Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Disrespect for Young People

One summer at a family reunion I sat across from cousin in law and listened to her diss her teenaged son right in front of him.  He was lazy.  He never listened.  He  had no common sense.  Expected her to pick up after him.    As we drove home my kids and I talked about how unkind that was to talk about him like that in front of him.  And my daughter said "If he's like that, whose fault is that?"

The first time I saw these "rules" going around facebook (they first showed up without the chalkboard") I disagreed with rule #1.  I never have believed in telling children "Life is unfair.  Get used to it"  I'm not saying I never said it because we all get tired of hearing that whine "That's not FAIR!" from our kids.  But what I hope I taught my children was, "Yes life is NOT get used to it.  Never get used to it.  Work to make the world more fair"

But as I see this being shared more and more around facebook it's not just the "life isn't fair"  It's the whole arrogant "Aren't  young people lazy and stupid and aren't we so much better than them?" attitude that bothers me so.  I leave comments disagreeing on every single one of them and nobody seems to appreciate it.  In fact one person called me intolerant.  

I mean seriously look at the world we have created.  Why should young people pay any attention to any "rules" we might impose on them?

Young people are different than we are.   Some of that difference is a good thing.  Some isn't.  Some kids are lazy and feel entitled.  Some kids have been overprotected by their parents.  Many many young people have been neglected and abandoned by the adults in their life.  If we despair that young people do not seem to act like "adults", why is that?  How much time to children actually spend with adults?  Very very little.  Why should they know how to be adults when we've paid so little attention to them?

I've been reading Hurt 2.0, Inside the World of Today's Teenagers  and it is an eye opener.   Young people have pretty much been abandoned and neglected by the adults in their lives.  I think that is why I have such visceral reaction when I see that STUPID picture going around.  I see so much selfishness and disregard for children going on among adults.  How dare we get all self-righteous and smug about what is wrong with young people?  How about we pull out that plank in our own eyes first? 

I am, at heart an optimist. I have faith in the new generation.  They will figure it out.  Just like we rebelled against some of the flaws of the generation before us, they will push the pendulum that has swung too far in this generation.  They will figure out what doesn't work and survive.  And they will push the world a little too far in a direction and will be annoyed when the generation that follows them pushes back.  And so it goes.  

But if you are my facebook friend and you post that picture, be prepared for a rant from me.


  1. I hadn't seen that graphic, and can't say my life was any poorer for it. You're right: it's condescending. It seems to miss

    By the way, I did a quick search for the (putative) source. School of Success seems to be an Indian organization that runs educational camps for children. Their site isn't very good or very informative, and the photo gallery is empty, but there's nothing on it to suggest that this graphic reflects anything they do or teach. And Bill Gates isn't mentioned anywhere. And "car phone"? What is this, 1970? All told, I'm thinking it's some smug parent's photo-shop work, recycling one of those chain e-mails that somebody thought was funny once upon a time.

  2. I am so tired of that list going around. when I first saw it, I liked a few of them, but it got more and more annoying the more I saw it. I know a lot of great teenagers, and I'm not so sure about a lot of the adults I meet. And as far as going to church, when parents stop coming to church as soon as their child is confirmed, what does that say about the adult's faith?

  3. I've escaped this particular nugget so far, but I think you're right. The attitude toward young people here is arrogant and condescending. It also loudly contains a poor and condescending attitude toward our schools. It participates in blaming the kids, the schools, etc. while suggesting absolution for parents, business leaders, and everyone else. Well, if kids really do think that life is decided into semesters or the like, it's because they have been taught to think that, and not by the schools. If kids really are lazy, it's because the very generation complaining about that has taught them, or at least let them, be lazy.

    According to (, it has nothing to do with Bill Gates, and Fr. Anonymous seems to be on the right path that it is a recycle of one of those annoying chain e-mails.

    Oh, and that font on the blackboard image is annoying, especially with that backwards N, given the self-assumed arrogant superiority of the content.

  4. As a someone who was considered a teenager but a few years ago I have to say I disagree. I am not saying you are wrong, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I don't find that these "rules" are beating down on today's youth saying "we are better then you because we are older and wiser." When I was younger I went through a lot of stuff that may have caused me to grow up a little faster then everyone else, maturity wise. I always found in school that they try to coddle you and make things easy for you. I disagree with middle school as it is supposed to make the step to highschool easier. Maybe "Life isn't fair, get used to it" isn't what it should have said. Maybe it should say "Life isn't easy. Nothing in life comes free." I had a teacher who used to tell me that school is the easiest job you will ever have. At the time I thought he was crazy, but as I got older and realized how hard it was for my dad to support use and the stress he went through some months I realized he was right. After school there are no 2 month vacations. No matter how much you want it you will probably only be making minimum wage after highschool or a little more. There is no job that allows you to sit around and get paid. I find that so many kids seem to have it so easy in the early years (neglect or no) that when school is all done and they have to go out into the world get jobs, pay bills, and so on that it's like a slap in the face. It would be nice to hope that one day all the worlds problems will go away and everything will be wonderful but as the world is right now... Well life isn't fair, life isn't easy, generally the mass population doesn't care about your ego or yourself esteem. If you want to get anywhere in the world you have to prove you deserve it, and you have to fight to prove your worth. I found, sadly, that a large percentage of my peers did not learn this is school, and probably some have still not learnt it. Still living at home, with some part time job that pays almost nothing, with some state of mind that the world owes them for simply existing, and no plans to go anywhere or do anything else with their life.