I am prone to pondering and writing. Maybe I have too much time on my hands. However, I’ve discovered that it is how I process and make sense of things in my world. It is how I determine what I think about things. Now I sit and ponder about the election. It is not the result of the election that has me thinking. I understand that. I’ve read a minutia of articles from both sides, explaining how they think we arrived with our new president-elect. If you haven’t read both sides, I encourage you to do so. It is enlightening and helps to understand the other perspective of the Vote, which I believe is imperative in finding a common ground in moving forward….together….united. It is rather the reaction to the result that has gotten me into a brown study.
I sit and wonder what we have done to our youth, with our parenting, with our teaching, with our examples, and with the world that we, as older adults, have helped to create. It is positively mind boggling to look at the protests and riots on college campuses with their safe spaces, exemption from exams, canceling classes, primal screams, and need for counseling about an election result that didn’t go their way. I saw it first hand last night as we drove by the UGA Arch in Athens. I honestly can’t remember a scenario of this ever happening before, and I just voted in my eleventh presidential election. I understand the disappointment of your choice of candidate not winning an election, because I have felt that in about half of my voting history as well. It hurts! It is kinda like that Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grief model. I also understand the right to peaceful protest about issues of concern. But this is on a different level and some are not so peaceful. I mean really people, how many times in your life have you been dealt a blow that you didn’t want or choose??? This is not another one of those back in my day rants or if they were my child…. In all honesty, we can’t really totally blame them, because we need to own our piece of this pie. We helped to make them who they are.
A few months before the election, I heard a speaker on the topic of our younger generations….the newest one is called iY which are those born after 1990, which would include the collegiates. These are the ones who have grown up in the iWorld of iTunes, iPods, iPhones, and iPads. They have never known a day without the Internet. There is good news and bad news inherent in this as you may well imagine. Technology offers many conveniences their parents and grandparents never enjoyed. They can get information faster and easier than ever before. The bad news is that the iWorld presents us with new challenges. The challenges of teaching the value of hard work and delayed gratification are greater today. Factor into that so much of what the youth believe about themselves and about the world is the result of social media….which includes the thoughts of other young minds exactly like themselves.
Dr. Tim Elmore, president of Growing Leaders, the speaker I referenced, contends that we adults have created a world that is full of Speed, Convenience, Entertainment, Nurture, and Entitlement which leads the iY’ers to the natural assumptions that flow from that world. Slow is bad, Hard is bad, Boring is bad, Risk is bad, and Labor is bad. Ironically all the things on the assumption list are necessary to develop maturity. These are challenges that help one to grow into a good adult, a good spouse, a good parent, a good employee, and a good employer. Many life skills that use to develop naturally have begun to atrophy in today’s iWorld. It makes perfect sense really if you really think about it. We, a collective WE, have created this landscape with our parenting, teaching, leadership, inventions, and example etc. It was such a fascinating concept that I am now reading his book. 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid http://amzn.to/2fut3IY Timely, I might add.
Parenting, is after all, a new world we are thrust into, for the most part, without directions. I am convinced that most parents do the best that they can and are motivated by wanting a better world for their children than they had. I know we did. So believe me when I say, I am not throwing stones from my glass house in sharing some of things that may have contributed to what we are now experiencing. I stand guilty both as a parent and as a teacher. Some of these things seemed really loving and caring in the short term, but disastrous in the long game. I am not saying that there aren’t some parents out there that sidestepped all these issues with their wisdom. Well done you! However, according to Dr. Elmore, as a vast majority of parents (or teachers) :
- We won’t let them fail. When we remove the possibility of failure, we dilute their motivation to excel.
- We prioritize being happy. When happiness is the goal instead of a by-product, it is elusive and disappointing.
- We remove consequences. When we remove consequences, we fail to prepare them for the future.
- We won’t let them struggle or fight. When we eliminate the struggle, kids are conditioned to give up without trying.
- We give them what they should earn. When we give them too much, they don’t learn the art of working and waiting.
- We praise the wrong things. When we affirm looks or smarts instead of virtues, their values become skewed.
- We value removing pain. When we take away pain, their ability to endure hardship or loss atrophies.
- We do it for them. When we do things for kids that they can do themselves, they become lazy and unmotivated to grow.
- We prepare the path for the child instead of the child for the path. When we prepare the path for our youth, childhoods work fine, but their adulthood not so much.
So, just as our new President will have his work cut out for him in building a connective tissue to repair a divided Nation, WE as parents, grandparents, teachers, college professors, and mentors have ours as well, to help develop young people who will grow into good citizens, spouses, parents, employees, and employers. This is NOT an effort to influence how they should think, but rather to help them understand how to respond and live in a world that is not all about them. They are on a path with others, and not the other way around. As many have said, it is not about the one man or woman in the White House that will direct the ship upon which we sail. It is all of US. And, I think that we need to own our piece of this pie. Food for thought!