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Oh parents, where art thou?

 

By Ambra Nykol

 

Not too long ago, a few friends and I got into a very interesting conversation about the cultural implications of this gut-wrenching reality show called, "The Supernanny."

 

For the record, don't watch it. Once was enough for me. Let me spare you the coronary I nearly had when I saw a 6-year-old boy cuss at his mother. Say what? Nothing makes me want to hurl my television into the Pacific Ocean more than seeing family dysfunction on primetime. Is it just me, or are 21st century children growing ruder by the second?

 

"The Supernanny," (in short) chronicles the life of a family with hellion misbehaving children as they become subject to the advice of an experienced British disciplinarian nanny-type.

 

The show is not without the typical clever editing and musical underscore that tells you how to emote. By the end of the one-hour show, the parents are in awe of the results of fairly stand standard disciplinary principles employed by the "Supernanny," as if to say, "You mean when we discipline our children, it works?"

 

Why yes you fools. It does.

 

See I have this problem. I can't stand disrespectful children or the parents that raise them. When I'm in a store and I hear a non-mortgage-paying adolescent talk back rudely to their parent, I have to exit the premises. It makes me sick to my stomach.

 

Call me a traditionalist, but I think young people should respect their elders--especially the elders that pay the electric bill and stand in line at the crack of dawn to buy overpriced basketball shoes. You know, the sneakers (or tennis shoes depending on region) that kids kill for.

 

It seems the last 20 years have given birth to a new breed of ungrateful offspring that live life out of entitlement and lack proper appreciation.

 

 

      

       

        Children should respect their elders

 

When I was growing up, "What" was a bad word. When an adult called our names and we answered, "What?!" it was over. We were read our last rights and death soon followed. To this day, there are adults whose first names I still do not know because we always had to address them as "Mr." and "Mrs." And yet these days it's considered "cool" for kids to call their teachers "Bob" and "Chloe."

 

I don't care how progressive we get, I do not foresee a day when I would address my parents by their first names.

 

For someone who's never been a parent, I've never lacked an opinion on child-rearing. Take my thoughts with a grain of something if you must. As the days go by, I am more convinced that almost 95% of Black communities problems could be solved in the family.

 

I've said it before and I'll say it again. We don't have crime problems; we have family problems. Family dysfunction spills into the streets, and eventually we pay for it with our tax dollars and more painfully--our time.

 

Rarely do we make that glaring connection. Instead, we collectively throw our hands up in the air, wondering where our society went wrong.

To make matters worse, now we need television shows geared toward helping parents learn that they have to discipline their children.

 

I realize that children don't come with manuals, but come on. Seriously, some of these peoples' children should be confiscated. And I know what you're thinking: it's just entertainment. It's scripted. It's fake.

 

I agree to an extent that surely creative license is taken, but the children's behavior--that's all real. No matter how commercial the reality television scenario has become, something tells me there are desperate parents around the country tuning in each week with baited breath, pad and pencil in hand, taking copious notes whilst frustrating themselves in trying to employ the "naughty rug" method.

 

"The Supernanny" is not the issue. It's a symptom of a greater problem, and the fact that the show is even a hit speaks to the dry place the family must be in. There is a bigger picture here.

 

The family is the training ground for life. It was designed to prepare us to be productive and purposeful members of society. When children are not properly disciplined, I fear for their success in life.

 

      

 

Why?

 

Because society's chastisement hurts far worse than that of a mother or father.

 

Growing up, my parents used to "minister" to us via a wooden rod. In other words, we got our rear-ends spanked. Every last one of us. It hurt too. Spanking isn't really the issue. While I'm a huge corporal punishment proponent, it's not so much the method as it is the principle.

 

Discipline can look a number of different ways. Namely, when children are young, there has to be an association between sin and pain. Once that revelation is had, adulthood will be a much smoother process.

 

My fear however, is that when young people are not given the opportunity to associate their wrongdoing with severe consequences, they become destructive adults to both themselves as well as society.

 

Teaching children to properly address adults isn't so much about the title as it is acknowledging the authority that comes along with the title.

 

When children become too common with authority, they're less likely to respect it. Referring to adults as "Mr." and "Mrs." so and so prepares children for submitting to authority as an adult. This is something we all have to do.

 

The family is desperately in need of repair and children are suffering. It's shows like "The Supernanny" that remind me why better child-rearing could save us all a few tax dollars.

 

Ambra Nykol is a columnist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Soundpolitics.com, Seaspot magazine and Modestly Yours. She owns and blogs at nykola.com

 

Please e-mail comments to comments@thenewblackmagazine.com

 

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