Family Dynamics

Doing the best we could..or should?

My husband and I now have two adult children whom we love dearly. For the most part, they are “launched” and “off the payroll” (one is graduating this May from college). We enjoy spending time with them but the reality is, we are not on the same page as their generation about a lot of things in life. And, to be honest, for the most part they only enjoy spending more than an hour with us when there’s food or a vacation involved! I get it. I certainly wasn’t interested in hanging out with my parents when I was in my 20s either.

But here’s the big difference in my mind: Most of us were not raised as entitled kids. So when the time came for us to go off on our own, there were no expectations that our parents would help us, or even be that involved in our daily lives. In college, we had a pay phone in our dorm and on Sunday nights, we would line up and call our parents dutifully-just to let them know all was well. When we graduated, our adult life began and we just went out and made it happen! If that meant working 3 jobs to pay the rent or sleeping on a friend’s couch, then that’s what we did. And, we learned how to be independent right away.

Now, things are SOOOO different: we text our kids on a regular basis-and if they need something, they assume we are always sitting by our cell phone (because..who isn’t!) just waiting to hear from them. ( However, if you ever try to actually CALL them, they will NEVER answer the phone!) The expectation for the most part is that we will help them if they don’t have a job or if their car breaks down or if they need gas money or if…well, the list goes on and on. But the big question is : WHY is this the expectation? The answer is simple: Because we’ve always tried to make life easier for them- giving them what they wanted, helping them navigate their way through school, attending every sporting event, musical concert or play they were ever in, and praising them for just participating .

We created entitled kids who have had cell phones since they were 13, (yes-we actually held out until 13 and boy, were we the WORST PARENTS EVER) cars when they were 18, lavish family vacations, beautiful homes, opportunities to play club sports across the country, and so much more.

And now, I read about how “lonely” this generation is because they only really communicate by text, they are slaves to social media and their lives revolve around what is happening on their phone. Stress seems to consume them-and I’m not sure why. Suicide rates have increased due to more frequent bouts of depression and anxiety. More kids are on anti-depressants and other medications because they just can’t cope. And I honestly don’t know how happy they really are..but they should be! They seem to have it all-way more than any of us ever had in our 20s-and maybe that’s the problem. And what about compassion? Are they so entitled that they can’t relate to those less fortunate? I really don’t know.

So my point is this: Even though our generation thought that we were doing the best we could to raise good kids who will be successful and adapt to life’s challenges, did we do what we should have to get them prepared for what’s ahead. The world is not the same place as when we were young, and it’s too early to tell how the next generation will succeed in the long term, but I hope they have a good community of friends that they can actually “talk” to when the going gets tough..

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