Stop Berating and Shaming Our Youth

Over the past week, I have seen three articles asking why more teenagers don’t have jobs. The response ranged from understanding the hectic schedules of today’s youth to an overwhelming number of statements meant to belittle, berate, and shame the younger generation.

Back in my day…

The words following this statement usually anger me.

Back in my day, kids all had jobs.

Back in my day, kids didn’t act like this.

Back in my day, children were seen and not heard.

Back in my day, kids were in bed when the sun went down.

Back in my day, we worked in the fields, went to school, and did chores.

Today’s kids have more pressure than the older generation had “back in the day.” Society expects more from our youth, and the older generation often fails to offer them support or appreciate their hard work.

A lot of teens have jobs today, but not every teen has time for a job. While the baby boomers may have indeed worked in the fields, went to school, and did chores, they often did not finish school and some only learned basic reading and math skills. Education did not require the dedication and time that it does today, and it was not a priority in many families. Today’s youth are expected to be prepared for college, obtain a lengthy list of extracurricular activities, and often take college courses for dual credit while still in high school. They spend a great deal of time performing research for school projects, writing term papers, and taking preparation and study courses for college entrance exams like the ACT. Leadership conferences, BETA conventions, volunteer requirements, and practice for extracurricular activities fill their afternoons and summers. A typical teen requires more study time than the hours of a part-time job. They still help around the house, too.

In today’s job market, you work for minimum wage or you further your education. There is very little in between, and retirees have a misguided view of this reality. Baby boomers continue to assert their belief that we do not need an increase in minimum wage and minimum wage jobs are just for teens. They fail to understand that an education is a requirement for moving away from a low-paying job. In order to survive as an independent adult, they must spend more time prepping than many baby boomers spent working in fields, going to school, and doing chores combined. Ask any teen how many times they are up past midnight to complete their school work and you will have a better understanding of their busy schedules. If today’s youth went to bed early, they would flunk out of school or suffer with a low GPA because they couldn’t complete their work.

Kids today don’t have it easier. They must work harder than ever before to afford basic things once they leave the nest. The gap in wages and the cost of living has vastly increased and continues to grow. A degree is almost a necessity, and many colleges have enough acceptance requirements to completely fill a teen’s high school schedule. If you don’t currently have a teen living at home, you have no idea how often they are overwhelmed and feel like they are drowning. There is so much pressure, and the older generation fails to offer support. They continue to scream about how kids today are lazy and have it made. This is far from the truth.

While baby boomers scoff at the very idea that a child dares to speak or stand up for themselves, they fail to see the sharp increase in teen suicide plaguing our country. Children face criticism from their peers and are mocked by their elders. Our youth aren’t receiving the encouragement they need to make it through some of the most difficult years in their life. We are supposed to serve as a support system, but baby boomers often utter harsh words and condemnation. They are berated and called “soft,” yet those same people hurling insults have created impossible situations and given them unrealistic expectations. It sets them up for what they deem personal failure as they cannot meet the demands of a generation that simply does not understand the modern world. It is unacceptable to expect so much from our children while society casts blame on them for the current state of affairs.

In the modern world, kids still have jobs.

In the modern world, some are well-behaved, and some aren’t. (Same as back in the day)

In the modern world, kids must be seen and heard because their responsibilities require it.

In the modern world, kids are up late to meet the demands society placed upon them.

In the modern world, kids have jobs, go to school, do chores, attend after-school activities, volunteer, stay up late to study, use weekends and summers preparing for college, spend several years researching schools and filling out college and scholarship applications, take four or more years to earn a degree, find a job, and spend a big portion of their income to repay student loans. They do all of this - and more - while listening to the older generation complain that they’re not doing enough.

Our future depends on our youth. We must stand up and say no more. We must realize the difficult situations our children face each day. We must stop telling them they are failures and aren’t living up to the demands of yesteryear while they jump through a long series of hoops to reach goals many of us never attained. Our children deserve more. They deserve better. The standards of “back in the day” have no place in modern society, as the world is far different. What was required of the generations before us isn’t enough to survive the fast pace of the changing job market. The younger generation is forging ahead. Let’s support them.

Amy Pilkington was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. In fact, the rural town is so small that cows outnumber people. She still lives in that same little county, but she wants to be a beach bum when she grows up. Pilkington is married to a great guy and has four wonderful children, two spoiled dogs, and a beautiful granddaughter. This introverted writer has a broad range of interests and a tendency to bore quickly, which explains her varied works in multiple genres. Regardless, her works tend to delight readers and keep them coming back for more. Her series devoted to the pinup girls of World War II continues to draw in new fans thirsty for a glimpse into the lives of the starlets who lit up the silver screen during the war. She intends to continue feeding her fans a wide array of reading material.
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