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A thought has been rattling around in my head for years, and I have to get it out. I was complaining to a friend about how difficult it was to work with Millennials and she said, “We’re to blame. We raised them!” She’s right and boy, did we mess up!

In my generation, we were taught social manners; if we failed a grade in school, we were held back; social mores were pretty strict; and we were taught to mind adults and people in authority. Some of us felt stifled and confined in the seemingly rigid system. That’s part of the reason there was so much rebellion back in my young days.

When my kids were in elementary school, the big push was giving kids high self-esteem. Everything centered around that. In school, kids weren’t held back because of bad grades, everyone got prizes for trying (even if they didn’t try their best), everybody had to feel good about everything, punishments weren’t handed out because it would bring them down, and so on. The movement of I’m-okay-you’re-okay began and new moralities began to emerge. And we sat there and let them do it.

What did we get out of that? Kids who never learned life isn’t fair; every life has disappointments in it, but you get over it; you don’t always get your way; if you want something you have work for it; if you don’t know something, learn it on your own; and so on. In other words, we got spoiled kids.

Through time, those kids grew up, married, and had kids. The only parenting techniques they knew were giving kids what they want so they’re not disappointed, letting them do whatever they want since boundaries stifle creativity, and letting them behave and say whatever they wanted no matter what others told them or who it hurts. It’s basically letting kids raise themselves. This never turns out well.

And that gets us to today. The cumulative effects of our childrearing philosophies has changed drastically in my lifetime and consequently, drastically changed our society. We’ve moved from a people who cared about each other, were kind to each other, and worked hard to have more than our parents. We had higher morals, ethics, and filters on what we said to each other. Now, people feel free to shame and hurt others with their words/writings, deviant behavior is condoned, the individual is more important than the whole, and no one can tell you what to do.

It started with my generation and I’m sad about that. Our desire to break free of our parents’ strict rules made us lazy, and we let others decide what to teach our children. We took the easy way and made things more difficult. The young people don’t like being told what to do (ever seen the police shoot someone who was complying with their orders?), like to think their opinion about everyone and everything is valued (some old people are like that too), and good morals are unworthy of their time.

What can we do? It’s like Pandora’s box; there’s no going back. My generation messed up. Good, hard-working people are still out there, but they are becoming a minority. More and more people expect everything for nothing. The new generation will have to decide how they want to live and what level of chaos they will accept. Good luck to them. For me, I’m old enough to miss the old days.

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