This week, we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was among the more than 1000 people at the King Day at the Dome rally at the SC Statehouse Capital. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised to find a vast mix of ages there. I saw 40, 50 and 60 year-olds, whom I refer to Generations B & C. And I saw babies, teenagers, those in their 20’s and 30’s, who make up Generations X & Y for my purposes.
I had a brief conversation with Ilene Belton, a local participant, who said something that really got my attention. She commented on how people in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s passed down the material things to their children, but didn’t pass down the morals and values that black people had in Dr. King’s day. I marveled at what she said because it is very reminiscent of my own point of view.
I believe that many parents are ruining their children. They are giving them all the material things they want but few of the things necessary for building character that they need.
I think it all began with parents who are now in their mid-50’s and early 60’s… and some 40’s too. Now, these parents were raised right! I mean their parents we on it!
An average day in their life went like this: woke up; made their bed and did other chores (hear that… chores; when was the last time your 10-year old did a ‘real’ chore); ate breakfast; went to school, where they were respectful and attentive (because of they weren’t, they were punished on the spot for embarrassing their family’s good name and punished again when they got home); came back home and did more chores like bringing in fire wood, feeding the chickens and the like; did homework; went fishing or played hopscotch; ate dinner; washed the dishes AND swept the floor; took a bath and went to bed.
The average day for today’s youth is to wake up; get on their cell phone, facebook, internet or other device before they even say ‘good morning’; eat breakfast, if they want to; go to school; come home or go to their one of their many activities (football/soccer/piano practice); do homework; eat; watch tv and go to bed… all while playing on their aforementioned devices in between each activity. Do you notice what is missing? Work. Chores. The things that actually build character.
The problem is, Generations B & C didn’t pass what made them so great down to their children. Evidently, they think their life was so hard and tough, that they don’t want their children to have to experience it. Since they couldn’t get up and walk to the fridge and eat cookies and drink red kool aid anytime they wanted, they are determined that their children will never experience a hunger pang (hence all these fat-ass children). Because they didn’t have the nicest clothes or wore hand-me-downs, they are hell bent on their children being the trend setters. Since they were the last to get all the latest, their children must be the first to get all the best.
I’ve heard parents say time after time again… “I don’t want my children to have to struggle like I did.” And my question to them is, “Why not? I didn’t kill you, and it won’t kill them.” Look what a little adversity and hard work did for you. If it made you stronger, better and more determined, why would it not do the same for your children?
Struggle is good. It makes you work harder and appreciate things when you get them. But when you are given everything you want, not only are you unappreciative, you develop this false sense of entitlement. I recall a situation very close to me in which a father gave his son $200 and the son shoved it back in his hand saying he don’t want ‘short paper’. That is the spirit of entitlement at its worst. Unfortunately, that sentiment is not uncommon among today’s youth. This is a perfect example of how Generations B & C have failed Generations X & Y.
As we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, we have to admit that we have come a long way. The fight isn’t over. But along with our continued fight for equality for all races, let’s fight to raise a better generation of children.
Generation A is long gone and Generation Z is still to come. What will we do differently?