KRISTINA BEERS: Parenting creates good and bad of the next generation

As you know, I have five teenage sons. One is approaching 20 this birthday and while I’m sure in the grand scheme of things, a 20-year-old child is nothing, it still feels like a milestone to me.

This puts all of my kids as a part of the (unofficially designated) Millennial generation. I am fascinated by research that studies traits of people from different generations: birth rates, values, political involvements and lifestyles. I am completely aware there are outliers in any one thing, including generational definitions, but the majority still fits.

For example, as a Generation Xer, I have an affinity for grunge music, have experienced great political uncertainty as a youth and, of course, learned to stretch a phone cord halfway up the stairs to have a semi-private conversation. I am completely attuned to the fact my generation is most certainly less unified in patriotism than my Baby Boomer counterparts and that we will have to work longer to reap the benefits Boomers realize.

Many people criticize the Millennial generation, mostly for what is perceived as their lack of accountability, sense of entitlement and comic need for naps. Do a Google search for Millennial memes and you will know what I mean. I find it both alternately funny and sad at the same time because I know where the root of most traits lie: with me.

You see, if kids are living at home longer, it’s really mom and dad’s issue. If they are unreliable workers, with a major sense of entitlement, then they had too many trophies and rewards as kids. If they are falling away from religion, then they weren’t being brought up in a home where it was important.

I know the fruit that comes from the hard work of parenting has many variables. I recognize each and every one of my boys can be found sporting many negative traits — some of it is simple teenage-hood, some of it is truly generational, but most of it is our parenting. 

While I can commiserate with moms and dads about parenting in a technology age, I need to also remember I survived; so too can my kids. They don’t need a phone 24 hours a day. Each one has chores and responsibilities for the good of the family, which means no allowance. They go where the family goes and are really not given much of a vote for many things.

I believe all this is good for character development, virtuous living and forming responsible adults. I am aware of a dangerous trait of Xers called “Helicopter Parenting,” with which I find myself flirting on the precipice occasionally. I hope to be an outlier and create a foundation for some strong, composed, virtuous and responsible citizens. Wish me luck!

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults.