I overheard someone say recently that Millennials are to blame for all of the societal problems we are experiencing.
I am not so sure about that – I don’t know what a Millennial is exactly and I’m usually cautious about casting a wide net of blame when I am not certain what I will catch.
I also tend to think this whole “It’s the Millennials’ fault” is an easy way for some to avoid taking their own responsibility as well.
Sure, every generation has had its issues and problems, including my own, but I shoulder the blame for my ozone-depleting use of Freeze it!, the horrible shoulder pads that never did make my waist look smaller and my misguided use of blue eyeshadow.
I am sure my sassy mouth and attitude had more to do with the fact I was lightheaded from the aforementioned overuse of the liquid hair glue than it did with being a Gen-Xer.
Yes, my generation had its flaws and faults.
We grew up in a decadent decade, where everything was bright, loud, and just best described as excessive.
But we were good kids. And we took responsibility for what we did.
If we didn’t and got caught, we knew there was something worse than some of the punishments that were doled out back then; we usually had to face our mamas.
The few times I did something stupid – which truthfully, was rare – I usually got caught.
And somehow lived to tell about it.
Mama’s wrath could be scarier than anything legally imposed.
Nowadays, when people do something stupid, they blame someone else or richly tell you it was your fault.
“I didn’t know I was supposed to do that,” someone whined recently. “So how can it be my fault if I didn’t know about it?”
Ignorance only gets you so far.
Some folks seem to think that everything is supposed to be hand-delivered as an app on the latest iPhone and spoon fed to them in bite sized gluten-free, non-GMO, organic nibbles.
When I was younger and didn’t know what I was supposed to do, Mama of course imparted her wisdom.
“Are your legs broken?” she would ask. “How about your finger? Can it dial a phone? Can you still speak? Good, go call someone and find out what you need to do. When you get to the point you need me, let me know but you need to learn how to take care of some of this stuff on your own.”
Guess what? I did what she said.
I was only six but I did it.
Maybe not that young, but you get the drift. Mama was overprotective and prone to hyper-vigilance in a lot of areas of my life, but she made me learn to deal with the consequences of my actions or lack thereof.
If I knew what I was supposed to do and didn’t do it, well, that was on me.
I tried saying one of my mistakes was someone else’s fault and she nipped that junk in the bud fast and furiously.
“Did they hold a gun to your head?” she wanted to know.
I told her they had not.
“Then you were not forced to do it and yet you did. You only have yourself to blame.”
Mama didn’t have to threaten bodily harm either; she would either give me her deafening silent treatment or take away whatever privileges I had at the time.
See, my generation was one that believed in restrictions and being grounded. Losing the keys to the family Oldsmobile, having your phone unplugged from your room and not being able to go to the football game on Friday with your friends were common sentences. After you endured those punishments for a few weeks, you made sure you didn’t suffer the same mistakes again.
It was a generation where the parents were loving but firm.
They weren’t our friends; they were our parents.
I know that is a tough role to fill most of the time.
We want our kids to love us, to want to be around us, to not hate us.
But truthfully, if they don’t think we are the unfairest of human beings at some point in their lives, we are not doing our job.
And maybe that is what has happened.
Somewhere, parents quit enforcing those rules and it has created some situations where people think they are entitled to special treatment.
Do I want my child to have the best of everything? Absolutely.
Do I want him to succeed? Of course.
But I don’t want him to become a jerk in the process.
Not too long ago, he complained to his father I was being unfair and mean.
Our house is less than a thousand square feet, so I could hear his stage whisper clearly from my chair in the living room.
“She’s your mother,” my husband replied. “That’s her job.”
My decision – whatever it had been – stood.
None of this playing one side against the other. No special treatment.
My child eventually came to me and said he understood; he even apologized.
It hurt me to get on to him; it did. I love my child and want him to be happy about everything.
I also want him to grow up and be a well-adjusted, successfully functioning adult.
Usually, that happens in an environment with some rules and firm boundaries.
I think if we want to start changing some things in this world, we need to start at home.
And maybe some good old-fashioned ‘80’s style restrictions and punishments of taking away cell phones and car keys would be a good place to start.