Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Some Call It Affluenza But I Call It Bad Parenting

Are you aware of the recent news coverage revolving around the so-called disease the media calls “affluenza”? Seriously? Has society fallen so far to try to excuse away the fact that A) this young man is a spoiled brat and B) he is such because his parents have made him that way?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is in a nutshell: A wealthy Texas teenager was given a slap on the wrist and probation for killing four people and injuring several more in 2013 when he caused a horrific traffic accident while driving drunk. Oh, and he was only sixteen at the time of the accident. Now, a little more than two years later, his mother (I use that term loosely) skips the country with him because it was discovered he was violating the terms of his probation by drinking and getting drunk (go figure!)—which was grounds for his arrest.

Mother and son were found in Mexico, arrested, and as I write, mom, Tanya is being sent back to Texas to face criminal charges and prison time. Son Ethan, however is still being held by authorities in Mexico, where before being arrested, racked up a huge tab at a bar/strip club, was escorted out for drunkenness and non-payment, and then he and his mom skipped out of their hotel without paying.
It’s not my habit to be calling names (especially children) but I’m going to make an exception here because someone needs to call it what it is instead of trying to excuse it away. Selfish. Spoiled. Entitled. Thoughtless. Disrespectful…and just about anything else along those lines applies to both mother and son. But sad, lost, hopeless, pitiful, tragic, and precious lives being wasted away also apply. These two have the potential to be so much better if they only would be.

Now before you write me off as being overly critical hear me out. I want you to look at these two and learn from them because they have MUCH to teach every single parent out there.

Lesson 1: Children really do live what they learn. Ethan is a product of his upbringing. He was raised to believe he didn’t have to comply with the law, that rules didn’t apply to him and that they are meant to be broken, and that responsibility is something he doesn’t need to concern himself with. Ethan has been raised to think only of himself and to do whatever he wants without regard to the rights and well-being of anyone else because he’s rich and money talks.

What are your children learning from the way you live? Are they learning integrity, responsibility, respect, compassion, selflessness, confidence, humility, and love? Or are they learning to resemble Ethan in even the smallest of ways?

Lesson 2: Ethan has a brain and is old enough to know right from wrong, but chooses wrong. You know as well as I do teenagers don’t blindly obey their parents without question. Ethan is choosing to make poor choices because he wants to.

Parents, if you are doing the very best you can to be the very best parent you can, don’t beat yourself up and allow guilt to swallow you whole if your child chooses to rebel and reject the principles of his/her upbringing. There comes a time when children have to be held responsible and accountable for their own actions.

Lesson 3: Parenting mistakes don’t have to be permanent and it’s not too late to change. Evidence and witnesses prove beyond a doubt that Ethan was raised in an atmosphere where discipline, respect, expectations, guidelines, and true parental love were non-existent. But after Ethan killed and injured those innocent people, his parents had every opportunity and resource available to turn things around and to help Ethan turn his life around. But instead of embracing their opportunity AND responsibility to do so, they turned their back on their son and encouraged him to keep on keepin’ on.

Parents, we all make mistakes raising our kids. A harsh word or two (or three…), unjust and misplaced anger and frustration, missing cues, hurting their feelings. We’re not perfect. When these things happen we have the capability to ask forgiveness, repeal the disciplinary action, speak softly, and apologize for being wrong. My question to you, though, is do you? If so, keep up the great work. If not, why not? And either way, make today the day you commit to not letting these occasional mistakes become the norm.

I know this post isn’t the usual witty wisdom Momma D usually shares, but there are times when witty wisdom needs to be set aside for what my kids and I call a “come to Jesus talk”. Today was one of those days.


Momma D

                           Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.