The entitled generation

Last week I watched a news report on a new type of life crisis.  Well, sort of.  A young reporter discussed the many difficulties facing the 25-year-olds as they finish college.  Wait a minute?  Why are 25-year-olds just finishing college?  Did they take a few years off along the way?  How did they do that?

I thought about what would have happened to my brothers or me if we tried to explain to our father how we needed a few years off to find ourselves, to figure out what we wanted out of life, to see where we fit in this world.  That was a brief thought.

No confusion, no wondering, no questions.  Dad would have explained any concerns we had with admirable brevity.  Where did we want to find ourselves?  Back at school without any permanent injuries.  What did we want out of life?  To survive this discussion.  Where did we fit in this world?  Back at school as rapidly as possible.  No confusion, no wondering, no questions.

At least that is what would be going through our minds amid the moments of sheer terror.  To be fair, dad would have remained calm, though unwavering.  He would have asked us what was on our mind, listened to what we had to say, and spent a few moments thinking about it.

Then he would have quietly said, “I’d rather you just stay in college,” meaning “Go back to school, we’re done talking.”  And the subject would never be brought up again.  Period.  None of us knows what would have happened if we had pushed dad past him saying “I’d rather you just….”  We had an inborn knowledge that doing so would be a bad idea.

So what is the crisis today’s college graduates face?  They are not getting the job they know they deserve, at the income they know they are worth, living in the home they assumed they could afford, driving the car to work they knew they would have.
So rather than a mid-life crisis, they call it a quarter-life crisis; the new catch phrase meaning, “I am not getting what I know I am entitled to get.”

I am still a bit confused about the claimed crisis.  It never occurred to me or to my brothers that we were entitled to anything, yet alone starting out in life where our parents finished, simply moving laterally into our lives.  This even though at the time my father died at age 61, he and mom could have put everything they owned in a small U-Haul truck.

It was years before I realized there were kids who were going to college and not working at all, yet alone nearly full-time.  And although at the time I felt the world was unfair, I now look back and see that dad knew what he was doing.  He was helping us, not hurting us.  He was showing us how much he cared, not how callous he was.

He was able to do what too many parents of our generation have not done.  He understood his job as our father was to teach us how to be men.  He understood what that required of him and of us; setting aside the pain he and we would go through.

When we left home for college, pretty much broke, we entered the final phase of our “training.”  We started our final lessons and final exam.  He knew what had to be done.  He was our dad.  He was “allowing” us to become men.  His handshake as you left home let you know what he expected of you, and that you were welcome home on holidays.

The final lessons?  The value of money, hard work, learning, poverty, hunger, failure, pain, responsibility, self-sufficiency, success.  The results of the final exam?  Self-respect and independence.

We should all love our children enough to give them these final lessons, this final exam.  I agree with them, they are entitled–to these lessons.

Print Page

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Leave a Reply

Name (required)