The Ugly Truth; We Messed Up

We all know we’ve spoiled our kids.  We gave them everything we didn’t have, and we wanted the best for them at all times, as any parent does. We made their path in life as easy as possible and it worked. We proudly created the youngest generation of citizens in this country. We got it right where our parents failed. No, actually, we didn’t. We inadvertently made it harder for them. We messed up.

The youngest generation is soft. Not to say they aren’t tough or strong. I’d bet there’s more than a few out there that could beat me senseless. That’s not what I mean.  I mean soft. It’s different.

You see, most of us grew up watching Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  We had TV icons like the A-Team and Knight Rider. Rambo was the toughest SOB we’d ever seen on the big screen and Kung Fu movies filled our Saturday mornings as soon as cartoons ended. We cheered for Clint Eastwood and John Wayne.

We grew up in what today’s generation calls a “Toxic Male Society.” It’s gone now. Quietly, while we were distracted by life, the US went from John Wayne and GI Joe to Kim Kardashian and My Little Pony.

Not to say it isn’t missed. That Toxic Male Society had its place. Americans were once the toughest kids on the block. A nation of pioneers and free thinkers. American know-how and perseverance were iconic. It was something we all aspired to. A goal we all worked towards as kids. To be strong, proudly free, and willing to fight for everything we own. To be American.

Our youngest generation didn’t get that.

We strapped them with helmets and knee pads, told them that fighting was wrong, and taught them to fear the world. No more playing out in public. No more kids being kids all summer. No more allowing the children to learn what we should naturally learn in those years. Camaraderie, the value of friends, the value of honesty and loyalty. The consequences people face for their actions. The pain of failure. The value of freedom.

Now, instead of fighting to win, kids are happy with a “Participation Trophy.” Instead of only the best kids making the team, everyone makes the team. Have we considered the result of that?
Now any given team has a kid that isn’t as good as the rest. He knows it. The other kids know it. Inside, that kid knows he’s failing, yet the coach keeps him out there. The lesson he learns is that it’s OK to suck. People around you will carry you. Participation trophies are given out at the end anyway, so why try hard?

Then we have the nerve to question why those kids now embrace Socialism.

We taught it to them.

When those kids, now adults, walk out into the world, we can’t sit back and wonder why they have a sense of entitlement. It’s the same reason they have no concept of consequences. It’s the reason they think their opinion supersedes the opinions of anyone else. It’s the reason our cartoons, movies, and books are being banned. We taught them this.

The newest generation of young adults is rebelling against a third-generation rebellion.  By now, anything worth rebelling against is gone. We built the world we wanted our kids to grow up in. We eliminated anything we thought was dangerous to them. Lawn darts, Clackers, and cap guns were taken off the shelves. Bullying was policed like never before. Fistfights were no longer the deciding end of a disagreement. The childhood rights of passage were stripped away. We made the world as safe as we could.

Perhaps we took it a bit too far. The ugliness in life is always going to be there. Failure hurts. Actions have consequences. Being stupid is often painful. They never learned that hard work pays off. That there’s pride in earning what you’ve got. That sometimes you don’t make the team.

We’ve produced a generation that never learned those lessons. They didn’t get the chance to prove themselves. They never learned a single lesson the hard way. They never experienced the rights of passage that we did. They were shielded from everything. Then, they entered the world unprepared for failure, pain, and hardships.

They’re soft.

That’s our fault.