Are you tired of seeing the SUVs with “Britney is #1!” painted in bright yellow letters on the windows? I’m sick of it. Britney is likely not “#1” and I’ve about had it with the entitled generation (Gen Y/Millennials). And we mostly did it. I’m not necessarily saying all of us did it, but it’s our generation (baby boomers?) that’s the most guilty. It seems someone (let’s hope we find them some day and hunt them down) decided it’s not nice to actually tell our kids if they’re being idiots, or under-achievers, or lazy or stupid — or a putz. Or worse. But, “Oh, we don’t want to insult their self-image.”
What self-image would that be? The one they invent showing they are the best at everything, that the world owes them a happy life, they are entitled to a good job, to be respected, well-liked, have or be pretty girlfriends and drive cool cars? That self-image? Which, in case you haven’t noticed, isn’t the least bit true, and sets them all up for a crash when confronted by the real world without a helicopter parent hovering over their every move.
A few years ago there was a serious move to outlaw using red ink when correcting grade school student papers. “It’s hard on their self-image [there are those words again…] and we only want to keep empowering them to feel good about themselves so they can succeed later in life.”
They even said, “Purple is a much less offensive color and doesn’t send the same message of failure that red sends.” It’s also the color associated with royalty. Ahem.
Failure? You bet it’s failure. They got it wrong, and someone in authority needs to tell them, and correct them and steer them in the right direction. That way, when trying to navigate in the real world, they don’t crash and burn when their boss has the audacity to actually tell them, “Hey, show up on time and do your job or you’ll get your ass fired.”
But that’s surely going to endanger their sense of self-worth, right?
Absolutely. And that’s why parents and teachers need to give a solid dose of the reality pill to kids today. And do you want to know why else they need to do that?
Because you have to police them.
And before anyone decides to sit down at his or her computer and send me hate mail accusing me of painting with a broad brush, let me put your minds to rest. Yes, I’m painting with a very broad brush — I’ve got several 5-gallon buckets (assorted colors) I’m dipping said brush into — there aren’t enough pages in this magazine to narrow the topic down to every possible angle of this subject. In fact, while I’m technically a baby boomer, I very much relate to the Gen X crowd. This is not an exact science, it’s an observation. So let’s get over any hurt feelings and read on…
How many times have you responded to a domestic dispute (family fight) to find an adult child still living at home, rent-free, with mom and dad? It turns out the dispute arose after mom or dad lost their cool because their freeloading kid wouldn’t do some small chore or whatever. The parents throw up their arms in despair and proclaim, “I just can’t control Johnnie!” Captain Obvious would say something like, “No duh. You’ve never had control over Johnnie because you never laid down the rules — and enforced ‘em!”
Johnnie’s lack of respect for rules is apparent when you get the call of the “kids” (Johnnie’s an adult and should stop acting like a kid) skateboarding in the supermarket parking lot, the mall, the school, etc. tearing up the benches, planters and everything else he uses for his rail-slides and tricks. When you contact him, Johnnie is usually directly beneath or in close proximity of the big sign that reads, “DON’T DO THAT!” He’ll want to debate the issue and complain how it’s not fair you’re harassing him while he’s just trying to have some fun.
Every time Johnnie is the victim of a traffic stop, the contact degrades into a debate over what he thinks are “bullshit laws” — he views most laws in this manner — and how he could do your job so much better. Of course, he’d actually have to go out and get a job, but that would require commitment and effort. Any of this sounding familiar? These all sound like such minor things cops do in the course of their day, but it’s these things that are taking up an inordinate amount of our time, keeping us from going after all those murderers and rapists.
Even we have kids like this. We need to take a look at our own children and ourselves to see if we’re part of the problem. We know how to tell the public “no, you can’t do/have that.” Let’s make sure we use those same principles at home, and with our children’s friends. Find ways to connect with this generation and be a positive role model for them, help them find/set goals to be productive members of society. Most importantly, remember it’s okay to tell them (or your own kids) when they’re failing. We always learn the most from our failures.
So don’t give up on them.
By Suzi Huntington