Do you ever look around at the people around you and wonder, “ how did it go so wrong?” How did generations of such hard workers create a generation of people who have time to protest when they are offended? A whole section of the population who apparently have enough vacation time to take to the streets — a little looting along the way—and demand grease for their squeaky wheel.
The problem is that I think it’s our own fault. We created these special little monsters, because instead of holding them accountable, using discipline to guide them into various stages of childhood, loving them enough to say no — we told them that they were special. We gave them the feeling that they were all-stars and rock stars, even when they weren’t, maybe especially when they weren’t.
We coddled them. We asked those tiny little people about their feelings and their thoughts. We asked their opinions on decisions that had nothing to do with them. Generation X, we did this, and I’m not sure how we fix it.
We were raised at a time where we did a lot of it on our own. We were self-reliant. We were the first generation where most families saw both mom and dad work. We also had a lot of double families thanks to the divorce rates. We made our own lunches. We did our homework on our own time — no one asked if we had any. I can’t ever remember a time when I asked my parents for homework help.
We were accountable. We knew the rules and there was little supervision. We played outside all day. Anyone remember getting in trouble for coming into the house for a snack or a drink?
I remember my first real bike, it was pink with a banana seat. Somewhere my mom has pictures where I’m a blur as I rode it all over the neighbors’ long driveway. That bike meant freedom. I had an exact grid, I could ride five blocks to the north but no further than the gas station. I could go west two streets and all the way south down to the highway then up another three blocks on the east side before I reached my boundary. That grid and all the streets in between were fair game until the street lights came on.
There was a little patch of woods nearby. I would pack up my siblings and we would “hike” into the wilderness looking for treasures and ghosts and adventures. The big ditches that ran alongside the football stadium were also fair game. We would dig around in the utility room until we found tools that might possibly fit our needs, then we would go down and fish for crawfish, muddy and barefoot.
We did projects and let our imaginations run wild. We were resourceful, if mom didn’t let us sneak in for snacks, we would go knock a few doors down and Mrs. Ruthie would always have cookies, candies or snacks ready. Mainly because we never knocked without flowers, flowers that we would “borrow” from someone else’s yard.
We were responsible. We had chores. We helped out in the houses we lived in. My main chore was washing the dishes after every meal (I was convinced that my mother used every possible container in the kitchen to cook). We understood that our families needed help. We took care of our siblings.
We shared. A lot of us grew up in a house with one bathroom, nothing says sharing like that. If you have never stood in line for your turn in the potty then you were obviously spoilt and I envy you. I can remember once even answering the door where my elderly neighbor asked if our bathroom was free because his wife was in theirs.
We were not micromanaged. Yet when it came time for us to raise the next generation, we took all those things and we overcompensated. We gave them all trophies and praise and we did all the hard work for them, because it’s natural to want better for your kids than what you had — except it turns out, we had the best and didn’t know it.
— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.