December 7, 2016

You ought to admire each other: Week 15

Now we're approaching winter break, I'll be bringing my younger daughter home for the rest of the month this Saturday. The older one will be home a week later and our nest will be full again. Additionally, we have family flying into town this year between Christmas and New Year's which means the house will be bustling with good will and cheer.

Something has happened in the past week that just really struck me, and it transcends the typical proud parent role that we cast ourselves into. Even when we don't always like each other, I've realized how deeply I admire my children and their peers. I admire the people they became.

There is so much negativity floating around about those spoiled millennials that I want to depart slightly from my personal empty nest journey and talk instead about the things I'm learning from this generation.

Gather at The Bean Chicago*First of all, our generation raised them. Yep, we're the ones who decided that they should all get trophies, we're the ones who let that attitude of everyone gets a prize sink in. But you know what? They see through it. They still know who is the best and they still have a work ethic. We didn't fool them with piles of cheap plastic awards and hollow accolades. We need to own our role in that impression. We left them a pile of trophies and overpriced tuition.

*Secondly, we may have stopped asking them to do chores or get part time jobs, but we started to expect them to be "well-rounded". We threw every possible activity to do in their direction, beginning with pre-school play groups and ending with things to put on your college application. Seriously? Our generation maybe did one activity, sports or music, or maybe something with our church group. But we didn't do all of it nor was it expected of us. The pressure we've placed on our next generation is astounding. And they have risen to the occasion. The book "Busier Than Ever!" is an excellent read why this isn't such a bad phenomenon.

*Third, they love their elders. They ask us for guidance and respect what we suggest. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the past presidential election, when their most popular candidate was
the "grandpa who gets them", an unlikely 74 year old man who paid attention to their concerns, Bernie Sanders. Now, this is not to suggest that we should adopt the political platform of Senator Sanders, at least not in its entirety. It does mean that if we take time to listen to their concerns, they will take time to heed our advice.

Enough of this "Them vs. Us". They are our children and we taught them everything they know. We have a duty and obligation as the people who pass the baton to them to pay attention instead of dismiss. We are required to care about what affects them. I admire them and I look forward to the day they have to take care of me, because I believe the future is in good hands. It's time for all of us to believe it.


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