HICKS: Five character traits that should be trendy

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It’s that time again — time to predict trends for the new year. Prognosticators from every sector are saturating cyberspace with predictions in virtually every arena, including politics and economics, climate, technology, education, recreation and fashion.

But my favorite trends to watch are in an arena that probably shouldn’t be trendy at all: parenting.

For 2012, the mommy blogosphere offers a host of probable developments among the hippest of the so-called “breeders” (calling parents “breeders” is a trend that hip parents don’t like, by the way.) For example, in the new year, it’s cool to raise “eco kids” — children of the “green” generation who will grow up with an innate understanding of sustainability.

Among baby-boomer parents, the trend is to worry — first, about whether they’re attentive enough to their children, then about whether their obsessive attention to their children is causing their kids to be anxious.

For older parents, the trend will be to refill the nest with college grads who can’t find jobs. No one ever said all trends were good.

Another trend among older parents will be to worry about becoming a burden to their kids. (Oddly, I can’t find evidence of a trend where children worry about burdening their folks. Must be a generational thing.)

Of course, parenting trends aren’t new. Breast versus bottle feeding, spanking versus time out, day care versus home care, family bed versus “go back to your room” — all reflect the fads and fashions of “best practices” in parenting.

Still, my gut tells me the essential job of parenting should not be subject to cultural whim. Unfortunately, that essential job — to instill the values and virtues that mold personal character — seems to have gone the way of the dodo.

Concern for children’s self-esteem and a weird preoccupation with their materialistic and media-driven desires has spawned a culture in which developing children’s excellent character seems low on the list of parental priorities.

We need only look at surveys of teen ethics to see the results: There’s widespread and entrenched unethical and immoral behavior on the part of American youths that includes lying, cheating, stealing and bullying. This lack of morality and personal character in our children’s generation isn’t only ravaging their hearts and souls; it’s tearing our nation down.

It’s time to buck the trend toward trendy parenting and focus instead on the values that will rescue our children and the country they will inherit. How? By directing attention on the five traits that will restore America, one great kid at a time.

• Respect — Let’s ditch the notion that kids need to act disrespectfully and talk back to adults as part of the process of “individuation.” Instead, here’s a radical fad: Speaking and behaving respectfully toward others is the sign you’re growing up.

• Obedience — The parenting trend that encouraged moms and dads to seek cooperation from kids rather than expect obedience from them has led to a serious lack of parental authority. Kids who don’t learn to obey their parents don’t obey teachers, coaches, baby sitters, or dare I say, the law.

• Accountability — We’ve somehow disassociated behavior with personal character, so that kids don’t believe their “choices” mean anything about them. Time to reconnect these ideas and instead teach children that their actions speak for the character of their hearts.

• Moderation — Our children’s generation is media-saturated and increasingly physically unfit. It’s time to reverse the trend among kids that now has them spending close to eight hours a day engaged with media. Moms and dads, end the overprotective parenting fad and send those kids outside to play.

• Ambition — Our cultural fixation on equality of outcomes for all children has sapped the natural ambition to be the best. Our children’s generation must be freed to excel. Only the desire for excellence — in character as well as personal pursuits — will rekindle our American spirit.

Marybeth Hicks is the author of “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” Find her on the web at http://mary bethhicks.com.

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