules that you think don’t really matter or don’t affect anyone else? How many have you broken on the regular’s list? What about vacation lies? Do you think they pick up on it?