Catholic Husband

Love, Lead, Serve

The Entitled, Envious Millennials

Student walks through campus

I read an interesting opinion article in the Wall Street Journal that took on the issue of a generation of disrespectful children. In the article, the physician writes about his experience of children being overtly disrespectful to their parents during his office visits. While the author acknowledges that not all children misbehave, it's much more prevalent than it was 20-30 years ago. Interestingly, he cites research that demonstrates that disrespectful children, "are more likely to grow up to be anxious and depressed, three times more likely to be overweight, more likely to be fragile, less healthy and less creative, compared with respectful children."

Growing up in a military family, respect was a part of my upbringing. That military bearing that includes the "Yes, sir" and "No, ma'am" responses that I still give today without thinking has indeed resulted in my not having anxiety or depression, and I find myself to be healthy and very creative. I hope to bring up my own children with the same level of respect not only so that they'll respect others, but so that they'll respect themselves.

I think we're really seeing this theme of disrespectful children all grown up in our society today. Millennials have gotten a bad reputation that is somewhat their fault, but is mostly their parent's fault. A generation of poor parenting has resulted in perhaps the laziest, most entitled generation that we've ever seen. This isn't just about Millennials seeking a better work-life balance, or a different set of employee benefits, this is about a real sense of envy and entitlement that is pervasive among America's young adults.

We saw it vividly in Occupy Wall Street and even more recently in the university campus protests. Graduate students protesting because they want better pay, better housing, and better healthcare. We see it in protests in favor of a dramatic raise to the minimum wage, valuing the work of all positions as much as a first year teacher or non-profit administrator after four years of college. We see it in students protesting student loan debt and demanding that the $1.2T+ of outstanding student loan debt be forgiven.

At the heart of these protests is a lack of accountability and responsibility. These young adults are upset that they made a bad deal, based on bad information, and want someone else to fix their problem. Those graduate students who don't like their benefits aren't hostages, they're free to go and get a job that offers the benefits that they want. If you're unhappy with how much your company is paying you, go find someone else who will pay you more. There are more than a few entrepreneurs with only a high school education out there making way more than $15/hour. The students who took out ridiculous amounts of student loans did so of their own free will and in taking those loans promised to repay them.

Fixing today's adults is hard, but fixing tomorrow's adults is easy. Teach your children about responsibility and accountability, instill in them a solid work ethic, and tell them the truth: you are in the best position of anyone to fix your own life.
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