December 30, 2008

What's With These Kids?!

I have five children, two belong to my husband and three are mine from a previous marriage. The two he owns lived with their mother across the country so I had limited access to them over the years. My husband and I have raised the three I brought to the mix. We've tried to raise them up with morals, good self-esteem and a sense of personal responsibility. We've found that the concepts we pushed mostly became apparent when they reached their mid-twenties.

It seems my son, our youngest, and his friends are in their own generation category. Let's call it the "I want it and I want it now!" generation. These young adults (and I use the term loosely) seem to think that working for what you want is a ridiculous waste of time and energy. Why do that when you can just whine, bully and manipulate your way into getting your way? I'm not sure where this attitude came from, as at least in my son's case he was raised in the same household as his sisters who do not behave like that, but the sense of entitlement without reciprocation is definitely rampant in his group.

Our children worked part-time while in high school, especially during the summer break. We encouraged them to save their money. When my son started working just before he turned 16 as a bag-boy (can we still use this term?), all of his friends thought he was being punished. No really - they actually thought we made him work because we wanted to abuse him. It seemed to them that they should not have to work at that tender age, yet they wanted to be treated as adults. That translated to "give me what I want but don't make me do anything for it."

Our lessons to him would have been a lot easier if only more of his friend's parents would have jumped on the bandwagon. I know - believe me I do - that letting them do what they want is much easier for the time being. The problem is you eventually pay for your lack of perseverance. All you have to do is let up one time and they run with it. If they stick their hand out and you place currency in it you will be expected to do so for until the end of time. If you throw your hands up in despair and say, "Do whatever you want!" you're doomed for eternity. If a child remembers nothing else you've taught them they will remember what buttons to push the next time they want something.

We are still hoping these kids will grow out of this phase, some of them have, but it has lasted a long time. I believe that time and reality will be their teachers now and the lessons will be much harder than the ones we tried to teach them. When you are a youngster and you don't have any money to buy something you want it's frustrating. When you can't pay the rent or buy gas or food as an adult the lesson is a bit more harsh. Nevertheless you will eventually learn to do what you have to do to get what you want and hopefully that won't include robbing gas stations.

It's painful as a parent to see your kids go through these trying times. I just wish they would learn from our experience and skip the harder lessons of life when they can. I'm betting my mother felt the same way, and trust me when I tell you that I thought I knew what was best for me. Not so much. I only wish she were still here so I could apologize to her every day for driving her nuts when I was a kid. Nothing like the reality of life to put things in proper perspective.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with your thoughts...

I also think that it keeps getting harder and harder to watch athletes and celebrities getting paid 10's of millions of dollars at such young ages. In the celebrities cases, I feel much of the time it is for little or no talent. I get frustrated and sick of it myself. Especially when they are interviewed and treated like everything they say is a pearl of wisdom. "I have worked my whole life for this" what are you 18? Call me back when you are 40.

I think you are right that being a parent is so hard. You cannot give in or that sets the bar at your breaking point or buttons to push.
I am trying myself not to pay attention to so much pop culture.It is easy to get caught up in the mindset of what you "deserve" because it seems like everyone else has it.
No matter the generation, I think each one will always say "What's With These Kids?!"