I can’t count the number of times over the past year I’ve heard someone start a sentence with “the younger generation today” or “today’s kids” followed by something negative. They don’t want to
work. They’re lazy. They have short attention spans. They’re all about immediate gratification. Each time it’s so jarring, it feels like a slap in the face. Come on, boomers, didn’t we promise not to become our parents? And here we are channeling them! In 2019 I’d like to suggest we stop judging and start appreciating what our kids and grandkids are up against in this crazy, ridiculously messed up world. Let’s take responsibility for the world we’re handing to them. Here’s why we should do that:
- These “kids” are our kids or our grandkids, depending on how old we are. We raised them. Don’t we have some responsibility for how they turned out?
- It’s an age-based stereotype and we’re against stereotyping entire groups of people because of a few bad apples, aren’t we? We don’t believe in racism and sexism, but it’s okay to call out an entire generation based on age? Some kids are bad. Some are good. Just like old people and everyone in between.
- Most importantly, it’s simply not true.
That’s why these statements aggravates me so much. When someone says kids today are this or that, I think of my own kids. One is a married stay-at-home mom who manages to raise her family on one salary so she can be a mother to her kids. She and her husband, who’s a veteran, are college-educated homeowners. My son and his wife bought their first home when she was twenty-two. He has an excellent, good-paying job because he’s self-taught in his field. Both he and his wife work hard for what they have.
They’re my kids so naturally I’m proud of them, some would say. But I look around and I see many such “younger generation” kids. At my church, I see a couple whose kids include a physical therapist, a social worker, and an engineering student who’s taking off a year from his career path for a ministry opportunity. Another couple raised a lawyer and an engineer. One couple’s daughter is a music worship minister. Another couple has a son who raised the money himself to go on a mission trip to the far east. Their daughter just graduated from college with honors with a double major. These kids work hard to make their dreams come true in an age where education is astronomically expensive and financial aid hard to come by.
The comment irritates me even more when I think about the world my kids and grandkids are inheriting. These kids are growing up post-911. Most don’t remember what it was like to fly before you had to take your shoes and belt off before you boarded the plane. They’re growing up in an era where they aren’t safe at school and or at church. And they still have ideals. They still care. They still want to make a difference. Look at the kids who survived the Parkland High School shooting. They’re fighting back as activists through the system that has failed to keep them safe. I have no interest in arguing gun control with anyone. I’m only relaying an end result of these horrific seemingly everyday occurrences. These kids haven’t given up even in the face of terrible tragedy.
I feel a deep sense of regret when I think of the legacy we’re leaving future generations in the government arena. Our political system in the United States is in shambles. We no longer understand the meaning of civil discourse, bipartisanship, or diplomacy. We think whoever shouts the loudest and spits on the most people wins. That’s some example we’re setting for “today’s kids.”
Our generation figured out how to make everything “easier” for everyone to the point that we have a disposable world. So disposable that there are floating garbage dumps in the ocean full of plastic. Our kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids must figure out how to dispose of the disposables. They have to deal with the impact of our lifestyles on the
environment. Everyday more species disappear from the earth. Rhinos, mountain gorillas, elephants, giraffes—animals we take for granted may never be seen by our great-grandchildren. We leave that to our kids to figure out.Whatever we think about climate change—another topic I do not wish to debate—we know that the world is getting warming. Our children and their children will have to deal with changing weather patterns and melting arctic glaciers.
Our children live in a world that our grandparents could not have imagined. Families look different. It used to be men and women who would get married and have children. That has changed. I’m not angling for a discussion of “good and bad” or “right or wrong” here. This is a fact. It would be mind-boggling for our great-grandparents to know that it is likely that our grandchildren will have more than two genders from which to choose when they fill out forms later in their lives.
Our kids are navigating a vastly different world than we did as high school or college-age kids. We’re in no position to judge. We don’t want to recycle. It’s too much trouble. We don’t want to vote. Our vote doesn’t count. We don’t want to go to church. Sunday’s our only day to sleep in. We don’t want to have family dinners. We don’t have time. We don’t want to have family game night. “The Bachelor” is on TV. But somehow we get satisfaction from judging the kids who are a product of our choices.
A new year is around the corner. I humbly suggest that we resolve in 2019 to stop judging the younger generation and appreciate how creative they are, how idealistic, how compassionate, how tough, how smart, and how wonderful they are. They have to be in order to live in the world we’re leaving them. Let’s resolve in the time we have left on this earth to work together with them to make this a better place for the kids of tomorrow.
Tell me about the kids in your life who are doing great things in the comments below. Let’s celebrate them!