Excuses Stop Here

So I was cruising through the Sunday paper as I was drinking my coffee – a real live paper newspaper – and I came across a title that caught my eye “Justin Bieber is a jerk, and his lawyer says it’s your fault.”  (Just to give fair credit, the author is Leonard Pitts, Jr.)


I’m not a fan of the Biebs, but as a middle school teacher, I have several young ladies who seriously believe that they are going to grow up and marry this dude.  They are also counting on him actually growing up.  That, in itself, is an interesting thought.

The op/ed article dives in to the rationale of the lawyer for the Biebs, saying that celebrity worship and the need to destroy those who are successful are at fault for his client’s behavior, both during his deposition and just lately in general.  Pitts asserts that others have become famous very young, and have not taken the same road as the Biebs.  He states, “What we see in Bieber, then, seems to say less about celebrity than about one of its unfortunate byproducts: entitlement.  Has anyone ever held this kid accountable for anything?”  He goes on to list some of the excuses made for this guy and his bad behavior made by people who really have no stake in his life, and ends with this interesting note, “So if people really want to help this kid, the answer is simple:  Stop making excuses for him.” 

Biebs is a celebrity version of what so many people in my field deal with on a day to day basis:  entitlement, no accountability, excuses. 

“My student did not do this assignment, BUT (insert excuse here).”

Or if I correct a student for talking or misbehavior, I get, “But I was just (insert excuse here).”


It is really pretty simple to me.  If a student is not in eminent danger, having a medical emergency, or on fire, there is really no justifiable reason for that person to be talking during instruction.  Odds are, that student will ask a number of questions that I just answered.  And I am not answering them.  Look in the instructions. 

And I do realize that sometimes things happen and assignments do net get completed.  I get that.  It is why we give grace and drop the lowest daily grade.  There is no assignment in my room that a student cannot start in class, work on in class, or ask questions about in class; so not having anything completed is clearly not acceptable.  And the student should be accountable for that.   

I’ve even had parents say to me about other teachers that it is perfectly okay that a child did not turn in an assignment because, “That teacher hates everyone anyways.”  Perfect – send your kid the message that it is okay to not do your best in any situation where someone does not like you. 

Entitlement.  No accountability.  Excuses. 

After discussing Bieber’s entitled attitude at his deposition, Pitts follows with, “If you are treated that way, there’s a good chance that you will behave that way.  Bieber’s deposition is Exhibit A.” 

It is a very frightening thing to me that we could have an entire generation of Biebs on the way.  Arrogant and disrespectful because no one has ever taught them to be humble and take responsibility.  Entitled to everything yet accountable to no one. 

For the love…can we take steps to stop this right now? 

Our children are just that – children.  They are not perfect.  They will make mistakes.  That is part of the learning process.  It is not up to any of us to justify those mistakes away, but to teach our children how to do better the next time.  And it is a good thing to let them know when a behavior does not measure up and why.  Would we ever let our child touch a hot stove?  Of course not!  It would hurt them.  And we tell them “Don’t touch that stove!  It is hot and will burn you!”  And yes, there is the abbreviated version for emergencies and toddlers that still gets the message across. 

But in the same way, are we not hurting our children be allowing them to do things that we clearly know are wrong, and then making excuses and justifying it away? 

Can you imagine what will happen when you are no longer able to justify your child’s behavior or make excuses to get him or her out of trouble? 

Then what? 

Work for it.  Be accountable.  No excuses. 

Is this such a bad set of ideals to hand to the next generation? 

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