June 15, 2017

15 06 2017

Oh, how we want to share with our children the things we know and value! And oh, the disappointment when we have to accept that they just aren’t interested.

Each generation as it ages becomes increasingly disgruntled with the generations that follow. The older are critical of the younger. Critical of their values, their priorities, their choices, their work ethic, their lack of discipline and ethics. My parents’ generation disparaged mine, and now my generation wrings its hands over my children’s. I overheard in the library a couple of women my age talking about “kids these days” in ways hauntingly like what my parents would have said about me.

I remember. I saw the lives that adults had made for themselves, what they thought was important, and I rejected it. I saw what a mess the world was in, all the suffering, all the corruption, and determined that if this was what the values and choices of previous generations had brought us to, I wanted no part of it. I saw people working their asses off, sacrificing themselves to achieve success as they saw it, only to grow old and die without having lived life fully. Not me, I thought. Not me!

We remember our childhoods, how we were raised. If we had happy childhoods, we try to do the same for our own kids. If we loved playing in the woods, or baking in the kitchen with Mom, or building things with Dad, or spending hours reading or doing crafts, that’s what we want for our kids. We try to share the same things. But the world is not the same as the one we grew up in. Our kids quite likely will not have the same interests we did, especially as they grow older and discover what’s going on outside their parents’ sphere of influence. This can cause parental panic and the desire to protect one’s little darlings from the corruption—as we see it. When this doesn’t work, and they go their own way as young, curious, gregarious humans will do, the parents are heartbroken.

If our childhoods weren’t so happy, or we dwell on the mistakes our parents made raising us, we declare that we won’t make those mistakes. We wind up making different mistakes, which our kids then resent us for. Again, heartbreak.

Then there are the parents who are determined to give their kids every advantage. Only the best of everything. Their children must be happy, and any unhappiness is a problem to be immediately solved. Then they wonder why the kids grow up expecting the world to do the same for them. When life doesn’t oblige, they get angry and resentful. They do not understand hard work and self-sacrifice because it was never required of them. The generation that did the hard work and self-sacrificing then scorns these kids with their attitude of entitlement.

Each generation raises the next with expectations. Each generation tries to impart their wisdom, their values, their experiences onto the next. Each generation looks at the next with the eyes of age, judging the young by the criteria of the old.

Each generation is disappointed.

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