patjo asks: Do you think that children are bad because of themselves or their parents?
Hi Patjo –
Well, I don’t know if this is the answer you want, but my answer to your question is… No! Absolutely Not!
I know what you’re asking, but what I’m saying is that I don’t think children are bad! I think children are absolutely fantastic. I think children are magical miracles – funny and brilliant and sweet and fiery and… oh they just smell great!
Now if you ask why I think children behave badly, that’s a fairer question. But my answer would be equally vague. Children can behave badly for any number of reasons, including their parents. Or their teacher, or their friends, or because they’re feeling ill, or because their dog is missing, or…
Overall, kids misbehave for one of two reasons. Either because they’re tempted to, or because something is really bothering them. If a child steals a treat from the cookie jar, that probably isn’t a sign of anything other than enjoyable naughtiness. If they’re stealing money from their parents, or socking their little brother, that might be the same reason, but it’s getting to a level that the parent really needs to intervene.
But if the kid is bullying at school, or starting to take drugs, or robbing other kids, or joining a gang – these things really do imply that something bigger is wrong. And that could be due to a problem with the parents, or with something else in their world, or even possibly a chemical problem or something in their brain. But in the vast majority of cases, it’s just the kid reacting to something in their lives (or the lack of something they need in their lives).
Patjo, that’s a very noncommittal answer, I realize. But I would need to know a lot more about a particular case in order to be more specific. However, I do urge you to realize that… have you ever seen the lovely old movie “Boys’ Town,” with Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney? It’s a true story about a priest who opens a sort of camp for boys who’ve been in trouble, all based on the concept that “There is No Such Thing as a Bad Boy.” Well I’m no priest, but I like to think of my pack as a “Kids’ Town,” and I definitely think There Is No Such Thing as a Bad Kid. (Or, for that matter, a bad dog! Though some are inclined to be pretty ferocious, so I prefer to avoid them!)