Hypocrisy and Power Struggles in Working with Youth

Some people believe in a generation gap.  I don’t. Sure, there are gaps, but the gaps are less determined by age than by status.

Take, for instance, the lifeguards who, last week, yelled down a few of my kids who had started to cut across an area they weren’t supposed to cross to shorten their walk to the swimming area. The lifeguards were maybe 20 or 21 at the very oldest.  In generational terms, they are the same age as my high school kids.  In generational terms, I am old enough to be their father.

As an observer to my kids getting yelled at, I offered  a probably inappropriate rebuttal in their defense: “They probably saw you cutting across there just a few minutes ago!”

I don’t know if my kids had seen that, but I had.  I do know, though, that if those of us in authority, or who have some status fo control or power over others, expect them to act one way, we had better act that way, too.

Let me be clear; there are things that we can do as adults that youth and children cannot do.  This is not what I am talking about.

I’m talking about young people having keen hypocrite-meters.  If we tell not to cut across a fenced-off area, we had better be prepared not to cut across a fenced-off area. If we tell them to treat other people with respect, we had better treat other people with respect.

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