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The "Teflon Generation"
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The “Teflon Generation”

By Bernadette A. Moyer

I have often thought about how I was raised versus today’s kids, when I came up, if we hurt someone or did something wrong we were expected to own it, say we were sorry and take the consequences for our actions, it was personal responsibility. We were held up as an example and expected to learn from our mistakes.

Turn over your auto insurance card and read what is says, mine reads “do not admit fault.” So does that mean that even if the accident was my fault I am not supposed to say, “I am sorry?” How can we be surprised when we have raised a generation of kids who do not accept responsibility for their own actions? I see it with my own kids, I see it with my peer parent’s kids and I see it in our society. We have helped to form the “Teflon generation” where nothing sticks or catch me if you can as lies upon lies are made to avoid taking any personal responsibility.

Who ever thought smoking was good for us? Yet after years and years of taking in cigarette smoke we have people that have sued the cigarette makers for their ill health? Did anyone ever say “cigarette smoking is a healthy habit and a great idea?” No one forced anyone that I know to purchase cigarettes and then smoke them.

What about the person who “accidentally” spills coffee on themselves and then successfully sues and wins against the coffee maker for the coffee being so hot? Maybe the coffee was hot, but the coffee seller isn’t the person who spilled it?

Our kids are overweight and we have “watch dog” groups that want to sue the fast food companies? Have I missed something here? No one ever forced me to buy and then eat a burger, French fries and a milkshake? How about you? Again, for me, it is personal responsibility. Every single day I make the choice as to what foods I put into my mouth. Don’t you?

How many of us grew up and drank or had sex in our parent’s house? Truthfully? Or had a friend who did just that? Today we hold parents responsible for what their kids do? It must be the parents! Why can’t the parents “control” their children? Bad parenting! I am just as guilty as the next guy of having a knee jerk reaction and wanting to blame the parents.       

Sue started having sex at the age of 15 and in her parent’s home, her parents trusted Sue who was an honor student at a private school. Sue wasn’t alone as her teen girlfriends were having sex too. How exactly does a parent “control” this behavior?

Initially Sue was punished and all privileges were taken away, she lost her computer and cell phone along with dating and going out privileges. Within days Sue gave another version of the story badmouthed her parents and was given unlimited computer access by her high school teacher. She found a way to continue to see her boyfriend and to have sex with him. Sue manipulated her teacher and learned that she could continue manipulation with great ease and move from one person to the next never owning her own stuff. She was rewarded by telling her version of stories and continues this patterned behavior long into her adult life. Sue seldom takes responsibility for her own choices in life. She blames anyone she can blame for her actions and her choices.

John had a “drinking” pool party when his parents were out of town, John graduated high school but is underage and brought in dozens of his under aged friends who openly drank and smoked cigarettes and cigars in his parents’ home when they were away. John was his class President and his parents believed he was trust worthy but the trash can filled with a variety of beer bottles, booze, cigarettes and cigars tells another story.

Who is responsible for what happens at home when both parents are away and have no knowledge of what their legally aged adult children (over 18 under 21) are doing? What if one of John’s friends got drunk and had an auto accident on his way home? Are the parents liable and at risk? When John is confronted he lies and lies and finally when cornered says, “I’ll move out!”  

Everyone is afraid of lawsuits and parents are wringing their hands at the behaviors of their own children. When I grew up we weren’t saints but the difference was that if we got into trouble, the police took us home and our parents dealt with us. Today these kids get arrested. The stakes are higher and everything hits the internet, it is no longer just a family matter but available knowledge for the entire community and the entire world.

How can we expect our kids to take responsibility for their actions when our society sends another message, play the victim and be rewarded? We have our own insurance companies on our own insurance cards telling us, “Do not admit fault.” Before anyone even knows what happened? Maybe it was “our” fault.

What are we teaching our children when they can smoke cigarettes, and they can pig out on fast foods and spill hot coffee on them; blame their actions on someone else, successfully sue them and win large cash settlements? Why should they take any responsibility when they can blame everyone else for their own poor choices and then be rewarded?

How many people were sold homes they couldn’t afford with low or no documentation programs? Then when they couldn’t afford to pay for them they walked away leaving the bank with the home and “short sale” resulting in de-valued homes and de-valued neighborhoods. These actions have caused the responsible homeowners to lose value in their homes too.

Who ever thought it was a good idea to give a mortgage to someone without employment verification or credit verification? If we continue on this path, we can’t be surprised when we have raised kids who don’t take responsibility for their actions and who then grow up and become adults who don’t take responsibility for their own actions. These folks are what I call the Teflon generation, it is never their fault and nothing ever sticks to them!