I have a good chuckle each time I replay the words to that parody about millennials. The one sung by a human beat box singing to the tune of Life Goes On. As entertaining and relatable as the lyrics may be, it misses one critical point, which is in fact the irony of it all. The general discussions and criticisms about millennials are most often voiced by the generation of adults that came before them. So I wondered that if the adults are complaining about the next generation, who raised these millennials to be such dramatic and entitled members of society? Given the general level of irresponsible behaviour among millennials, they obviously couldn’t have raised themselves.
It’s a common failing. We blame society for what is wrong with the world around us, but abdicate our responsibility to and participation in that very same society. We blame corruption for the misery in the country but abdicate responsibility for our contribution towards it when we dodge taxes or pay bribes to get out of speeding fines. And so it is with the millennial problem. The same adults that failed as parents are now ready to point out what is wrong with the generation that they failed, while feigning innocence in the process.
Far too often I hear adults mention how they are trying to give their children everything that the adults didn’t have while growing up. They don’t want their children to struggle the way that they (the adults) did. They despise their trials in life as if it was a curse while neglecting to notice that growth and strength of character is not developed in times of ease. This selfish indulgence by adults has robbed an entire generation of critical character building experiences by trying to protect them from life itself.
The greatest mistake you can make as a parent is to convince yourself that you’re raising children. You’re not. You’re raising adults. Unfortunately we have too many insecure parents who want to be popular with their kids rather than making the tough decisions that will guide them instead. Because they don’t have to be the bad cop, they assume that they’re doing a good job, while raising kids that are so fragile that not having an electronic device or enough online privileges sends their kids into a depressed state.
Every tantrum thrown by a kid has a diagnosis of a mental disorder attached to it. Not only does this resign the remedy to dangerous and unnecessary medication, but it gives the parents a get-out-of-jail-free card by suggesting that the problem is not related to environment, discipline, or healthy boundaries. Adults that refuse to age gracefully because they’re afraid of letting go of their youth do not take their rightful place as adults, guides, mentors, and most importantly parents in the home, and in society. What this means is that there is a vacuum of leadership and role models that see egomaniacs taking office to lead nations, and children having to relearn the lessons of the effects of absent parents, while having parents around. Not only is it an avoidable burden, it erodes the social structures that are needed for harmonious and wholesome living.
However, such harmony and wholesomeness is what everyone desires, but only a few are willing to actively pursue. Everyone feels entitled to peace and comfort, but no one wants to create the environment or circumstances needed for it. There is an app for everything, and an outsourced service provider to take care of what the apps can’t do. And somewhere in between there is a lost generation being raised to believe that selfish needs are justified and duty is only reciprocal if there is something in it for you.
We’ve razed adults from the horizon and replaced them with entitled brats in adult bodies. They’ve tainted the formative years and then spend their lives trying to undo the damage that becomes evident in the troubled teen years of their children’s lives. That is, for those that stick around and don’t see parenting as optional. Unfortunately it is accepted as quite the norm for fathers or mothers, or both to abdicate responsibility knowing that there is a grandparent or a daycare service that will take care of the responsibility instead. The selfishness carries a nauseating stench that will linger long into the next generation who will have to figure out effective parenting by themselves, or from what little recollections they may have of the substitute adults that raised them.
Raise adults. Not children. The growing process for children takes care of itself. They didn’t need to be taught how to crawl or walk, or talk. They followed your example because it was set through active engagement, and not through dishing out instructions and walking away. The same is true for self-respect, responsibility, compassion, sincerity, resilience, tenacity, and all those other wonderful traits that are sorely lacking in the world as we are experiencing it today. Children do not need lessons on how to have fun, or how to party. They just need absent parents to figure that out without any boundaries.
Stop trying to live a perpetual childhood for the rest of your life. No matter how young you feel inside, you will not delay the aging process, or the inevitability of death. What you will achieve though, when chasing such superficial and childish goals like trying to look 18 when you’re 30, or behaving like a student when you’re having a boys’ night out when you’re 40, is abandoning your responsibility to a child that will see your juvenile behaviour as acceptable, and will struggle to figure out why establishing a healthy relationship or fulfilling social contracts is so difficult. Remember that point about how they don’t need to be taught how to party? Well, when they hit the lows because of their ineptitude at maintaining healthy relationships, they will once again resort to unhealthy and reckless behaviour that they saw from their wayward parents who were trying to be cool instead of passing on a baton that was worth holding on to.
Don’t fail your children because you insist on trying to lick the bottom of the cup of youth. It’s pathetic. And entirely unfulfilling. There is a beauty and a peace that is achieved in living a full life. Not full of yourself, but full of the beauty of the lives that you have touched, especially the lives of your children.
Don’t raise children. Raise adults. The world has enough misguided kids already.