An open letter to “kids these days”

An-open-letter-to-kids-these-daysI’ve been hearing a lot lately about “kids these days.” It’s in conversations about how lazy, unmotivated and generally annoying kids are. It’s a Facebook meme of an old photo of an adult spanking a child with the caption “we need more of this and kids wouldn’t be so terrible.” It’s some article about how the younger generation just doesn’t measure up to us older, wiser and generally more awesome folks.

I’d like to apologize to you “kids these days.” My contemporaries and others don’t mean it. We’re not perfect, and we complain sometimes. Maybe we had a young person we know drop out of school and live off their parents for a few years, only to have that young person become an entitled, demanding person who just doesn’t fit our ideal of a contributing citizen. But we really do know that one person does not make a generation.

Maybe we’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young. Not everyone has the focus of knowing what exactly to do in life. Some of us forget what it feels like to have the world at our fingertips, yet have apprehension that we’re not sure that we’re ready for it.

What we sometimes miss is that our perception of reality is molded by a few things, and we forget that truth can be subjective. Where we see a mooch who’s unmotivated, we may not see a young person who’s scared they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up (newsflash – many of us in the work force still don’t). This young person may be living with mom and dad to help take care of an ailing parent or grandparent, and the family is barely getting by.

Or maybe we, as the wiser, more productive generations see young people who don’t listen to authority and completely conform to the way something has been done for 50 years. What we fail to see in that scenario is the innovative young person who’s trying to change the world in some small way, working smarter rather than harder. Innovation moves the world. We sometimes miss that.

To you “kids these days,” please give us old folks a little grace. Sure, there are kids who disobey their parents or who are rude citizens that interrupt conversations or don’t hold open doors for others. But there are also young people who are petitioning their local mayors for things like “Vietnam Veteran Appreciation” events. There are young people putting up lemonade stands to help pay for cancer treatments for a neighbor or little girl a thousand miles away.

Generations always seem to look back at the younger folks behind them and see the negative. What we need to do is look at the opportunities to mentor our younger folks. Not only can we sow the seeds of greatness based on our experience and wisdom, but we can also learn from our young people. It’s a 2-way street.

So to you “kids these days,” cut us some slack. I’m sorry some of us old folks complain about you. I hope you forgive us. I also hope and pray for those of your generation who do fall down. Get back up, listen to your elders and work hard. Or at least work smart. Make a difference in this world. Leave it better than you found it. Love those around you. Maybe you can teach us a few things about that.

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