Where A Generation Went Wrong…
Sometimes it seems like the generation gap is bigger than it’s ever been.
If you pay attention to social media, the news, or popular articles, you’ve probably seen the trash talking from Millennials about Baby Boomers, or the lists of the many industries the Millennials have killed.
And that’s not even taking into consideration the alienation and disenchantment that Gen X feels…
Or the nihilistic attitudes that popular culture would have you believe that Gen Z is bringing to the party.
With All Of This Division, You Might Wonder…
Is this how it’s always been? And if not, what’s causing the stark divides between ages and generations?
And more importantly, can we recover from this at all, or are we doomed to live in a time where groups are fractured based on birthdates?
In truth, frustrations with younger generations is nothing new. Throughout history, many people in the older generations have always believed they had it harder, or that the new generation was in some way inferior.
But there is something new about this upcoming generation. And it’s not good…
Instead of a run-of-the-mill generational gap, we’re facing a crisis of people who are emerging into the age of adulthood…
Without actually having any of the skills or emotional fortitude it takes to be an adult.
Recently, I sat down with Jonathan Haidt. He’s a social psychologist, professor, and author of books such as The Coddling of the American Mind.
His main areas of study include the psychology of morality and moral emotions, and with years of research and practice under his belt, he’s a trusted expert in his field.
Jonathan’s Take On The New Generation Coming Up Is This:
The Millennial generation (and then Gen Z behind them) struggle because they weren’t exposed to true difficulties in life.
The older generations parented them differently than any prior generation, and the end results aren’t good.
You see, shortly after the first reports came in of children being abducted by strangers somewhere in the early 1980s, parents stopped giving their children the autonomy to just be kids outside in the free world…
And while that kept them safe from the tiny percentage of a chance that they’d be abducted, it also stifled their ability to think independently in the face of harm and their desire to accomplish things on their own if no one was watching.
Somewhere in this rush to protect our kids from the dangers shown on the evening news, we began to hamstring them inadvertently, too.
Add to that the fact that a digital world was just opening up for them, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
With stiff rules about what kids could do in the real, analog world, and a no-holds barred approach to the new world of the internet, it only makes sense that these kids would face entirely unanticipated new challenges…
And anyone over the age of 40 wouldn’t have the perspective it takes to predict or prepare kids to deal with these challenges, so the kids felt alone with their problems on top of everything else.
Now we’re beginning to see the aftermath of this particular style of parenting.
Legal adults who grew up secluded indoors with little other than the internet to entertain them struggle with social skills, independent problem solving, and so-called “adulting”…
And instead of feeling free or unburdened by an existence where everything is provided to them and every whim is catered to…
They’re more unhappy than ever.
How do we turn this around? How do we help today’s young adults and then the generations beyond them to thrive once again?
Jonathan’s answer is refreshingly simple.
We need to offer our kids a safety net at home AND the freedom to go out into the world and explore.
Instead of believing the fear-mongering of the nightly news, we need to let kids and young adults go out and make mistakes, and we need to let them try to solve those mistakes on their own.
“Oh, but what about abductions? No one wants their child to be harmed or kidnapped!” you might think…
But the truth is that stranger abductions and violent crime are at their lowest in a very long time. In fact, the violent crime rate in the USA peaked in 1991 and it’s been decreasing ever since.
So this whole time we’ve been keeping our kids indoors to make sure they’re safe…
The Western world’s actually been getting safer and safer.
We’re worrying about an artificially dangerous outside world…
And it’s time to stop worrying and start living.
These changes won’t happen overnight. It’ll take time to trust in our kids’ abilities and to let our kids learn to trust themselves.
There will be times when they stumble and mess up, and instead of rushing in to solve their problems…
We need to let them dust themselves off and stand on their own two feet.
If you have adult children, you might wonder how it’s even possible to make changes like these. After all, it’s simple when your toddler gets a skinned knee and you let them recover from it themselves, but not so easy when your 21 year old gets a bad grade on a midterm, or when your 27 year old is about to miss a car payment, right?
Wrong. It’s Just As Simple And Just As Necessary
Try this: The next time your kid – big or small – comes to you with a problem…
Instead of giving them a quick answer or offering to pay their way out of it, just say…
“I’m sorry to hear about that – what are you going to do about it?”
When they have a solution, be willing to listen…
And then sit back and watch as they fix problems for themselves. Progress will be slow, but it will happen.
There’s no need to be emotional about it. Just stay matter of fact and let them learn to help themselves.
We’ve got to let our kids learn for themselves.
I’m not exaggerating when I say the future of entire generations rests on it.
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored