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Loss Of Community

When I grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan as a kid, the entire neighborhood seemed like they knew each other. There were no cell phones or anything like that. Just the good old land line to deliver information. It didn’t seem to matter how sneaky you were being, prying eyes were everywhere. I would be doing something I shouldn’t and a neighbor from 3 blocks away would call my Mom and rat me out. It was like a network of Mom’s who conspired to take all of our fun away. There was also neighbors who had the implied consent of my parents to smack my ass when I needed it. God forbid someone do that to your little angel today and they would be locked up as an abuser. People used to invite the neighbors over to grill out or have dinner and drinks. The kids I grew up with all played together. We had baseball and football games and sleep overs all the time. We would walk to the corner store called Penny Anna’s. It was a nice time and it felt safer than the disconnected world we live in now. Times have certainly changed and I don’t believe it’s for the better.

The Anti-Neighborhood

When I built my new home back in 2000, I felt like it was going to be cool to live in a neighborhood again. I was excited about meeting new neighbors, forming those bonds, and raising a family. Well, I was certainly in for a rude awakening. Most of the neighbors on my street didn’t even speak to you. They just came home, opened their garage door, and ignored anyone who wasn’t their family. It was fairly strange in that people seemed to go out of their way to be impersonal. My neighbor Dragan was an exception to that though. He was a friendly Albanian guy who used to pretty try everyday to get me to have a beer or some Albanian Moonshine. I had to become like my neighbors and pull into my garage or I would have been drinking 7 days a week. haha. I few of my other neighbors were borderline cool. They would have parties and invite the neighborhood. The one night, the neighbors wife was hitting on me when she was drunk and he got a really big attitude! I wasn’t hitting on her, I was thinking “keep your wife in check or satisfied so she isn’t look for fulfillment from me. Needless to say, I stopped talking to those two after that night. There was a strained nature to that relationship after that evening. My dream of having an idyllic life was short lived. Everybody seemed pompous and distant so a year later, my home appreciated $75,000 so I sold it and left. I bought a condo, but I had none of the delusions of grandeur moving there. I knew we were in a far different time than I grew up in.

How It Has Changed People

Instead of a tight knit community where people were interested in each other succeeding, most people seem to be suspicious of everyone and distant and cold. If people come tell you what your child was doing wrong, they get met with a “F**K OFF! Mind your own business!” Hell, the kids even tell adults the same thing. There is no respect, no regard for authority by young and old alike. The world is showing the effects of this in the news daily. Kids act like fools because their parents are more interested in trying to be their friend than they are raising a good child. Kid’s have enough friends, they need parents and sometimes being a parent makes you the bad guy. I liked that my parents set boundaries for me, even if I hated them at the time. It taught me how to delay gratification and how to deal with the disappointment of not always getting my way. I remember one day in Dicks Sporting Goods some 8 year old kid was having a tantrum because his Mom wouldn’t buy him $150 shoes! I was thinking “Damn, if you pulled this with my Mom, you would have had any teeth.” I kept thinking to myself, “how does this kid feel entitled to those shoes?” We are raising a generation of children who think they can do anything with no fear of reprisal. Adults have built this system, not children; they just live within it!

Can It Be Fixed?

Sure, anything is possible. It starts with parents being parents, not buddies. Also, parents need to be realistic about their children. They aren’t perfect; your little angel does do things wrong and it’s okay for them to be called to task for it. Instead, parent’s make excuses for their kid’s failures. These days kids get second chances at exams, at sports team, etc. Everyone is so afraid to say or do anything to upset kids it’s ridiculous. Your child’s self esteem will be fine. I got cut off my first baseball team because they won the championship the year before and didn’t want to change anyone. They cut 4 of my friends as well. Guess what we did? We went and formed out own team. When we played that team, we beat the absolute crap out of them. We all felt redeemed but even if we didn’t win, we would have adjusted. We just made up a contingency plan. That is what resourceful people do. When you fight you child’s battles, you take the ability to adapt, the ability to absorb disappointment away and they end of ill suited to deal with those things later on in life. I think that this is why you see so many mass shootings and rampages like that. These kid’s are told how special they are form day 1. Sure, our children are special…to us! They aren’t special to a fast paced world. They are just another cog that is part of this machine we call life. Look at kids who become Hollywood stars at a young age. Most grow up like Lindsay Lohan, no boundaries or rules, so they do what they want. It’s all good until it comes off the rails for the rest of the world to see.

How To Fix It

Try being communal in your own neighborhood. Invite people over to do dinner or a BBQ. They may say no, but at east you asked. It’s funny how many people will sit around waiting for others to make a move. Be proactive in life. Stop waiting for it to change. Just make it change. Stop worrying whether you child will feel bad if they fail an exam or get cut from a baseball team. Disappointment is a wonderful motivator. How about siding with that teacher who has to deal with 35 of you little angels instead of attacking them? If the neighbor say’s you kid has been up to no good, maybe listen to the adult and then ask you child what is up? We need to bond together as a society; the fabric of our country is getting threadbare. It’s not too late, it’s never too late. Sometimes advancement isn’t advancement, but rather a regression. Our society moves forward at break neck speed with information and technology, but we are in the stone age when it comes to social interactions and parenting. Perhaps our parent’s weren’t so crazy. Sure would be nice to get that warm sense of community back across our great country.