The goal of every generation is to make life for their children better than it was for them. There isn’t a parent on the planet that wouldn’t do anything to insure their child had the best opportunity to succeed in this thing that we call life.
Baby Boomers might be considered the first pampered generation. We weren’t forced to work at 13 years old or quit school after the 10th grade to help the family put food on the table. Growing up, we heard tales of what life was like for our parents and grandparents. Their struggles would make young people living in 2019 run for the hills.
We grew up in a time when high school diplomas were no longer rare, they were the norm. And with the availability of community colleges, higher education was more easily attainable.
Our parents paved the way for us by providing the opportunity to succeed. They gave us the road map to success, but we had to find the door and, more importantly, figure out how to open it.
Now it’s our turn with our own children and, quite frankly, we’re screwing it up.
Instead of following the simple concept of making a better life for our kids, we hovered over every aspect of their lives, earning the moniker of “helicopter” parents. We went way beyond helping them with their homework so they wouldn’t fail, driving them everywhere while scheduling their playtime and playmates. Because of us, they learned there are no losers in competitions, only winners, cheering their simplest of accomplishments so they always felt good about themselves. Ribbons and trophies for everyone!
But even that isn’t enough, apparently. We recently learned that some parents have graduated from being “helicopter” parents to a more dangerous animal. By taking advantage of their celebrity or financial clout, they feel the need to “plow the road” for their children, insuring their child’s career path is free and clear of obstacles. Welcome to the new world of “Snow Plow” parents.
Many Baby Boomers made it a goal to provide their children financial assistance for higher education, something their parents couldn’t do for them. Now, parents with the financial means are paying huge sums of money to make sure little Johnny gets into Harvard. They are bribing admission officers or paying smarter students to take the SATs for their kids. For every kid that gets into college that way, there are others that worked hard and are being denied.
And in the end, what life lesson are we passing down to our children? That because you are rich, famous or know the right people, doors are not only open to you, but there is a concierge on the other side to take care of your every need?
“Millennials” in their late 20s and early 30s are finding out the hard way that the outside world is playing by the rules of “Work hard and you will succeed in life.” There’s not a lot of trophies being handed out in the real world for no reason. They may not like it, but they are beginning to adapt.
Teens and young adults from “Generation Z” are already being stereotyped that they expect everything to be handed to them. You know what, who can blame them? It’s what we’re guilty of teaching them, it’s how they’ve been raised.
No parent ever wants to see their child fail, that’s not in our DNA. But we can’t protect them forever. At least we should be doing a better job at preparing them for what they will eventually encounter in the real world. And we certainly shouldn’t be showing them how easy it is to beat the system because of who we are or how much money we have.
Instead of teaching them to overcome obstacles in their lives, we have misled them to believe those obstacles don’t exist. Even worse, we might be teaching them those obstacles are only for other people.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.