Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Kids Are All Right

I was just sitting here thinking about my largest source of pride. My son Nick. He is a great kid. Does well in school, is polite, never embarrasses himself or me.

Which got me thinking – is he a typical teenager?

I mean, I am, of course, biased. I’m his dad for crying out loud, and if he weren’t a good kid I would likely still insist he was. But he truly is a good kid. He lives with his mom, and as such I do not have daily contact with him, so I don’t know if he’s sneeking behind the water tower at school and copping a few puffs or bullying the neighborhood kids. So I ask his mom if he’s getting in any kind of trouble. Her reply: ‘Oh heavens no.’ If anything, Nick keeps to himself too much and should socialize more. But as far as warning flags as he morphs into an adult, they’re not there. Not yet, at least.

And to find out what a ‘typical teenager’ is I ask my friends and co-workers about their kids. Time and again, I hear few problems. Oh sure, there are cases of recalcitrance or worse, but it seems like the next generation is, by and large, doing okay.


Rewind back to when I was a teenager. Rebellion was the buzzword. What we did was defined very easily – whatever pissed off our parents. Back then the social construct heavily touted was the Generation Gap – the gulf of values and beliefs that existed between our parents and us. And honestly, looking back on those days, I feel ashamed. My dad was a World War II veteran who worked two jobs to put a roof over our heads and food in our snarky, disrespectful stomachs. My mom also worked, and she thanklessly and selflessly gave of herself for me and my three siblings’ betterment. And their reward was attitude from all four of us. Or worse.

Good thing abortion was illegal back in the 50’s.

There were monumental gulfs on politics, music, damn near everything between my parent’s generation and ours. Rock and roll was here to stay, and Frank Sinatra was an old fogey. We questioned political leaders while our parents respectfully obeyed them. We protested, they conformed. We opened our mouths, they kept theirs closed. We were considered disrespectful anarchists, to be shoved into a corner and a lid placed on.

So okay. Back to today. Now we are the parents. Ohh boy. Payback time, right?

Doesn’t appear so.

My son loves classic rock, the same music I grew up with. He disagrees with me on some things, but agrees on many. And the ones he does disagree with me on, we can have a discussion about with total mutual respect and without shouting or slammed doors. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I had to raise my voice to him. And he interacts with other adults in a respectful manner. Further, his peers seem to be the same way…if how they interact with me on Facebook is any indication. Gawd, this was nothing like how my dad and I interacted when I was 17.

So does this mean we’re producing a bunch of clones? No. What I think it means is we have raised a generation of kids that ‘get it’ insofar as what we have tried to impart on them. They are free-thinkers, but they seem to, more or less, embrace the same values we did. There’s no perceived Generation Gap, at least as far as I can see.

What does this mean for our future? Not ours, in terms of our generation, but in terms of how the next generation will deal with the world. Well, I think it means they will be cooperative, collaborative, and a bit cynical.

Just like we were with everyone.

Except our parents.

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