In my public presentations, I sometimes begin sentences with “I’m a member of the last generation …” and go on to describe some benefits we boomers enjoyed that today’s kids, by and large, do not enjoy. Some of these sentences include:
• “I’m a member of the last generation of American children who did not receive much adult attention.” As long as we were doing nothing wrong, our parents largely left us alone. They let us have the freedom to entertain ourselves, learn from our mistakes, and fight our own battles.
• “I’m a member of the last generation of American children who did their own homework.” And we did much better in school. Our mothers were not accountable for our schoolwork. They held us accountable. It’s a very simple equation, really: The more responsible one is, the better one does.
• “I’m a member of the last generation of American children whose parents, especially mothers, did not worry about us almost constantly.” It has got to be a burden on a child to be the object of lots of parental concern. I have to wonder if parental concern isn’t eventually self-fulfilling; as in, if you are concerned, then your child will give you something to be concerned about.
• “I’m a member of the last generation of American children to lie in the beds we made and stew in our own juices.” We were taught to take responsibility for our actions. When we did something wrong or failed to do our best in school, our parents told us we had no excuses. Life was not a soap opera, and we were not victims, which is why the next point is relevant.
• “I’m a member of the last generation of American children to leave home when children should leave home.” We left home as soon as possible because we were convinced we could make better lives for ourselves than our parents were willing to make for us. That’s a good thing for all.
The good news is that more and more of today’s parents are getting it. They’re raising their kids pretty much the same way kids were raised 50-plus years ago, with no cellphones, video games or junk food. Their kids eat what’s put in front of them, sleep in their own beds, do their own homework, entertain themselves, have no excuses, and see what a real marriage looks like.
They may be a small minority, but the way I see things, they’re the future.