Life can be hard and frequently challenging. Despite this, we are raising our children to be wimps who lack that heart-driven grit that makes things happen. I hope I didn’t just offend you, but the truth is sometimes hard to hear.
The reality is that our children are quite wimpy compared to our parents and grandparents. Is every child a wimp? Or course not! But, most are, and the research supports this.
There are a few reasons for this. Most kids today show limited initiative if not led step by step, and demonstrate little staying power in the face of adversity. They give up too easily! The idea of sacrifice for others, or for any cause, is a foreign concept. They seek instant gratification, expect magnanimous rewards with minimal effort, and once out of college and in their first job, they expect to be the boss by the end of year one.
Childhood, adolescent and young adult anxiety is escalating year by year. Our culture encourages finding relief for anxiety in the most rapid manner possible, rather than seeking to build strength and resilience in moving though the anxious moment. Thus, dependence on pharmaceuticals continues to increase year after year, which doesn’t build healthy habits. Instead of teaching our youth to build the muscle of confidence and resilience, we are training them to seek ease or relief from stress.
What Price Is Paid?
The price paid is severe, as reality will not be kind to a wimp. The rules for success will not bend to accommodate the sensitive and the unprepared. These children will inevitably feel as if life is not giving them the deal they deserve; that more should come their way with little effort. Why? Because we train them to think this way.
As some millennials now enter the work force, employers and consumers see the effects of these false lessons. They quit the moment things don’t go their way, expect to check their cell phone any time they want and can’t comprehend digging into goals that are years away. Companies are scrambling to set up training programs to prepare these millennials for the reality of work, with limited success.
Who Do We Blame?
Do we blame the youth? No, this is not their fault. I see these amazing, intelligent and capable adolescents struggling in a world where we have adopted family habits that destroy their drive, their sense of confidence and their resilience. We consistently protect them from the consequences of their choices, and expect them to learn from our lectures rather than from reality, which fails…repeatedly. It’s not their fault that they have not been prepared for reality.
So perhaps we should blame you, mom and dad? No, it’s not your fault either. You have been exposed to an inconceivable amount of change, as progress and information comes at you at light speed. And, much of this information is simply false, based on trends with little substance or proven research. Yet, it’s packaged in bright lights, with much public attention and energy…so who wouldn’t believe it?
And then, there is the pace of life, and the direction that the herd is moving. More sports, more coaching, more private lessons and more of everything…it’s exhausting. Yet, the entire herd seems to be moving in that direction, making it genuinely hard to slow down, take pause, and figure out how to prepare your children for reality. Every minute is filled with moving here and there. The time to sort this out doesn’t seem to exist.
So, do we blame our society or our culture or our leaders? The media? The Internet, with endless blogs and opinions? No.
Let’s Abandon Blame & Focus on Preparation for Reality
The key is that we must turn our attention away from factors that are beyond our reach, and turn toward those within our immediate grasp. Where do we have the power to make a difference? For most, this comes with a long, hard look in the mirror and a realization that you are the force shaping your children’s destiny. It doesn’t matter what has shaped your view up to this point. It only matters whether this perspective is generating strength, confidence and resilience in your children. If not, then it’s time for change. In next week’s article, I will offer my top five shifts that you can make immediately to shape a healthier, stronger and more resilient family.