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The Next Generation

In my profession I work with primarily middle aged to elderly adults. I constantly hear negative references about the “millennial” generation. The term “millennial” is used to describe a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century, consisting of individuals born between or around 1990 and 2004. These negative comments and connotations drive me crazy. While some statements are absolutely true, others are generalizations that could be said about individuals from any generation. There are numerous reasons behind the changes from generation to generation, but to me, it all comes back to how children are raised and developed. This article is not designed to tell anyone how to raise your child or children, but a view on why things have changed and millennials are viewed as entitled.

The majority of the time children are perceived as a reflection of their parents. The manner in which they were raised directly usually correlates to the type of person they are and will become. Principles and core values taught at a young age are often passed on from generation to generation. My grandparents raised their children with hopes and aspirations that their children wouldn’t have to work as hard as they did and in turn have a better life. My parents have worked their tails off in hopes that they could provide an environment in which I could best excel. I think it is human nature to try and provide your children with a better and easier life. There is no love that compares to that between a parent and child; they are your life and blood.

The problem that arises sometimes is that each generation is trying so hard to improve the quality of life for each generation that follows. What it has caused is entitlement, laziness, and lack of independence. What life lessons are being taught if mommy and daddy do everything for their child or children? Not only does this pertain to simple, everyday things such as cooking and cleaning, but also other problems and hardships that their child faces. This is a great quote from a baseball coach that directly relates to a simple concept.

“We want guys who drink out of the water hose, not the guy who’s mommy brings him a powerade after the third inning.” Tony Robichaux, Louisiana-Lafayette Head Baseball Coach

Eventually, children are going to be independent and out in the workforce without parental control. Mommy and daddy can’t straighten out conflicts at work or with personal relationships. As parents you should always be there for your child to offer guidance, but they also have to learn to handle adversity and life situations on their own. It is human nature to protect your young and to think they are the greatest, but in certain situations you have to come to reality and do what is truly best for your child. Children should be disciplined and have to deal with consequences of improper behavior.

A recent situation at a local high school directly relates and actually inspired me to write this post. A basketball coach’s contract was not renewed after a 15-year term not because of inappropriate behavior or losses, but because 2 parents (that happened to be on the school board) were unhappy with the basketball coach. The parent’s “superstars” didn’t play enough and didn’t get coddled after an injury. This is a 4A program in one of the most competitive conferences in the state. The school also has one of the smallest enrollments in the conference. The basketball program went 19-7 in the regular season this past year and has won 3 sectional championships in the last 13 years. This leaves them tied for third in the conference for sectional championships in recent years. The program is competitive and has a great coaching staff that truly cares about the development of players both on and off the court.

Having parents that can control who coaches high school athletics is absolutely incredible to me. This isn’t a recreational sport such as little league or AAU basketball; this is one of the top athletic programs in northern Indiana! Daddy ball is over! This situation like many others is teaching kids that mommy and daddy can fix everything when kids don’t get their way. What real life lessons are being learned here? If an employer is unhappy with an employee, is the employee going to have mommy and daddy call to fix things? Life is tough! How we deal with hardships is just a part of it. Just because little Johnny didn’t play or the coaching staff didn’t coddle your son doesn’t give anyone the right to go to the school board with the intentions of having a great coach fired.

Parents should never get involved with playing time. If your child is good enough they will play, plain and simple. If for some reason you think playing time is unfair, tell your child to keep after it and to work harder! It’s a mentality that all coaches and employers want. They are looking for someone that will stick their nose down and go to work. If a player has an issue with playing time, they should be the one to contact the coaching staff and have a meeting. A face-to-face meeting between the player and coach simulates a real life situation that may occur when these young people get into the workforce. Coaches will appreciate and respect this more than receiving an email or phone call from a parent. If parents absolutely cannot keep from getting involved then they should setup a meeting with the player, coach, and the entire team. I wanted to include this story because I have seen it happen at all levels where parents get involved in situations that they shouldn’t be involved with. This does nothing for the child. Parental involvement has gotten out of control.

South Carolina’s basketball coach Frank Martin had a great quote during this past years run to the final four.

“I’m not worried about this generation. I’m worried about the rest of us.”

You know what makes me sick to my stomach? When I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything; we’ve changed as adults. We demand less of kids. We expect less of kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the one that have changed. To blame kids is a cop-out.”

In conclusion, each generation has individuals that are hard workers, lazy, good people, and bad people. Civilization has always been and will continue to be that way. The way children are raised and treated can have a dramatic effect on their future and the generations to come. It’s an awesome responsibility for parents and coaches alike.

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