A hypocrite, as we all know, is a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. A hypocrite is also a teenager, no other definition required. And I say this for a very specific reason.
I love my kids. Truly, I do. But I’m being honest when I say that as my children have slid into the teenager/young adult phase of their lives, I think I understand why some animals eat their young. Because, damn. Damn. Damn. Damn.
It’s like, no matter what we do as parents to teach our children the proper rules of engagement for life, they just can’t seem to put that into practice under their own roof, on a consistent basis, with their own family. More specifically, their own parents. Almost like it’s physically impossible for them to restrain themselves from saying whatever they’re thinking, regardless of how absurd or nasty or insincere.
For the most part, our kids have the unique ability to behave appropriately when they’re in public or with a teacher or another adult who isn’t us. But get them home and behind closed doors and that sensor that goes off in their head when they’re out in the general population just goes into sleep mode. And that’s exactly when everything they shouldn’t say to someone gets said. To us.
Now I know our kids—more specifically our teens—do love us somewhere down deep. I also know that they don’t have a fully functioning brain filtration system until they’re much older. But if they have even the slightest capacity to censure what they say and do when they’re out from under our roof (which most of them do), then they damn well owe us the courtesy of exercising a teensy bit of self-control when they’re with us.
Like I could never, ever imagine saying or doing anything to my mother that would cut her down or criticize her or make her upset. At least not on purpose anyway. Just the thought of behaving like that makes me lightheaded. But from what I’m hearing from all my other mom and dad friends, and what I often see under my own roof, today’s kids are firing off bitchy, obnoxious rounds without even taking aim. It’s just like a hail of verbal bullets and we’re dead center in the crosshairs.
The sad fact is that we live in a different world now then our world growing up. A world where a lot of kids are desensitized to things like manners and respect even in spite of our best efforts to pound it into their heads.
I mean, is it really necessary for my kids to judge me every time they see me taking a selfie (which they literally spend half their life doing)? Or watching a mindless video on my phone? Even if, occasionally, some of those videos happen to be clips of adorable beagle puppies standing on their hind legs playing the piano and howling whenever they hit the keys. No. My kids watch eeeeendless videos of YouTubers doing eyeliner. (Cause that’s relevant.) And I don’t say boo. They take what seems like hundreds of daily Snapchat pics of the very top of their head in an effort to “communicate” with their friends, but when I try to take a single, meaningful photograph of something, I get ragged on like I just farted in front of a dignitary at a state dinner.
Honestly, I just don’t get how our generation of kids has become such judgy little snots to the very same people who kept them alive for the first part of their life. The very people who feed and clothe them. Who give them spending money and drive their little asses everywhere. And unconditionally listen to all their hopeless friend drama. And cut the $#^!@&% crust off their bread. It boggles my mind.
How can they so effortlessly bite the fingers off that hand that feeds them without any regard for how much that hurts?
I suppose it’s probably because today’s kids are living in a world where they’ve got technology wedged between them and the rest of the humanity and that’s had a profound affect on how they interact with the people around them. Especially us. So I guess it’s no wonder they’ve lost a lot of their social skills because who needs social skills when you’re behind a screen most of the time? Amirite?
Not that I was a perfect kid, because God knows I wasn’t. But I just don’t remember being a constant hypocritical dink to my mother, and neither does she. Oh, she remembers me occasionally sassing her or breaking some rules every once in a while, but she did confirm that I never just said stuff to be a jerk. And that’s what so many of today’s kids are doing almost unconsciously. Which I suppose isn’t really their fault when we consider that it’s such a social norm to interact through screens and not face-to-face where people can actually gauge a person’s body language and reaction. And that’s a little depressing because there’s not a lot we can do about it except to ride the wave and stay under the radar until their frontal lobe catches up. That, and holding them accountable for crappy behavior.
So sadly, I don’t have the answer to my original question of When will our teenagers stop being a**holes? But what I do know is that, eventually, one way or another, they’ll snap out of it and start feeling things like remorse and regret and maybe a little shame for being such punks. And if it doesn’t happen organically, it’ll happen when they’ve got hypocritical little jackasses of their own. And that’ll be a fun day.
Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at lisasugarman.com. Or, find them on LittleThings.com, GrownandFlown.com, BeingAMom.life, Hot Moms Club, More Content Now, and Care.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is and Untying Parent Anxiety: 18 Myths That Have You in Knots—And How to Get Free available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at select bookstores.