Nobody cared about kids' self-esteem in the maligned '50s and overrated '60s. They cared about kids' behavior and manners. "Sir" was every dad's name.
A call home from a teacher put an arctic chill in your bones. If you cheated, used profanity or used drugs, fergitaboutit. You might as well tattoo your forehead with an inky T -- traitor.
"Remember who you are" meant you were somebody -- a person loved, cared about, invested in. You were a repository of great expectations for people you didn't want to disappoint.
Peers were other people you liked and whose admiration you sought, but who ultimately had less power -- and skinnier belts -- than the folks back home.
If peers make the difference in today's culture, as Harris contends, there's a reason for it. It's not that parents "count zilch"; they've simply sacrificed their roles to their children's peers. Parents still count zillions, but first you have to be a parent.
this originally appeared in the Telegram & Gazette, Worcester, MA
sometime in the '80s. I still have the original version I cut out of the
paper, way back when.
November 19, 2012