The Pendulum Swings with Every Generation
Actions Have Consequences
Because this is true, we should learn from shortfalls and embrace strong suits, building character with those tools, rather than creating blame for what isn't right in our lives. For us to cast blame on another generation for our own shortcomings is to say that what we do today is already condemned by the next. No one is exempt in this 'game'. It's either absorb or repel, depending on your personal strength & your own sense of dramatic influence.
Building strong character takes work and even if you do the work, one never knows whether a child will absorb or repel what you've endeavored to teach. Strong-willed parents don't always produce strong-willed children. Thieving children will either learn not to steal, or they will continue to steal into adulthood. Liars will either learn not to lie or they will lie as adults. It isn't always about 'children learn what they see', it's more about 'children decide what they learn'.
The simple exercise of teaching a child to say 'please' and 'thank you' is a great example. Most people recognize this as a standard of good manners, yet there are those who see it as conformity to values they don't believe in. This simple task of teaching this most elementary 'value' can make the difference in whether or not a child lives in gratitude or self-indulgence, as an adult.
The exercise of teaching a child the value of work is a bit tougher, during times when it's easier to sit them in front of a tv or video game so you're not bothered by their behavior for a few moments. When in reality, by doing so, you're sending the message that there is always an escape from what you should do, as opposed to what you 'want' to do. The value of work gets muddled by parents who 'want their children to have better than they had' and who allow a child to sit for hours and conjure up their own form of attention-grabbing 'entertainment' - sometimes destructive, sometimes downright WRONG.
People seem to think if "they" work two jobs or work harder, their children won't have to, when in reality they are sending the message that someone else will always take up the slack and responsibility for what you want and need in life. Those same parents seem terribly shocked when the child grows into a person who can't cope with what life throws their way, or who isn't good in handling every day mundane adult responsibility.
I wish when I'd had my children I'd have had a resource that understood what the impact and consequence for my actions would be with my children later in life. I think I was a good parent and I have no regrets about the way my children turned out, but it was WORK, it was never optional, and most of the time, making sure they understood the consequences of their actions took up a whole lot of time i would have just as soon they'd been off reading or playing while I relaxed. A friend of mine summed it up nicely when she said, "We don't create who our children are or who they become. Instead we create possibilities by setting a good example." I think if more people stopped making excuses for the bad behavior of themselves or their children, they'd realize what pallet of possibilities needs to be set out for that child to choose from later in life. Good manners, behavior that exemplifies that the child has actually had parents growing up - those simple things that help in forming healthy adults.