Below is an excerpt from CNN commentator Jack Cafferty's new book, "Now or Never." Jack appears daily in "The Situation Room" on CNN from 4 to 7 p.m. ET.
In his new book, "Now or Never," Jack Cafferty says parenting might be on the decline more than schools are.
I never presumed to have any more answers about being a parent than anybody else.
There are no perfect parents, perfect kids, perfect families -- only degrees of dysfunction.
You get up in the morning and do the best you can. At the end of the day you say, "Okay, that wasn't so bad, let's try it again tomorrow." Some of my instincts were pretty good and some of them were awful.
I did stay engaged and didn't say to hell with being a father when my first marriage ended. With the younger girls, I eventually made the choice to clean up my alcoholism before I pushed things to the point of no return. But most of the credit does to my second wife Carol; to the girls; and to God Almighty. Ultimately, I've just been very fortunate.
I don't know the status of parenting in America. But I know a little about the status of education in America. Parents' growing inability to impose manners and limits on their kids when the kids are in school is reflected in record dropout rates, as well as teen drug and alcohol abuse, teen sex, and unwed pregnancies. Maybe it's parenting that's on the decline, more than the schools. Watch Jack Cafferty talk about "Now or Never" in The Situation Room" »
Exhibit A: My wife and I have just been seated for dinner when the maitre d' walks over and seats a young family at the table next to us and the kids start carrying on like orangutans on a leash.
The parents are going, "Timmy, that's not nice, don't throw your food, stop stuffing your mashed potatoes up your nose." Are mom and dad having fun yet, picking food up off the floor, apologizing to people like us, and wiping food flung across the table off their faces?
Some parents still have this attitude that their kids are too special to be burdened by discipline. And the rest of us are supposed to put up with their little mutants. That attitude really pisses me off.
I hate to break it to them, but the kids aren't special, and I don't have to put up with their behavior. If you can't control your obnoxious little brats, leave them home.
They don't belong out in public annoying other people, period. I don't remember a generation of kids ever so indulged and enabled to behave so badly. What's going on?
I remember as a kid I was expected to behave myself out in public or suffer the wrath of one very angry father. And of all the things that used to piss him off, those expectations didn't seem unreasonable. Something's gone terribly wrong here. My guess is it has to do with the breakdown of authority, the collapse of strong family structure, and the abdication of parental responsibility, dictated in part by the necessity that both parents work.
Plus, we have a whole generation of Baby Boomers who are too busy feeling entitled to prolong their own self-indulgent, self-absorbed adolescences to rein in their own kids.
Just a theory.