I wish my kids understood that my childhood was way harder than theirs.

There are some similarities between my childhood and that of my children. I recognize that. My kids have divorced parents like I did. I had a step mom when I was a teenager, too. My twelve year old has some of the same attitude problems I had.  I got "bullied" all the time.
Let's face it, kids are softer now than they used to be. My husband cracked his skull when he was a kid. If I remember correctly, his older brothers were using the two younger boys as bowling balls with sofa cushions belted to them. This happened often. Four boys is a dangerous household! Being the youngest of the four could have been deadly.
Kids today have it pretty easy by comparison. I am a fairly traditional mom but my kids still have few real struggles. I know that not everyone struggled like I did and I know that kids don't even have some of the options I did but here are just a few of the things my kids don't understand.

1. "Bullying" was tolerated. I put that in quotes because when I was a kid, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Of course, this is no longer the case. I was a really weird kid. My family was poor. I had weird hair and weird clothes that didn't fit my tall, slender body very well. My pants were always too short for my incredibly long legs. I remember being teased mercilessly starting as early as first grade. Today, there are zero tolerance policies to protect kids from this.  I said weird random things even in high school. Mostly I was trying to protect myself from the cruelty of others by trying to make them feel stupid for their teasing but really it made me look crazy. I remember junior or senior year, I really liked this boy but he made some rude comment so I proudly stated, "I only date college guys." This wasn't far off since I usually dated older, but it made me seem slightly insane.

2. I had my first job at 13. I worked in a bar for a couple years. I started as a dishwasher and eventually made it to kitchen supervisor by the time I was a sophomore in high school. I was allowed to be alone in the bar on closed days so I could thoroughly clean floors. I was allowed behind the bar. I worked basically full time while I attended high school. I started out making $3.75 an hour. When I moved and had to quit the bar, I was making $5.00. I worked so that I could have new clothes and less dorky shoes.

3. I was responsible for getting my brother and I ready for school and on the bus from age 8. My mom had to be to work at 6 and the bus didn't come until 7. It was my job to make sure we were were appropriately dressed and on the bus when it arrived. I can barely trust my kids to dress themselves appropriately. I would never dream of putting them in charge of one another!

4. I didn't get paid to babysit my siblings. My 12 year old enjoys babysitting occasionally. She is pretty good with the little ones but she only wants to do it to get paid. I don't leave her with them for more than an hour or two and she does pretty well. She begs for us to go out so she can watch the toddlers. I have figured out that when she does this, it is because she has found something she doesn't think she can live without. I don't mind giving her a little something for helping out, but what about hookin' your mama up with a little free time!?

5. If I wanted something, I had to work and save for it. I was afraid to ask for things, so I am sure that some of the things I wanted would have been no big deal but for the most part, I worked for everything I had from a young age. My $3.75 an hour job was work and I earned every penny I spent. My mom provided the necessities but the rest was pretty much my responsibility. There was no begging or asking more than once.

6. Trophies and medals for everyone. No one is keeping score. Everyone gets rewarded. This was not the case in the 1980's and 90's. You tried out for sports and kids got cut. You were a gracious loser and we all lived. You dealt with the fact that some kids are better and practiced harder for next time. 

7. I got my butt warmed on more than one occasion. I grew up in a time you could whoop your kid even in public. I came at the tail end of a time when you got in trouble at the neighbors house, their mom whooped your butt and sent you home. While you were walking, she called YOUR mom and you got your butt whooped when you got there too.

To be perfectly honest, my kids have a great childhood, BUT they will struggle more as young adults because of this. We may actually be hurting our kids by making their childhood easier. I hope that my "middle ground" will be better than the coddling I have seen so much of. Even so, I think my kids are in trouble too.

1. No work ethic. The fact that kids don't have to work for much creates a laziness. Far too many kids now have no work ethic. My kids won't even do chores consistently! The apathy is going to make working every day much harder for them.

2. Expectations and entitlement. Kids not having to work for what they have leaves them spoiled and entitled. They will be greatly disappointed in the real world when nothing is free.

3. The world is a very cruel place. The real world doesn't have anyone there to keep you emotionally safe. My husband says, "People are the worst people you will ever meet." Of course, we are less social than some but he is not wrong. People are cruel. I have said my share of mean things and even though I don't lie or fabricate information, it isn't any less hurtful. 

4. Participation awards. What does the next generation of Olympians look like? Will they throw baby fits because they didn't get medals? This goes back to work ethic and entitlement but with all of the equality going around, there will be a lot of disappointment in the world. I fear that today's children will avoid competition altogether as adults because they can't always be rewarded.

5. Kids don't know how to lose. If no one is keeping score and everybody wins, how do you learn to lose? For that matter, how do you learn to win without being a jerk about it? There has to be some opportunity to appreciate the competition. win or lose. and there needs to be grace on both sides.

6. There are less options for discipline. I am not a huge fan of spanking and generally don't do it, but frankly, time outs are useless! My 6 year old sees a behavioral therapist because he is aggressive and hyperactive. I don't use the term "hyperactive" lightly. He is #5 of 8 and I know kids will be kids. He is way beyond "normal kid" active. Now, because someone complained that kids were being over-medicated in the 90's, you have to see a behavioral therapist for ever and a day before you can get help with your kid who is dangerous to himself and others. This therapist hands me a sticker chart and tells me to reward him for doing what is expected of him. REALLY!? Something tells me this kid is going to have a rough time when there is no reward for doing what you are supposed to do and serious consequences for not doing it.

7. Life is just plain not fair! My daughter threw a baby fit when I got engaged because she didn't get an engagement ring. I am not even a little kidding. She got mad last week because I got a new bra (for the first time in 2 years). The school aged kids in my family get mad when the younger children and I eat fast food during school hours. No matter how many times I point out the things they get that the others don't, they get angry when they don't get things. I try to point out that my brothers got cars and I had to buy my own, or I had to pay off my own student loans but my mom paid for my brothers'. At least twice a week I use the phrase, "Life is not fair!" They just don't listen.

I hope I am wrong. I hope that today's children will adjust well and be perfectly functional adults. If I am right, it will be a very scary place in 10 years!

As always, thanks for reading!


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