Are troubled children an accident? Or is our unthinking behavior creating the problems of today? Anyone that knows me personally, knows that I love movies. I am a big fan of powerful images, action packed thrillers, and special effects, while still loving inspirational cinema such as Courageous.
Troubled Children: Careless Parents
A couple of days ago I took my two grandsons (14 and 16) to see The Dark Knight Rises, and to be perfectly honest – I really enjoyed it. As a matter of fact I have enjoyed the entire trilogy. I must admit that it bothers me that some things seem to be acceptable in a PG – 13 movie that would not have been when my children were teens, or at all when I was a teenager myself. But that is another story.
I went with my teenage grandsons because they are (I think) reasonably well adapted, intelligent boys who are able to differentiate between what is and is not acceptable, and between movie fiction and real life. I may be kidding myself here, I don’t know.
The thing that really bothered me was the large number of children attending the movie that were well under thirteen. This is a loud fairly high action film with some language and lots of oh ‘so cool’ violence. There were at least two babies (you know – can’t walk yet, cry at loud noises, etc.) present and I would estimate a minimum of thirty children below the age of ten. You may say, so what? It is up to the parents how they raise their kids. And I agree. But I feel very strongly that the vast majority of those parents are unconsciously creating potential monsters.
Which of the pictured can be considered troubled children? All of them. The bully, the victim, the conspirator, the confidant: all of these behaviors are representative of relationship difficulties. But, how does this happen? Are any of these youths born as they are? Is it like the movie The Bad Seed where the titled representative of today’s troubled children apparently was evil from birth?
Troubled Children: Thoughtless Adults
We do so much without thinking it through. We often tell our teenagers to think about the possible consequences of their actions before they do things. If you read Sean Covey’s great book The 6 Most Important Decisions You’ll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens (and I strongly urge you to do just that) you will be reminded of the temptations of the teens years and the life – long effects some decisions will have.
Now, you may be wondering why I am bringing this up now. Well, yet another study has been published detailing a Direct link between what kids watch, do.
This is not the first and I am sure that it will not be the last. The study declares that “Movies appear to fundamentally influence personality.” Do you get that? The things our kids see, whether in the movies, at home, in school or the news is a contributing cause to the high incidence of troubled children in our society. If you take a minute and read the article linked above you will see that the main focus of the study was regarding sexual behavior. But it is kind of like advertising: it either works or it doesn’t, period. If a movie affects a youth’s attitude about sexual behavior, will it not also affect how that youth feels about violence? Read it carefully and decide for yourself if a little ‘content control’ can help you aviod the unnecessary struggles brought about in a family with troubled children.
You see, I believe what I was taught many years ago. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. On 9-11 were any guns needed?
Or take it a step further. In the aftermath of The Dark Knight Rises shooting there is much talk about AK-47s, even by our President. And yet since his AK-47 jammed, it was the other weapons the shooter brought to bear that caused the tragedy. Yes, it was a tragedy, but the sickness was in the person, not his method.
All those kids at the movie with me, watching brutality, some of it by the “good guys,” what goes on in their subconscious mind? No one knows for sure. But we do know, fro studies and from life: that whatever you experience over and over, you become numb to. Witness enough of anything and at least some percentage will then think it is nothing to do it themselves.
It is time for us to wake up, or the things that we do unthinking may be the death of us all. Without a doubt, troubled children become troubled adults: people who live lives filled with anxiety and who create myriad problems in the world they are a part of.
So, we’re all sitting around watching Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, which boils down to watching Anakin Skywalker go down the road that will turn him into Darth Vader. Every person that I know asks at some point during the movie, “How could he do that? Why is he listening to Palpatine? Can’t he see he is being led in the wrong direction? Why doesn’t he trust his friend & mentor and woman who loves him?” What’s the point? I mean — it’s just a movie.
And yet, it feels exactly like something we see in everyday life. That is; children and adults blindly following a person/idea that others (particularly those who love them) can see is dangerous. For example: Why do some of our kids get involved with gangs? And others with cults? Why do some people choose to stay in abusive relationships? How can you explain the wife beaten many times who goes back with him again and again and again?
There are as many reasons why this happens as there are people it happens to. But they all boil down to the same thing: they are all looking for something. They are “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” It is what they desperately need, that they feel is lacking, but they actually already have.
The child who does not feel loved or appreciated is at risk of falling prey to the people user who senses that spirit of lack. Growing up we need the people around us to help us understand our worth. The feedback your child gets points them in the right direction and helps them to discover who they are and what they want in life. It is usually during the teenage years when children begin to learn that the only source of genuine happiness is within.
If you spend your life believing that your only hope for happiness/fulfillment lays with others, you will live in fear. Fear of never finding them, fear of losing them, fear of having found the wrong one, and no matter what happens, a person living like that is easy pickings for the users and abusers in the world. If adults are susceptible, how is a child expected to make it through?
A close friend’s spouse once asked her, “Do I make you happy?” Her answer was a bit of a shock to him, at least at first. She said, “No.” But it was the following comment that made all the difference. “As much as I love you, YOU can’t make me happy. My happiness has to come from inside myself.” The people in your life are priceless but your value is no less to them. Yet each of us has to first realize our self worth, our internal strengths.
“A lot of people blur the boundary and hang their happiness on others. Unfortunately by doing so, they pretty much guarantee unhappiness for everyone involved. No matter who is in your life, whether it’s children, spouse, friends or family members, your happiness has to come from within first. And then once you’re happy, you can help others work on their happiness in a healthy way.
But isn’t it better to give of yourself and make sure others are happy? Isn’t that the selfless thing to do? Nope. And I’m going to go as far as saying that hanging your happiness on the happiness of others isn’t selfless at all – it’s totally selfish and puts unfair and unrealistic expectations on others.” Alex Fayle
Your child is actively seeking happiness in their day to day life. But they are desperate for the feeling of being loved every minute of their existence.
“But what is going to happen if you are starving for love, if you don’t have that love in your heart, and someone comes and says, “you want a little love? You can have my love if you just do what I want you to do.” If you are starving for love, and you taste that love, you are going to do whatever you can for that love. You can even be so needy that you give your whole soul just for a little attention.” Don Miguel Ruiz
It is really up to you, the parent, to make sure your child has the love they need to avoid the traps users set for those who are looking in all the wrong places.
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