It wasn’t enough that First Lady Michelle Obama wanted to redesign public school cafeteria food—a plan which caused a massive drop in cafeteria consumption across the nation—she is now prompting parents to change their communication style to get in line with the “short and sweet” communication patterns of their teenagers.
Michelle Obama offered advice which includes tossing proper grammar and punctuation, frequent use of emojis and focus on keeping content “raw and authentic.”
Imagine a simple request, such as, “You were supposed to be home by 9:00 PM. Where are you and why aren’t you home?” In Michelle Obama’s world that would be, “Past 9 what up homey.”
Michelle Obama went on to lecture us silly adults that “email is dead.”
Ironically, Michelle Obama offered these morsels of wisdom while rolling out a new initiative aimed at encouraging America’s kids to value higher education.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised, even though rather silly, since her own kids are now teenagers; yet should we continue to cater to kids’ poor communication patterns, especially when discussing college and higher education? How will their college professors respond (in 140 characters no doubt) when those same kids text them, “report aint gonna make it…doh (face slap emoji.)”
“Don’t make the mistake of responding to a text using full sentences with proper grammar and punctuation,” Mrs. Obama said at the launch of her new “Better Make Room” initiative. “If you really want to get their attention, use symbols, little symbols. There’s the smiley face, the angry face, and all the other faces that can show any emotion that you may be feeling.”
God help us.
As much as this article might seem like some satirical exaggeration from my natural bias against Mrs. Obama, it is sadly a word-for-word portrayal of her actual words at the White House.
Let’s keep this in perspective; other first ladies set values and standards for their children, and by extension the children of the nation, not based on current trends, but on heartfelt values.
First Lady Laura Bush, suggested, “Young people need us in their lives,” Mrs. Bush told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2014. “They need to know they are valued, that somebody believes in them and that their success matters. The problems are great, but greater still is our love for our children.” She also advised that that parents should, “Play outside with your kids and then read to them.”
Jackie Kennedy valued writing thank you notes, and shared that good habit with her children, making sure they immediately sent out proper notes after they received gifts or kindnesses from others. “If you bungle raising your children,” she once said, “I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”
Eleanor Roosevelt tackled exploring the world when she spoke about children. “I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”
Sadly, Mrs. Obama, on the other hand, tried to equate how all kids react based on her own experience with her teenage daughters.
“They usually stop listening to us after about six seconds,” she said. “Their eyes just glaze over as we blather on and on. We think we’re getting to them, but they’ve shut us off minutes ago.”
She wants us to believe that kids “want content that’s authentic and raw — nothing polished, nothing packaged.” What a wonderful example to send the leaders of tomorrow off to college with.
Kids are going to do what kids are going to do; we can’t change that; yet they expect parents to define rules that they can always fall back on. It’s difficult enough to teach children how to speak properly, write correctly and act appropriately without the first lady of the nation telling us to go with the flow. We try to instill the values we learned from our parents while Michelle Obama would prefer we just adapt to the speed and casualness of social media.
The media sheet for Mrs. Obama’s education initiative reads: “That is why, as part of her Reach Higher initiative, the First Lady is announcing a new public awareness campaign, Better Make Room, to target Generation Z, or young people ages 14-19, to celebrate education, change the national conversation, and reach students directly where they are and give them a space to create content while also navigating the college-going process.”
Mrs. Obama says teens would rather text than have a conversation, but nothing good comes from parents removing two-way communication from their parental duties and some conversations demand actual talk. If Michelle Obama has her way, the concept of a heart-to-heart will join punctuation on the list of outdated notions.
Mrs. Obama’s campaign calls on teens to use social media sites such as Vine, a partner in the initiative, as well as Twitter and Instagram to show off the accomplishments of their peers.
Though Michelle Obama doesn’t even understand how many of these social sites work, or the value of using them to our children, she doesn’t mind pushing it out to the parents of America as gospel.
“The truth is, I probably won’t understand everything we’re doing with this campaign and neither will many of you. But that’s OK — we’re old.”