A message to Teenagers and Parents: DROP YOUR DOUBLE STANDARD
This article speaks out to both parents and teenagers. It's time both stopped hurling insults at one another and sit down to talk and change their ways of living.
TODAY THERE'S A LOT of talk about the "Generation Gap." A thousand and one articles about the "new" generation about parents who just "don't understand these kids." There are TV specials, magazine articles, even books about the "hip scene," the drug explosion, new dress styles, the problem of runaways, teenage marriages, skyrocketing venereal disease, rock festivals, ad infinitum and sometimes ad nausea. Most of these programs, articles and books are written from the Establishment point of view. Not enough of them analyze BOTH points of view, and explain how both generations can close the mental chasm between them. Isn't it time we heard less of the "Gap" and more of a new-found "Communication" between the two generations?
Both Sides of the Coin
Let's stop a moment teenagers and parents. Let's understand WHY the "Great Generation Gap," and How it can be bridged. Many parents realize (many, many more don't) that they have lost the ability to really help their teenagers. They have allowed a barrier between themselves and their children to grow up through the years. teenagers feel parents don't "understand" them. Parents are at wits' end trying to deal with their teenagers. That's why parents need to listen to the generation they've lost contact with. This is how many of them view their parents' world.
"I Don't Like Your World"
"Why should I be like you?" this generation asks. "What do you have to offer? You don't have happiness. You don't have answers. Look at the sad shape your world is in. Since the day I was born, I've had to live under the threat of being blown to bits. Every day of my life has been spent under the shadow of the Bomb. This is your world you made it this way. You want me to be like you? You've got to be kidding! No, man, I'm going to do my own thing. I've got a message for you. You'd better clean up your own back yard, you know. You've been throwing stones while living in a glass house! Look at you, man. If your way is so good why do you have so many hang-ups? "You tell me I ought to get a job and work. Why should I? Look where work got you. Two hours every day fighting the freeway, eight hours a day chained to a desk and debts you're never going to pay off. All you have are frustrations, hang-ups, ulcers. And you want me to work. Look at you! "You tell me to lay off the pot and hash. Man, all I do is burn off a couple of joints a week, but you fag away two or more packs a day. Man, it says plainly on the side of the pack, 'Caution, cigarettes are dangerous to health'. You say I am going to ruin my health. Drugs aren't harmful, they aren't even addictive. "You tell me to stop wearing these clothes, and cut my hair. I say it is not important what I wear or how long my hair is. The really important thing is what kind of a person you are. You're just old fashioned. "You tell me, no premarital sex, to save myself for marriage, but man LOOK AT You. Here you are, 'making it' on the sly. Listen, we're living in your 'push-button world'. Push the wrong button and the world goes up in a puff of smoke. No, man, I'm going to live for today. Blow my mind? So who cares? I may get my body blown up! You can't expect me to be lily-white' all my life when you aren't doing the same. Look at you! "The whole 'straight' world is just one great big double standard. I mean, it's kind of ironic isn't it? Like, I didn't ask to be born into this world. Nobody asked me! This is your world not mine! "Go to Sunday School and learn the Golden Rule? Ha! You teach me to love my neighbor, peace and love, and all that stuff. Then when I'm old enough to live, you tell me I'm old enough to die! I find a gun in my hands and a bunch of 'straights' running around telling me to kill somebody I don't even know. It just doesn't make any sense! And even dying isn't enough for you, you want me to die for nothing. "Yeah, and why should I fight to save your world? You're fouling the air to where it ain't fit to breathe, you're polluting the water till it ain't fit to drink. And the food yech! And all of this for the Jolly Giant Greenback. You tell me I'm old enough to die for my country, but I'm not old enough to vote in it. I'm old enough to fight, but not old enough to drink. "It doesn't add up."
A Frank Analysis
That's just a partial list of complaints the "now" generation has against their parents. We could go on and on with a dozen more such mental battles between parents and teenagers. But the examples already given sufficiently illustrate what the "Do as I say, not as I do" philosophy of a generation of parents has done to teenagers. Yet, some parents are naοve. They don't realize this is How teenagers view their double-standard morality. And this is a primary cause of the generation gap if only parents would wake up. Parents usually mean well. They don't want their teenager to mess up his life. Yet, parents are often guilty of the exact sins they condemn their teenagers for. Result? teenagers attack their parents' way of life. They do not want to be like them. teenagers don't like what they see in their elders. Parents become shocked that their teenagers think this way. But parents shouldn't be. teenagers do talk about their parents' double standard. Some are so upset they plainly tell interviewers: "You know something, I hate my parents." teenagers often think of parents and their double-standard world and they aren't happy with them or it. How can you parents span such a drastic breach? It's simple and hard at the same time. You'll first have to change your way of living. If the shoe fits... no more two packs a day, no weekend adultery, no drunken debauches, no more cheating on your income tax, no sly remarks about "cops," no racial prejudice. Spend a lot less time at bridge, or whatever hobby and a whole lot more time with the family. Find out what's on your teenager's mind. Whatever you do don't assume that your teenager doesn't think like most teenagers. That's the surest sign that he DOES. Young people can't escape the impact of pot, sex, and a whole host of wrong attitudes and practices in their society. They are, in most cases (assume your case is No exception), part and parcel in one degree or another of the new wave of thinking sweeping the "younger" generation.
Another Set of Double Standards
We've been talking about the double standard of parents. We've bashed the parents' wretched, unhappy world pretty hard. Now it's time to take a good look in the other direction. Let's turn the double standard around and ask you teenagers a few questions. That is, if you can listen as well as advise. You say Mom and Dad don't have any peace or love. But why are some of you rioting in high schools and on college campuses, bombing buildings, destroying? Above all, why should you hate your parents? What about your society? You have your peace symbol and that's fine. But so does the U.N. You say you want peace, but so does the Establishment. But do you have peace among yourselves? No riots? No arguments? No gang murders? It is time BOTH sides stopped for a moment and took a look at THEMSELVES! You condemn Mom and Dad for smoking. You remind them of the "CAUTION cigarette smoking may be harmful to health!" warning. Then in your next breath you're sucking on a joint of marijuana which comes with the same warning from the same Establishment sources.
Where's the Right?
And even if parents did smoke while telling you not to use pot how does this suddenly justify your actions? Two wrongs don't make a right. And you condemn Mom and Dad for "sleeping around"! But what about you? What about the 300,000 known illegitimate births every year in the United States alone? A great majority are born to teenagers. Those babies did not ask to be born into YOUR world of pot and "free love"! You shake the fat finger at Dad and Mom for messing around after marriage, then turn around and do virtually the same thing before marriage and after. Where's the difference? Something doesn't jell. Your reasoning is all messed up. It is like the "pot calling the kettle black"! You point to Mom and Dad, and say, "Look Mom, you told me I was wrong to steal, you taught me the Big Ten, but you lift things from the stores. And Dad, you taught me the same, yet you steal by cheating on your income tax!" Does that give you an excuse to steal? Can you defend that kind of reasoning? If so, we'd like to hear from you. No, two wrongs don't make a right! The DOUBLE STANDARDS ARE ON BOTH SIDES! It is time both sides stopped hurling caustic, vitriolic accusations at each other long enough to examine themselves and change. For every double standard on one side there is a "cousin counterpart" on the other. The entire world would become a better place if the "Look at you" attitude would become an introspective "Look at me" attitude.
A Time for a Talk
Okay, we've blasted away at both sides. We hope no one is mad. We want to make friends of you, and we want you to make friends of each other parents and teenagers. We've already told you parents what the problem is. Now a word to you teenagers. Many teenagers talk of the wonderful times they used to have with parents of the places they went and what they did together. And both teenagers and parents could talk together, get to know each other. Why not take the initiative parents and teenagers? There are a lot of beautiful four-letter words like love, hope, care, nice, good. Another beautiful word when properly applied is the simple one: T-A-L-K. TALK is cheap they say. But talk can accomplish a lot at the table, in the living room, during a walk. So, parents and teenagers, take the plunge. Jump in. The water's warm and it feels fine. Be willing to listen to each other. Communication is a Two-WAY process. Talking, on the telephone is useless unless BOTH parties respond. Above all, each of you get rid of your OWN double standard. Quit hiding behind a protectionist wall. Be ready and willing to change what is wrong in your lives!