PARENTING: Family responsibilities prepare children for the real world
– Social scientists report that we are, quite literally, raising the Zzzz generation.
Children born in the ten-year period starting in the early 1990s, through the beginning of the 21st century, are referred to by social scientists as “Generation Z.” Characterized by digital dependence, members of Generation Z are globally connected, but socially isolated.
Generation Y, born between 1982 and the early 1990s, are the siblings and predecessors of Generation Z. Collectively known as the “Millennial Generation,” Generations Y and Z tends to be optimistic, tech-savvy, style-conscious and, according to some, completely self-absorbed.
The X generation, the parents of the Z and Y generations, sprouted and grew up between 1961 and 1981. They have suffered hardship and trying times, most recently the devastation of the economic collapse of 2008. This was followed by the worst depression since the 1930’s, in which many of the parents of Millennials lost their jobs and their homes. Generation X has had high highs and low lows, but through it all, they have worked hard and become resilient.
Generation X has learned a lot from these trials, but the great tragedy is that they aren’t passing these principles on to their children.
Instead of teaching the principles of hard work and persistence to their children, Generation X is providing a soft place for their children to land, all to their kids’ detriment. As a whole, they are becoming ATMs for their children and depriving their children of the gift of work, the lessons of scarcity, and the drive of desire.
Increasingly, we are also seeing the advent of the Boomerang Generation, children who leave home temporarily, only to return because it’s easier to go back to the comfort of their parents’ home than live frugally on their own. Sociologists have long seen this as a common issue among the lower and upper classes, but now it’s becoming more common in the middle class, as well.
When I ask parents what their dreams are for their children, they uniformly acknowledge that they do not want their adult children living at home, playing video games and raiding their cupboards. However, if the parental ATM is always open, what incentive do our children have to leave the safety of the nest and go out into the world and build their own?
. . . a parent’s job is to prepare the children in the family to be responsible and productive adults.
Unfortunately, that is what we are allowing many of our children to become, by not expecting more of them. Larry Winget, author of Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Fix-the-Way-You-Parent Guide for Raising Responsible, Productive Adults, reminds parents to begin with the end in mind and to remember that it is not a parent’s responsibility to provide children with a blissful childhood, although a few laughs along the way are good. Rather, a parent’s job is to prepare the children in the family to be responsible and productive adults.[i] Larry Winget’s position is simple, if we want to fix society’s problems, first, we have to fix the parents.
Parents who are often over-worked and have disposable income tend to overindulge their children and, frankly, don’t expect much from them. That’s a mistake.
Children of every generation need to learn responsibility in the home through chores and family duties. It’s good for children to do dishes, cook family dinners, care for siblings, and earn money by babysitting and mowing lawns. Chores prepare children for the real world. Getting a little help around the house along the way will be a small bonus for Generation X. However, since a parent’s job is to raise children to be independent adults, the real satisfaction comes in seeing their children grow into independent, successful adults. | iH
[i], Winget, Larry, Your Kids Are Your Own Fault: A Fix-the-Way-You-Parent Guide for Raising Responsible, Productive Adults (New York: Gotham, 2011).
Family law attorney, author, and educator, Margaret Pickard serves as an Outsource Mediator and Parent Coordinator for the Las Vegas Family Courts. Recognized as 2011 Peacemaker of the Year and named among the 2014 Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in Nevada, she has also taught at numerous universities and is the author of The Unbroken Circle of Love and Proof-Positive Parenting: What Social Science Research Tells Us About Raising Responsible Kids.