I have to weigh in on the adage that, “Worrying about the youth of a generation, is the first sign of age.” Its true. I am officially worried about the next generation, my kids generation, and the one right behind them, that are teenagers now. With that logic in hand if things don’t change in the way we raise our kids I’m worried about the wee ones too. Let me clarify: I have two grown kids(one daughter) and my best friend, The Poet In My Heart, has two young adult daughters approaching or at college level. The Poet in My Heart and I speak almost daily about life, and our kids are a big topic. After all who are you going to share all the great accomplishments, and all the 'WTF? Were they thinking moments’, if not with your best friend? And as a good friend I listen and try to give advice as if they were my own daughters. And then I secretly am glad that my daughter hasn’t made the same mistakes. But wait for it. She’s not perfect and has recently given me pause not so much in her decisions or the way she goes about them, but in her attitude.
And I realize that it's the attitude of the younger generations that is really pissing me off. It's a privileged, white, American, spoiled attitude that the world actually owes them something. My bestie Poet, says, ‘My kids too and they are Mexican’. LOL so it’s not so much the race I’m pointing a finger at but the stereotype of the way that race, my race, raised our kids. What really floors me is I gave up so much as a single parent to make sure she and her brother, had everything they needed. And so that they would have a similar lifestyle to their peers. Not exactly like their peers. I wouldn’t have spoiled them with material things if I could have afforded it, but sometimes I was able to perform a miracle for Christmas morning. So I wonder, if she didn’t learn this by example, where did she learn this?
And I find myself blaming her peers and the media. The entertainment they watch that I don’t have the time to watch. But then I remember that’s what my parents blamed when they said the same thing about my generation. The late seventies and early eighties brat pack generation, the Me generation, right after the boomers. We were spoiled, white, privileged, American kids too. We were Punks and Rockers instead of Hipsters and Millennium’s but they who grew up in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s could only shake their heads at our lack of manners, and respect for our elders. And our attitude! That our generation would change the world without any hard work attached to that statement. Just a common belief that we would never sell out! Sitting around smoking pot and drinking and having sex before sex could kill you, believing that our generation would sober up enough to stop the madness. Shades of the 60’s there too. We didn’t do that, anymore than the 60’s kids did.
Now my kids are much straighter than I was at their ages, but some of my friends kids aren’t, and yet they all seem to have the same “fuck you its all about me” attitude as the Me generation did and Generation X. Thats all of you like me in your 40’s or 50’s now. WTF did we do wrong? Did we give them too much? Did we stop spanking? Did we give them awards just for showing up? Did we let everyone play ball or act in a play just because some kid with no talent for that cried to do it? Instead of the pride and confidence it was supposed to give them, like when you actually audition for a play and nail it, or try out for a team and get chosen, or practice so hard that you get first chair in orchestra. Did we try so hard to make all our kids equal that we took away all their individuality, and now we have not one but two generations of people with their hands out looking for an award just because they show up, not because they did their best. They act like the world owes them something when they don’t read the fine print they sign and then wonder why they are in the mess they are in. They act like its everyone else’s fault when a decision they made doesn’t work. And the really scary thing to me is that I’ve seen this across all income brackets. And I’ve heard the adult temper tantrums and the giving up verbiage. That kind emotional blackmail, to a parent is some of the harshest words you can utter. We have no idea if you are being dramatic, like with your girlfriends, or if you are really about ready to cash it all in over something as silly as…well everything is silly if it is put against your life, isn’t it? Or your sanity?
I just don’t get it. And my mom said the same thing about us. And I understand now why. We aren’t meant to understand the younger generation. Oh we may like some of their music or books or movies or fashion, but we really don’t ‘get it’. And we never will. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen and try to guide them, but we can’t be expected to fix it. Because we don’t get how they got there in the first place, and it teaches nothing when a parent ‘fixes’ every mistake for a child, does it? No matter how old that child is, at some point you have to say, “Well I’m here if you need to talk and I know you will find a way to work this out. I love you.” And boy does their face change when you stand tall. And so does theirs when they find a way, stand tall themselves and work it out.