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The Weakest Generation

A friend of mine from the Seattle area recently presented something at a conference that I was attending that not only stuck with me but validated something that I have been feeling for a long time, our children are weak and lack grit. Why? Because we’ve made them that way.

This is directly from his presentation and from the book “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle.

1. My Grandmother’s memo (on raising children): Here is the baby. Take it home and let it grow. Let it speak when spoken to. Carry on with your lives.

2. My Mother’s memo (on raising children): Here is your baby. Take them home and then get together with your friends who also have these things. Drink Tab before 4 o’clock and wine coolers after. Smoke cigarettes and play cards. Lock the kids out of the house and let them in to eat and sleep.

3. Our memo (on raising children): Here is your baby. This is the moment you have been waiting for your entire life: When the hole in your heart is filled and you finally become complete. If, after I put this child in your arms, you sense anything other than fulfillment, seek counseling immediately. After you hang up with the counselor, call a tutor. Since we have been speaking for three minutes, your child is already behind. Have you registered them for Mandarin classes yet? I see. Poor child. Listen closely: Parent is no longer a noun; those days are gone. Parent is now a verb, something you do ceaselessly. Think of the verb parent as synonymous with Protect, Shield, Hover, Deflect, Fix, Plan and Obsess. Parenting will require all of you, please parent with your mind, body, and soul. Parenting is your new religion, within which you will find salvation. The child is your savior. Convert or be damned. We will wait while you cancel all other life endeavors. Thank you.

Now the goal of parenting is: Never allow anything difficult to happen to your child. To that end, they must win every competition they enter (here are your four hundred participation trophies, distribute accordingly). They must feel that everyone likes and loves them and wants to be with them at all times. They must be constantly entertained and amused: every one of their days on earth must be like Disneyland, but better. If you actually go to Disneyland, get a fast pass because they should never be forced to wait for anything, ever. If other kids don’t want to play with them, call those kids’ parents and find out why, and insist they fix it. In public, walk in front of your child and shield them from any unhappy faces that might make them sad and any happy faces that might make them feel left out. When they get into trouble at school, call their teacher and explain loudly that your child does not make mistakes. Insist that the teacher apologizes for her mistake. Do not ever, ever let a drop of rain fall upon your child’s fragile head. Raise the human without ever allowing them to feel a single uncomfortable human emotion. Give them a life without allowing life to happen to them. In short: Your life is over, and your new existence is about ensuring that their life never begins. Godspeed.

What a terrible philosophy we’ve unconsciously embraced. It’s why we feel exhausted, neurotic, and guilty all the time. This is why we’ve gone from the greatest generation (our grandparents) to the weakest generation (our children). The greatest generation were people who failed, dusted themselves off (not have their parents dust them off), and tried again (instead of their parents doing it for them). They were people who had been hurt so they had empathy for others who have been hurt. They had to deal with the consequences of their mistakes because their parents’ philosophy was “the mind may forget but the ass always remembers”. They learned to deal with loss and how to have humility for others.

Our current child-rearing philosophy has led us to steal the one thing from our children that will allow them to become strong people: Struggle.

If our children don’t learn to solve their own problems, learn true self-esteem, learn to play again, learn that the world is not fair, learn that they are not always a winner and the best at everything, learn that the way to happiness is not through themselves but through others then we will continue to be lost and helpless as a society.

Our new memo to our children should be:

Here is your baby.

Love them at home, at the polls, in the streets.

Let EVERYTHING happen to them.

Be near.

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