Do you ever get the feeling that you are having to parent extra hard, teaching your children that American pop culture is not the expectation of how they act, behave, think and feel?
This week, we as a Nation have experienced one of the deadliest school shootings since 1999…when it all started with Columbine…the tipping point of the whole concept of massacring helpless children. The number of shootings in between these two bloodbaths varies depending on your source. One thing we can all manage to agree on is any number is too high, and the number we’ve had is chilling. Scarier yet is the fact that they continue.
Scarier, yet not surprising. When I grew up back in the good old 80’s and 90’s, my parents didn’t have to worry about me turning on the news and seeing a cell-phone video taken from a terrified high school student while active AR-15 gun-fire is echoing on the screen. I was watching Family Matters and Full House on TGIF. When I grew up, my parents didn’t have to monitor my video games, because the only ones I had were Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, Paperboy and Sonic. There’s quite a vast difference between those games and today’s VR assault games.
My own personal disappointment with American Pop Culture has resulted in me finding hobbies that are a lot more fulfilling to me than watching TV, movies & video games. Given the choice of watching The Bachelor or going for a run, I’ll choose the latter Every. Single. Time. Sorry Bachelor fans, but I think I have a healthier mind and body because of this. And I’m hoping my children will have healthier minds and bodies as a result of this as well. The struggle is real, though, with educating our kids. A few weeks ago, I heard my 3-year-old daughter use the word “kill,” and I immediately felt like a failure. Where did she hear that from?! I mentally ticked off all of the things I’d done right and wrong while mothering this sweet child. Nope, I definitely didn’t use that word. I made a mental note that we needed to go to church sooner than later and tried to push the worry aside. My husband and I spoke with her about why “kill” was not a nice word to use. Later that night, we were watching Disney’s The Lion King. We watched Scar plot to kill his brother, King Mufasa, and blame Mufasa’s innocent young son Simba in the process. Over my daughter’s head, my husband and I locked eyes with our jaws dropped low. Aha! That’s where she heard it.
I can’t help but wonder, what’s happening to the kids in houses without parents who dislike turning on the TV? Who play ALL the video games? Who watch ALL the movies? Most kids probably develop an accurate sense of fantasy versus reality. Let’s assume 99% of our kids adjust without a problem. But the other 1%? The 1% who struggle more than other adolescents with emotional development and maturation? The 1% who suffer from mental illness? The 1% who might not feel loved and secure at home or school? These kids didn’t grow up on Mario Brothers and TGIF. And worse yet, they can Google how to get an AR-15 in 2 seconds…and then go buy one…during a time in life when they are experiencing volatility with their emotional development.
Recent media articles have compared the number of US mass shootings to those of other countries with lower statistics. One of the differences between the US and these other countries is our individualistic culture. Over time, the overriding mindset of your typical American has developed into looking out for #1. Me-centric. If you’ve ever traveled to Asian countries, you know that the cultures there contrast with the US. Asian culture is heavily influenced by religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism, and tend to be collectivistic in nature. People are raised and expected to behave in ways that benefit the community, and do not harm the community. Individuals sacrifice personal needs based on the needs of others. Gun laws are not the ONLY difference between our countries. We’d be remiss to think that is the case.
Don’t get me wrong, gun laws are a major issue that I believe need to be addressed. My job revolves around developing and following workplace policies. I understand all too well how important rules and consequences are when it comes to leading large groups of people. We as a society would love to believe that everyone can agree on “right” and “wrong” and live accordingly without incident. Unfortunately, it is not so easy. Urgent changes are most certainly needed. We need to drive those changes and stop asking others to drive them. I don’t think it will be as easy as voting people in or out of office.
Americans want results to change without compromising with one another on action steps to get to the different results. Guess what, folks? Everyone is NOT going to agree on the action steps. But we ALL agree that the current results are unacceptable. Unless changes are actually made in this country, we will continue to suffer the same consequences we are faced with today. This isn’t an easy issue and the changes won’t be easy either. Are we willing to sacrifice for the greater good? While my fellow Americans ponder that question, I’ll be over here hugging my children.
Parenting is tough! None of us has all of the right answers on topics as challenging as these. How are you handling these tough topics with your children and in your communities? What’s working well for you and your family?
**My blog disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an expert in any one topic. I am simply sharing my thoughts and opinions that are mine and not anyone else’s. Feel free to agree or disagree accordingly! Thanks for reading