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  • Kathryn Patterson

Responsibility in Society

As with drinking and driving, our society in general has drifted from individual responsibility to passing the buck of responsibility to whoever is least able to defend themselves against the accusations.  And by "least able to defend themselves" I mean poor people, immigrants, and anyone else who the legal system treats unfairly. The trend starts in childhood. Children are not held responsible for their own behaviors.  When a child earns a bad grade in school, parents ask the teacher why she gave their child a bad grade.  When a child performs poorly in a sporting event, the parents' blaming encompasses the other teammates, the other parents, and the coaches, but not once do they even consider that maybe their little ray of sunshine just needs more practice. On the flip side, a good grade or good behavior report from a child causes the parents to claim credit for "doing a good job".  Either way, the child never gets credit (or censor) for grades or behavior. As a child grows up, the parents remove more and more responsibility from a child and assume it themselves.  Parents watch over homework, pre-grading papers to find and fix any errors.  Teenagers have no real privacy, as their parents track them through GPS on cell phones and stalking the kids' social media.  These trends continue through college, with professors getting phone calls about "failing"  poor students.  I even read an article about parents submitting resumes and attending job interviews with their children! When will this generation ever learn to be responsible for themselves? The young adult generation shows the damages of this type of child-rearing.  I hear people complain about cops who give them tickets (driving 15 mph over the speed limit notwithstanding).  It's the boss' fault if someone gets fired - not the fact that the person spent 4-5 hours a day texting and perusing social media.  (Note:  If you have to hide your cell phone from either coworkers or your boss when they want to see you, you might be messaging or using FB too much.) While no one wants to admit to a mistake, no one is perfect.  Therefore, everyone makes a mistake.  But instead of owning up to a mistake and moving forward, it feels as though a vast number of people refuse to own up to their actions, steadfastly blaming everyone but themselves. I know that the answer for future generations starts with parents who let their children assume responsibility for their own lives.  But I struggle with how to help the intermediate generations, the ones raised on pedestals.  How do we get these people off their pedestals and back on solid ground?  

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