While it is easy for adults to emote in knee-jerk reaction about the lowering morals among kids today, I was struck by the reality that so many adult role models, especially “famous” ones, bend morality and truth to fit their own path to “success.” I’m also intrigued that the study hints at the increasing, and what seems to be overwhelming, pressure placed on adolescents by parents, education, coaches, and even churches. Is it possible that kids are running from the pervasive adult agendas to perform and in an attempt to find equilibrium decide it is acceptable to lie and cheat in order to get by?
One quote from the report is stunning:
More than eight in ten students (83 percent) from public schools and religious private schools confessed they lied to a parent about something significant. Students attending non-religious independent schools were somewhat less likely to lie to parents (78 percent).
Moralistic condemnation of young people has little long term impact on their character or internal integrity. Rather it is the powerful authentic presence of truth-living adults who fuel identity development based on unconditional acceptance, love, and careful boundary making.
Before we get up on our moral high-horse we’ve got to be honestly self-reflective about our own practice. USA Today reports research about the prevalence of parents lying to their kids.
The seeds of dishonesty may be sown in childhood but the fertilizer and water often flow from adults. Our kids are watching and their radar is keen.