Kids In The News

By: Patti Bankson

Forever ago when I was a kid, going to the movies was a real value. Before the feature, we had cartoons, assorted “short subjects”, and the news, one segment of which was called, “Kids in the News”. They featured kids who’d excelled academically, had done something kind, helpful or heroic, or made an important discovery with the potential to change people’s lives.

There are still “Kids in the News”… “kids” like college students who think their major is drinking, and their minor is a study in how to do their best work in their major. Some students never finish the course work because they drink too much and die, either from alcohol poisoning or from taking a multi-floor tumble from the balcony rail they were using as a tight rope. Others spent so much time on their majors and minors they ended up dropping out or being put out because their brains had turned to mash.. uh, I mean mush. Or, we have a 16-year old “kid”; ex-Goth turned Satanist, turned credit card thief, turned marijuana grower, who moved on to where he is now… in jail for committing a vicious, ritualistic-style murder. Then we have another teenager, turned killer… for the best of reasons (I say, my voice dripping with sarcasm!) he killed his 14-year-old girlfriend’s parents rather than face the consequences of their decision to stay out all night. A far cry from the original “Kids In The News”, I’d say.

I see the genesis of those stories in parents who survived the backbreaking depression era, who wanted their children to have a better life than they had. Unfortunately, whenever someone comes up with a “nothing wrong with that” Idea, the result goes far beyond the original intent. Out of this original intent came a whole new sub-culture: teenagers. An innocuous, born-out-of-love concept has morphed into something unrecognizable. It seems the LA LA LAND called the teen years has produced vast unintended consequences, like the stories above, which make it obvious that we need to build a very different bridge from childhood to adulthood.

This isn’t just about “kids” becoming criminals. It’s also about 20, 30 and 40-somethings moving back home into rooms redecorated just for their “homecoming”, that only get cleaned if mom does it. If “the kid” eats, it’s food provided and prepared by the parents. With no rent to pay, they can afford a more expensive car and more of a social life. They’re no longer “children”, so, no rules – come and go as you please, do whatever you want, with whomever.

What a sweet life! No wonder “kids” stay past the initial “just-until-I’m-back-on-my-feet” time. And when the parents think their welcome mat has been completely abused and worn out, it’s no wonder they’re not sure what to do. The Way I See It, this decision has the potential to be unpredictable and scary: “Get rid of the kids” and if all goes well, you get your home and your life back. Or, get rid of the kids and face the possibility that the kids move out, but come back later to “get rid of you!” Yoweeee!
Some say that parenting isn’t for wimps. Boy, howdy! They “ain’t” just whistling Dixie!!

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© Patti Bankson 2005

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