Why Baby Boomers shouldn’t rant about the youth of today
We Baby Boomers are the large generation born in the Baby Boom, from just after World War II until the early 1960s. We obeyed our parents, respected the law and treated our elders with politeness and respect, even if we thought they were unfair, boring or complete idiots.
We were brought up strictly. Our parents didn’t argue in front of us or discuss their problems with us or try to be our friends. They supervised our homework, made us practise the recorder and expected us to ask permission to leave the table after meals.
They told us to stop that noise and sit down, restricted our TV viewing time, smacked our legs if we misbehaved and cleaned dirty marks off our faces with a hankie before we went to school. Of course they hugged us when we fell over and played Monopoly with us and read us bedtime stories, but there was no question as to who was in charge.
As a backlash from that strict upbringing, many of us chose to be less formal and more lenient with our children – we wanted them to love us, not just obey us. We played boisterous games with them, teased them and cuddled them and gave them treats we hadn’t been allowed as kids.
We opened up emotionally in front of them and listened to their opinions. When they were naughty, we might have given them a slap now and then for a serious offence, but usually we reasoned with them and sometimes we even bribed them instead for the sake of peace. Life with our kids was a happy romp compared with our 1960s childhood.
We sowed the wind, and we reaped the whirlwind.
Now we’re the elders, and we want the politeness and respect we expected… but we’re finding it doesn’t work that way any more. If we want respect, we’ll have to earn it, not just demand it as our due. Our children are the free-thinkers we wanted them to be, and if they don’t think much of our opinions, they see no reason not to say so, especially now they’re adults.
The youth of today are a big disappointment to us Baby Boomers. They can’t write a simple sentence correctly, they’ve got no manners and no skills and they sit on their backsides and expect the world to pour goodies into their laps without the slightest effort on their part. They give more respect to the views of tedious footballers and talentless ‘stars’ than the opinions of their own parents.
We’ve spawned a generation of adults who think that self-improvement means getting another tattoo, living on state benefits is a career option and saying thank you on Facebook is showing enough gratitude for a £500 wedding gift. But this ranting is unfair.
The goalposts have changed, yes, but let’s remember that we were the ones who moved them.
Generations X and Y, our free-spirited children, have embraced social diversity in a way our parents never could have. They’re warm and loving and fearless. They may be rebellious and disobedient, but they don’t automatically feel the need to kow-tow to stupid and unethical people in positions of power, either.
They make their own judgments instead of accepting ours, and if some of their decisions are wrong, they’ll find out soon enough.
We look around and see the world has changed since we were young, but that doesn’t mean we should focus only on the ways it’s changed for the worse. Yes, there have been bad changes in our lifetimes. There are also good changes – think about the progress in medicine, ecology, astronomy and telecommunications.
Sure, unemployment has increased, but at least now our kids can play Candy Crush Saga on their mobile phones while waiting at the Job Centre.
OK, that last argument didn’t come out as powerfully as I’d hoped, but you get the gist of it.
Ranting achieves nothing. We don’t need to rant about social problems like poor education, increasing unemployment, or the deification of undeserving celebrities – we need to push our governments to take positive action to fix what’s wrong for the next generation.
In middle age, we can all see what’s wrong with young people today and how the world has altered. Let’s not wait for old age to achieve wisdom.