Mother knows best. You know it's true. Back when your bike always had air in its tires and your bed magically made itself each morning, mom knew everything. From how to make boo-boos better to explain why popcorn pops (or, nowadays, why Edward is obviously much more sensitive and mature than Jacob), her no nonsense take on life made the boogeyman recede into the dark, dusty corner of your imagination where he belonged and gave you no doubts as to what was really important in life. But in today's world I am no longer convinced that "Mom" has the answers, and am left desperately wondering where the next generation are going to get their inner compasses tuned, since an hour of Sesame Street per day doesn't seem to be cutting it.
We live in the "She started it!" generation. Throw a rock in any direction and you will hit someone trying to blame, sue, exploit or burden someone else for all of life's problems and inconveniences (note to readers: Please don't literally throw a rock. You will most likely hit someone with his lawyer on speed-dial.) Responsibility is something that is someone else's problem. Politicians blame yesterday's leaders for today's headaches and tomorrow's uncertainty without blinking an eye. Parents blame teachers, government, sugar, music, friends, Happy Meals, lead-based paint, corporate greed, temperature changes, doctors, text messaging, movie stars, breakfast cereal (do you see where I am going with this?), and each other for their neglect and their children's complete disrespect for the way things (should) work. "Someone gave him drugs! It's not my/his/anyone-but-your fault!" gives way just as easily to, "What am I supposed to do? YOU should have medicated him!" My personal favorite (sarcasm for the parents I would most like to punch in the teeth) are they that blame French fries and Hostess cakes for their Elementary-age children's obesity. Are you kidding me?! They eat their meals with you! You are providing them with a never-ending supply of Oreos and that oh-so-healthy pattern of starving, bingeing, and late-night snacking! What are they supposed to do? Oh, I'm sorry. You're right. It must be the school's fault for having Cheetos on the menu.
The more I look at the headlines of the day, the more I wonder if the logical solution of personal responsibility and problem-resolution will ever be heard. It would seem that everyone loves a good fight too much to care about the solution. With more people today involved in the he-said, she-said politics of this country than in the last few decades combined, the time for real conversations about the problems our country is facing (more value-related than policy-based) is now, yet conversation has been replaced by name-calling and hair-pulling. Even so-called news shows have become more talk show than cold, hard fact. I am no longer surprised to turn on major news networks and find celebrities (known more for sex tapes and partying than work in legitimate film and music careers) weighing in on issues and promoting their latest line of hair extensions in the same breath. And you thought terrorists were scary.
For this finger-pointing plague I have a solution that, to some (idiots), is going to sound old-fashioned. Let's take an episode out of our Leave It to Beaver past and get back to the idea that Mother actually does know best. You know, before Mother was a Desperate Housewife or a Scotch-wielding stage mom. I believe that if moms ran this country, real moms whose lives consist of bake sales and scraped knees, we might be able to get this whole mess straightened out. It would take some discipline and sacrifice (dirty words to many), but following yesterday's Mom's example is just the thing to get us pointed in the right direction today. Let's teach things like personal responsibility ("You made this mess, you clean it up."), individuality ("If Kim Kardashian jumped off of a bridge, would you too?"), problem-solving ("I don't care who started it, figure it out."), and accountability ("Did you do your homework? Take out the trash? Do the dishes?").
If we leave the task of teaching values to someone else, kids will only learn what the cast of The Real World has to offer them- real skills like how to binge drink and take group showers. And if we don't hold them accountable for their actions, we will only breed a new generation of finger-pointing hypocrites who can play Halo all night long but can't keep a job and are looking for someone else to pick up their tab. No one else is going to do this for us. No one else is to blame. Life can be hard and that's okay. We can't insulate our families against all of the horrible things out there, against those who would hurt them, or the crap that happens. We can only teach them to be the best they can be, to rely on themselves and their Creator, to not look for hand-outs or cop-outs or the easy way out and to keep their faith strong. And I just don't think Elmo can get all of that across AND teach our kids about hand-washing and the letter K in his 10am time slot. Perhaps once his album drops.