Raising a Snowflake
“Dad, you want me to do what?…..” My 20 year old son asked with his jaw agape.
“Save money son, start now and imagine what you will have in the long term.” I said as matter of factly as I could knowing that I was really stating the obvious. My son had finally gotten a job which I would consider pretty solid for a 20 year old. If I could have saved money when I was his age imagine where I would have been today.
“What do you want me to do work my life away?!” He replied as he walked out the door.
I think I stood there flabbergasted. What seemed like an obvious idea to me was completely thrown away by a 20 year old. I started working when I was 13 delivering newspapers in the morning, I bought my own first car, I went back to school as an adult to get my teaching license, yet I am an idiot to this 20 year old college dropout.
Like you I have been dealing with 2 millennials first hand. IN full disclosure I have a masters in education and have been teaching middle schoolers and high schoolers for the past 16 years. Prior to that I was a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. I have also had the distinct pleasure of raising two snowflakes for the past 4 years by myself after my divorce. What I thought would be fairly easy to do has become basically my life’s work.
What is a Snowflake?
Let me give you some information that might send shock waves through your system. The class of 2017 was the last class of students to be born in the 1900’s. If you are like me you have to take a minute to let that sink in. From this day forward everyone currently in the education system are millennials.
That may not seem like much but let me explain it a bit further. That means Their first president in their lifetime was George W. Bush. They were not even a year old when the 911 attacks occurred. The first Iphone was released in 2007 so they likely cannot remember a time prior to that. They do not know what a wired phone is, rotary dial, likely a pay phone, Life without computers. Most of what we grew up with is ancient history to them.
They also have grown up with participation trophies, helicopter parents, google, Wikipedia and a host of other services that have sheltered them to an all time high. Unlike those of us who were children in the Vietnam era or during the cold war their wars have been like video games. No real impact on their lives as a select few go fight and die in their name. They have watched smart bombs fly right down the smoke stacks of targets and they have seen drones take out bad guys just like they do on their gaming system.
Now you are saying to yourself is that all bad. When taken in each individual part none of these things are bad, however when flushed with the entire process it has created a very interesting generation to say the least. This generation does not know or understand failure and adversity at all because of the things listed above. They have been sheltered from all forms of negative side effects by our government, their parents and our school system. For them truly as Gene Krantz said failure is not an option. Only they have taken that quote way out of context and applied to every walk of their life.
Because they have lead the sheltered snowflake life that we have created they have no understanding of failure whatsoever. Understanding that helps us begin to understand what drives and motivates them. Getting the participation trophy in sports when the ball rolls through their legs has not made them stronger and has not taught them how to deal with adversity at all.
Ok now the bombshell, guess who created this issue? You and me! We are at fault for creating this generation of over protected and unappreciative young adults. I thought I had all the answers and understood what happened but I find myself in the same boat.
My two boys epitomize all that my father would have hated. They are not hard workers, they are not respectful, and they do not appreciate what they have. Now I know I send like the countless generations before us that have said those “dang nab whippersnappers just do not get it” but to be honest this generation is different. Our parents always wanted us to have a better life than they did that was their goal. Their parents had the same goals. It stood to reason that we would feel the same way. The problem was we had such a good life largely due to the 80’s excess it was going to be very difficult to achieve that goal.
Our parents probably were not so concerned about the financial side of things as they were the success of our lives and living life to the fullest. My father would probably define success much differently than my sons. He spent much of his life slaving in a factory and taking every bit of overtime he could to make ends meet. His body was broken and tired by the time he hit retirement age and really never had a chance to enjoy the benefits of his hard work. My mother had been ravaged by cancer for several years but the worst moment of her life I contend occurred when she received a letter from the horrid warehouse job she slaved in terminating her employment. It was devastating news to a terminally ill woman whose only identity was that job.
I remember saying to myself I would never be like my parents. I would not slave for an unappreciative company only to die a broken shell of a person. My ticket out of that lifestyle ended up being college. My father honestly did not even appreciate what college really was he wanted me to get a job. I would never allow myself to break down in a factory and not enjoy my life. Largely my father’s ideas of me having a better life has been realized in me.
So considering my life is pretty good how could I hope to have my children in a better life than me. This is where my mistake and many like me begins. This way of thinking lead my boys down the millennial journey to the point where they are at today. Sadly I did not understand what my father meant by a better life. My 80’s generation mindset put a materialistic idea in front of my father’s thoughts.
I would purchase them everything they ever wanted, I would protect them from every scratch, I would help them get participation trophies, and I would create two “Snowflakes” ill equipped to handle any amount of adversity or challenges in their life. My father is doing flips in his grave. My father would say to us all success was not a financial thing like we failed to understand, success should have been two boys ready to handle all of the adversity life can throw at them. Success would have been envisioned with my father as the boys being able to adapt to their surroundings, pick themselves back up when things went bad, handling people in their lives who would be negative, Having a stiff upper lip and not easily offended, respectful of everyone else’s opinions and able to deal with all life presents them.
We can spend hours discussing how we got here. We can blame lot’s of other people for our mistakes which tends to be very much how the millennials deal with adversity. Or we can accept our mistakes and work hard to create an environment that helps them get to where they need to be. We can also help those that have younger children stop the process before it gets started. The toothpaste is out of the tube we have to figure out how to deal with it. This may not seem like a big issue but it the course of action of our nation for generations to come.
So what do we do? Over the next several blogs we can begin to discuss the next steps and how we as a parent can prevent it from occurring to our children. Hope you will join me on this journey.