I’m doubtful that Generation X will earn a label as wonderful as the “greatest generation.” I could write for days about why I think this, but my reasons and the layers of what they imply are too dense and numerous to address in one post.
I have a single focus today: Our kids deserve better than to have us give up too quickly and easily on the parenting front in the face of confusion or adversity.
The generation we are raising is growing up in a world far more complex and difficult to navigate than the one we grew up in. I’m far from the first to say it. The sheer volume of information (good and bad) and imagery (again, good and bad) that the average pre-teen or teen has access to every day would surely cause an ancient Athenian to sit down and ponder for magnitude. The education most of them get fails to equip them with the analytical and moral skills needed to sort through this morass of information and arrive at healthy, functional, wise conclusions. Many of them end up making bad decisions which can quickly escalate to gravely consequential ones.
Every day, I see parents who not only lack awareness of the types of information their kids possess but also the will to look at it and do something about it.
Think of any slice of the spectrum of things a kid encounters every day — peers, worldviews, politics, commerce, sex, drugs, music, books, movies, games, the Internet, diet, sports — each of those things can influence them in any number of ways. As parents and in-house leaders, there is much we can do to help them find their way. Sometimes this involves much time and effort.
This thought brings me to the word this blog owes its title to — diligence (spoudazo in Greek). Diligence requires balance and it requires commitment. Then there’s selflessness. Oh, and a strong work ethic.
A farmer who lives in an area of the world where there is only one growing season followed by harvest time and then a harsh winter understands that he has to work very hard and consistently to ensure that he produces enough food to sustain his family for the entire year.
A surfer dude who lives in a part of the world where it’s warm all the time and where fruit grows on the trees he passes every day on his way to the beach has no such concerns.
A child’s growing season is 18 years long. The years between 18 and 25 are the time to harvest what has been sown. The full responsibility of adulthood can turn into a brutal winter filled with blizzards and ice storms that don’t always pass by quickly. Diligent families will enjoy offspring with full storehouses of internalized values and resources to sustain them.
We can’t be surfer dudes as parents and expect that great fruit will somehow just drop from our children’s lives. We can’t stay so wrapped up in work or our own interests and pursuits that we neglect cultivating open lines of communication, trust, respect, responsibility, and genuine love in our homes. That stuff sounds hard. It is hard. We can’t afford laziness.
A Forbes article I just read quoted writer Elizabeth Kolbert, who is “convinced our slacker parenting skills are a reflection of a chronic laziness in our society, a sort of generalized sense of no-can-do. We’ve let everything from banking regulations to public school funding slide, why should it be different on the home front? ‘A lack of discipline is apparent these days in just about every area of American society,’ she writes, a point with which it is really, really hard to quibble.”
I have some lazy tendencies. I’m learning to overcome them, and the payoff has been greater than I could have expected.