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AIBU to think that children and teenagers were not better behaved in the (mythical rose tinted) good old days?

(86 Posts)
Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 16:50:56

If they were, why can we see badly behaved children and defiant teens throughout literature:

Emma - not a spoilt teenager who thought she knew it all?

Romeo and Juliet - the story of teenagers not affected by their hormones?

Agnes Grey - no unpleasant teens in the Bloomfield family?

Max and Moritz - good boys who always listened to their elders?

The lion and Albert - a poem about a well behaved boy doing as his parents said for fear of a clip around the ear?

Obviously literature isn't fact, but if the entitled brat/ naughty child/ selfish teen were really a recent phenomenon then the type wouldn't appear in literature going back centuries...

Or do people perhaps believe that children and adolescents were uniquely respectful and law abiding in their own youth or that of their children and things have deteriorated from the heady examples set for us by the teenage mods of the 1960s ... grin

Not denying aspects of childhood and society have changed over time of course, and that while some if the changes have been for the good others have not, but MN seems peppered with comments on how children / teens used to be, in one way or another, better (better behaved, more respectful) at some vague point in the past (due, it is often implied, to mollycoddling ).

AIBU to think this is just sloppy cliche and rose tinted nostalgia, and that kids have always been naughty (sometimes), teens have always been stroppy and defiant (sometimes - and almost certainly even before the term teenager came into use) and every single generation since the dawn of time has believed that society is going to the dogs, as proved by the dreadful behaviour of Young People These Days?

acasualobserver Wed 27-Jul-16 16:53:49

Albert was eaten by a lion after poking a stick (with a horse's head handle) into the ear of a sleeping lion.

Chillyegg Wed 27-Jul-16 16:55:22

I think the same stuffs always gone on ie teenage pregnancy etc. However as a society were more open and social media means we're more open at Sharing. The Internet etc aswell means much more is accessible so we know about naughty teenagers in Taiwan for instance.
Another point is as a nation were much more secular and so aren't inhibited by church or community stigma.

Donatellalymanmoss Wed 27-Jul-16 16:58:24

I'm sure I was reading something recently about today's teenagers being better behaved than before. Less drinking, working harder at school, less smoking and teen pregnancy rates are falling.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 17:00:16

Yes acasualobserver - such behaviour is that of a horrible entitled brat whose parents do not have him under control presumably, that is my point. He got his comeuppance in the poem, as did Max and Moritz, but why write such stuff at all if children were all delightful and respectful and obedient in "the old days"?

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 17:03:08

Yes Chilly I think a big part of it is that any and everything is shared at the click of a button these days - most people would only have known about what went on in their own house/ village/ on their street, or the really big stuff that made the printed newspaper.

Donna that's interesting - will see if I can find that later (got to get dinner sorted now for my own mollycoddled entitled brats grin )

iklboo Wed 27-Jul-16 17:04:37

The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.


Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 17:05:52

Yep sorry Chilly forgot to acknowledge the fact that at some point in the past misbehaviour was more likely to get back to your mum/ dad, which might have been a deterrent. However some people still live in places like that now, but I doubt it has been the majority experience since before the industrial revolution (certainly not in living memory).

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 17:07:10

Iklboo exactly - that is a much better example than mine, even Socrates was saying kids of today have no respect back in 400 BC or so grin

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Wed 27-Jul-16 17:07:44

Teenagers weren't really a thing until the 60s though were they? You were a child then you were an adult. It was only then they started to rebel!

Birdsgottafly Wed 27-Jul-16 17:11:32

I think kids/teens did what they were told more, in 'my' day (70's), because you were hit. They certainly wasn't more respectful towards others.

I can remember a few Parents of disabled children having to put them into Care, because life was tough and made more difficult by the People around them, including the children.

My family suffered from Racism and nothing was done, bullying wasn't dealt with in schools and there was a lot of Victim blaming.

Previously, there was someone that you could 'pick on', without being condemned by society.

I've seen some pictures from the Jewish Progroms and it was mainly Teen boys doing the raping and killing of their neighbors.

It was younger men/teen boys who seemed to enjoy the lynching, the most.

"Behaving" was linked to survival, so youngsters had to conform, within the family.

antiqueroadhoe Wed 27-Jul-16 17:12:42

I don't think behaviour has changed that much. I think kids in school do probably work harder - quite a lot to do with the huge pressure a lot feel.

However, I do think "attitude" has worsened, and I do think parents are much more likely, whether because they are too busy or just cant be bothered, to tolerate / ignore it.
Life is far more centred around children in the UK than previously, giving children the impression that it is All About Them.

WhooooAmI24601 Wed 27-Jul-16 17:15:28

I don't think life was any better in the 60's or 70's or 80's, and I know for an absolute fact that my siblings and I were utter twats as teens. So much so that my Mum likes to regale us with tales of horror about my older brother, who was King Twat for some time. He's a respectable 50-something businessman now with a fabulous wife and two lovely children. But he was such a dick that my dad reckons he worked overtime at weekends just to escape the house for a few years.

WhooooAmI24601 Wed 27-Jul-16 17:19:04

I do agree with antique though, that parents attitudes have changed; as a teen if I'd been in trouble at school it would have been ten-fold at home. Now I often see DS1's friends parents going up to their school guns-blazing because their precious darlings have told a teacher to fuck off and gotten themselves in trouble. In the 80's and 90's parents didn't seem so eager to believe their children were entirely innocent, or so quick to judge the teachers.

acasualobserver Wed 27-Jul-16 17:20:33

The poem describes Albert as a "grand little lad" and "quite a swell". Indeed, we are invited to admire his courage when he attempts to rouse the lion. The parents are painted in a worse light IMO.

Pardonwhat Wed 27-Jul-16 17:23:17

You're completely correct and anyone who says otherwise is wrong.
It's like when I keep hearing the whole "ooooh there's so much more crime than a few years ago" being thrown aroundconfused. Not according to actual statistics.
People just chat shit.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 17:59:40

That is ironic acasual - the whole thing is - being a swell (noun) isn't a compliment - its got the same connotations as being a dandy, pretentious, showy etc. The "no better than they should be" aspect is emphasised by the line about Woolworths. Albert is being ridiculed as an entitled upstart brat who gets what he deserves. IMO.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 18:08:33

FeliciaJollygoodfellow the word wasn't coined, but there was still a loosely defined transitional period especially for the slightly better off. Those in skilled trades had an apprenticeship of around 7 years from about 14 to 21 or so, and certainly apprentices were expected to have "youthful exuberance" and occupy a place between childhood and adulthood.

There has never been a time in recorded history in the west where it was the norm to set up your own household at 13 or 14 - even in medieval times children did not usually marry and leave the parental home until around the age of 20. For many there would have an in between period of 6-8 or so years where, though they might work they still had leisure time and they still lived at home or in the home of their master/ mistress who effectively performed the role of foster parent, and were unmarried and not expected to shoulder full adult responsibilities but were not children.

acasualobserver Wed 27-Jul-16 18:16:24

You have applied some very unfair connotations to the word "swell" which might also indicate desirable fashionability. In any case "grand" - particularly in Lancashire dialect - can only be positive. It is the venal father - hand outstretched for compensation - who is most judged by the poem.

MassDebate Wed 27-Jul-16 18:20:42


Spottytop1 Wed 27-Jul-16 18:22:58

I have seen a difference in children's behaviour in the last 10-15 years and seen it deteriorate, so I am pretty sure that behaviour was better back then.

Witchend Wed 27-Jul-16 18:24:14

Albert isn't being ridiculed-go and read The Return of Albert if you think it's meant to be a cautionary tale about getting what they deserve.

It's about the silly actions of adults. My favourite is Three Ha'pence a Foot.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 18:28:28

Acasual the whole admiration of Albert and his family and representation of them being right and entitled to have their way is tongue in cheek and transparently so - Albert was a grand lad, the waves were fiddlin and small, there was nothing to laugh at at the beach because nobody drowned...

A grand little lad was their Albert
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
'E'd a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle
The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much to the ocean
The waves, they was fiddlin' and small
There was no wrecks... nobody drownded
'Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all.

but I didn't mean to make it a literary criticism thread - and actually your interpretation of the poem doesn't take away from the point that poets, authors and playwrights were writing about bratty/ naughty/ entitled kids (whether they admired them or not - though I strongly disagree that we are meant to admire Albert) decades and indeed centuries ago.

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 18:31:24

Spottytop all of us over the age of 35 have "seen" the last 15 years - it doesn't make your view more valid than anyone else's.

I was a secondary school teacher 15 years ago and don't think children behave any worse now then when I was teaching...

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Wed 27-Jul-16 18:34:49

Witchend yes The Return of Albert sees the parents value the insurance settlement above their child - it doesn't suggest Albert is a well behaved child though!

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