When Aiming High, Keep Your Moral Standards Low… Right?

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“Reach for the stars! And feel free to knock others down on your way there – you were born to have it all!”

This is what I’m worried our kids are hearing these days as they grow up.  

I think one of the biggest challenges now facing parents is knowing how to help children achieve prosperity without becoming unaware of how to be respectable, considerate members of society. It seems that the world around us has started to teach the rising generation that they are entitled to certain privileges without earning them.

I recently read about the continuing case of the Stephentown 300 and was shocked (though sadly not surprised) that parents would respond so viciously to a man who, despite being a victim of their kids’ awful behavior, reached out to try and help them. Unfortunately, it confirmed my belief that too many of our youth today don’t understand what it means to just be good people.

Don’t get me wrong, I am regularly impressed by the actions of young people, and, on occasion, even feel confident in their ability to lead our country one day. But when I hear about situations where they let defensiveness toward rebuke for their wrongdoings become complete selfishness, and that their parents are backing them up, I worry.

What a beautiful story the Stephentown 300 situation could have been – teens act out and trash a man’s house, and he responds with compassion and consideration for them as human beings. He chose to extend a hand of forgiveness rather than, I don’t know, rushing to prosecute them (which would have probably been my preferred course of action were I to have my property vandalized) and lessons could have been learned.

Wouldn't that have been a great story about the goodness of mankind? I can just picture the inspirational music montage now: 300 kids showing remorse for their poor (illegal) judgement while picnicking with the former NFL player whose house they destroyed. Instead, the story is completely tainted by the ungrateful attitudes of the delinquent teens involved.

As someone in my 20s, I’m close enough to understand what life is like for teenagers in this generation. I don’t know anyone who makes it through those “happy, free, confused, and lonely” years (to quote a Taylor Swift song adored by millions of this demographic) without doing at least a few downright stupid things. I get it. Being a teenager is hard. It can be great, but it’s hard. Which is why I completely applaud the response of Brian Holloway – he understood. He didn't pat those kids on the back and give them the keys to a party house he’d decided to build for any future parties they may wish to throw, but he took the situation and found a way to deal with it positively, in a way that would make those kids’ lives (and morals) better.

So why did only one out of 300 children accept his gracious offer of a clean-up picnic? Did 299 young people really not recognize how incredibly kind Holloway was being for not wanting to punish the heck out of them? Have we really reached the point where we’re teaching our kids to genuinely believe that in situations such as this, details like the privacy of social-media crazed teens is more important than their rehabilitation into upstanding members of society? Effectively, the question this case begs is whether our kids believe that doing bad things is fine, as long as you can get off on a technicality.

I plead with parents everywhere to make sure their kids are learning principles of decency, of thoughtfulness, and of consideration towards others. I know most of us are trying hard to instil these things in our young people. But when our kids do something wrong, let’s try to react in a way that makes it clear that their behavior wasn't alright. Let’s give them a chance to redeem themselves, and let’s forgive them when they've paid their dues.

What do you think of Holloway’s response? What do you think about the reaction of the parents and kids?    

What do you think?

When Aiming High, Keep Your Moral Standards Low… Right?

Samantha Shelley is a student of Communication and Advertising at BYU-Idaho, who also works as a copywriter for Soapbox Agency. She is an avid promoter of happiness, being active, and Taylor Swift. In her spare time she enjoys singing, playing guitar, dancing, building ponds, and watching videos of kittens doing adorable things. Though currently 21 and unmarried, Samantha plans to one day have a family big enough to sing in at least 8-part harmonies. She would also like her children to continue ... More

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1 comment

  1. Krystel says:

    Living just North of where this occurred, it has been a developing story that has been closely followed by our local news stations. I find it horrifying that 299 parents have chosen to side with their children and making them look as the bad guys instead of taking the opportunity to teach them a lesson. Sadly this is a story that happens often in this area. 20 and 21 year olds drink and drive and kill high school students (this happened twice last year) and face minimal jail time. Teens and young adults in this area are taught that they can do what they want and get away with it. Like the blogger, I am also only in my early 20s and my parents and grandparents taught me that if I broke someone else’s property it was MY job to tell them and replace it. You better believe that if I had ever done something as careless and stupid as partying and ruining someone else’s home, I would have been forced to go to his house and fix absolutely everything I could, and if I couldn’t fix it, I would have either gotten a job to pay to fix it or worked it out with the owner to work for him (what ever it took) to pay him back.
    Last night the news did cover that 8 of the 300 have turned them selves in to authorities and are facing misdemeanors and one or two children are facing felonies. As a parent I would have rather my kid done a hard days work than be sitting in a cell for a few months to a few years.


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