|The Good Old Days
By Larry Eyre, IW Superintendent
It is probably just one of the many signs that I am getting old, but I worry about the affluence of American culture. My wife and I were looking at new TV’s the other day – we only have four TV’s in a house with two people! But as we looked at all of the new technology it reminded me of growing up in a house with five people and one TV. Is it possible that in today’s culture we suffer from having too much? What is the impact of all of this affluence on our children?
I remember that my sisters and I argued frequently about what programs we would watch (even though we only got three channels). I am certain that all of that arguing added a lot of grey hair to the heads of my parents, but it also taught us kids how to resolve problems fairly. We were forced to respect the rights of the other members of the family, and learned to value their feelings and opinions.
When I hear of children having their own TV’s, telephones, iPods, etc. and see them going off by themselves, I wonder if we are too quick to purchase things as an easy way of avoiding arguments. When and how do today’s children learn to value the rights and opinions of others? How do they learn to resolve differences? Has this contributed to the problem that some sociologists refer to as the “me first generation?”
I see this too at the dinner table. It seems to me that many families today have “deli meals” – i.e. everyone may be eating at the same time, but each may have a different meal. My mother worked part time, but was still the primary caregiver and homemaker for our family. Like most mothers, she fixed supper for the family every evening. It was a single meal, which we could choose to eat or not eat - but she only fixed one meal! Again, we learned to value the rights and opinions of others on those evenings when the meal was chosen to please a sibling, my Dad, or the budget.
I realize that in most homes today there are usually two working parents, or in many cases, a single parent who also works a full-time job. Microwaves are more than a convenience; they are a necessity. I worry though, that in this age when so many products can be fixed so quickly and easily, too many children get to choose what they will eat nearly every meal. There were lessons to be learned when we sat down to a meal that we may not have preferred to eat. We may not have liked the meal that my mother fixed that evening, but we learned to cope with it.
I am not opposed to technology, and I understand that in single parent households and homes where both parents work, we need to take advantage of these new innovations. My point is simply this: children need some adversity in their lives to help them prepare for adulthood. The lessons that we learned in “the good ole days” do not necessarily need to be learned at the dinner table or in the living room – but they still need to be learned.