Out-of-control children need limits, discipline
As the parent of six children, four of whom are full-time college students on academic scholarship, I'd like to share a story regarding our growing failure to teach our children the proper respect for adults, educators and other authority figures in their communities.
I recently attended a basketball game at a local district park. At the conclusion of the game I asked a simple question of the scorekeeper, and a woman standing above me in the bleachers interjected with an answer. This woman was perfectly pleasant in her explanation and patiently answered a few questions I had about the local basketball association.
During our conversation the woman's teenage daughter stood very close to me and began interrupting as her mother spoke. The teen glared at me in hostility as I attempted to ignore her and listen to her mother. As our conversation ended, the young girl became aggressive toward me, closing the distance between us and nearly stepping on my foot as she leaned her body into mine. All while her mother stood by watching the exchange instead of correcting it.
I warned the woman to advise her child not to touch me, and after several warnings she finally interceded. At that point the child turned around, grabbed her mother and nearly flung her off the bleacher. As the mother struggled to regain her footing, the teen continued to behave aggressively until the coaches interceded and she retreated.
As a retired military officer who has traveled the world and lived in many amazing places, I have found our island home and many of our neighbors to be an absolute pleasure and a joy. Many Oahu residents are filled with a spirit of aloha, and are raising their children to be of high moral character and to be respectful of adults and of authority in general.
Yet, sadly, many of our neighbors are failing their children and their communities by becoming lax in their parental responsibilities. We have become poor role models and have allowed a flagrant attitude of disrespect to flourish in our homes, which, manifests as incidents like the one I described above when we take our angry, hostile children out in public.
The crux of it all is that this woman and her child apparently were acting in some official capacity on behalf of the basketball association. The conduct displayed by this child, and her mother's failure to correct or control it, is in no way a model of behavior that should be representative of any organization -- especially one that is run for the benefit of our children.
Although this is but one incident, the negative attitudes and conduct of our children is pervasive throughout our nation. While we expect teenagers to test their limits, we should never condone behavior that is hostile, aggressive or disrespectful toward any adult.
I believe this growing phenomenon of out-of-control children stems from a failure to set proper boundaries at home and must be publicly acknowledged, examined and ultimately corrected from a community standpoint. We all know it takes a village to raise a child. Yet, if we hope to raise children who are moral, productive members of their villages, then the villagers must become more vocal and more willing to discuss incidents like these so parents can be encouraged to take responsibility for their children. These children can then be taught, by all of us, to respect the boundaries of others.
Tracy Price-Thompson is a nationally published author, founder of a nonprofit organization and business owner who lives in central Oahu.