I am a GenX -er and I would like to apologize to all of humanity for the rest of my generation. Or at least a good portion of it. For you see, these are the people who gave birth to, and are raising, GenZ. Myself included. I used to be proud to be a proud, card-carrying member of the Gen-X society, but not so much these days and here's why.
First, let's start with defining GenX:
Generation X (1966-1976) (info courtesy of HowMuchDoI.com)
- Also known as GenX, this is the first generation to follow the Baby Boomers.
- This is also the first generation to be named and defined by marketers.
- Many of its members are aware of their generational title.
- Came of age in the '80s and '90s with the Reagan era, Challenger explosion, fall of Berlin Wall, Persian Gulf War, economic recession.
- The all-knowing spoiled kids of the Baby Boomers yet with fewer ambitions and less driven to change the world.
- The generation X kids are called the "latchkey" kids, exposed to daycare and family instability and this has probably shaped how they regard their family life and how the next generation, Y, is being educated. The best educated with 29 percent obtaining a bachelor's degree or higher (6% higher than the previous generation).
Note the two lines that I italicized in bold. I used to take great offense to the The all-knowing spoiled kids of the Baby Boomers yet with fewer ambitions and less driven to change the world line and still do. I think our generation is VERY driven... maybe not the same way our parents were, but driven to start our own companies, driven to know that "the man" is not going to take care of us so we do it ourselves.
Our parents raised us so that we had to work for what we got. Not everyone could win the game but everyone should be a good player. You didn't lie, cheat or steal and you respected your elders. You said please and thank you, yes sir, no sir and you knew exactly how many days you had to write (yes, with your HANDS) a Thank-You note to your Great Aunt Loyce.
We dressed based on what Seventeen magazine said and obsessed over The Preppy Handbook to make sure we were living like the Buffys of the world. Nothing came between our Calvin's or Gloria Vanderbilt's, we had every color of Izod and Polo known to mankind and said things like "fer sure" and "totally" while we cruised the streets listening to Bananarama and Van Halen. We were the generation that started playing soccer and, unlike most of our parents, 85 percent of us went to college where we joined sororities and fraternities getting our law degrees and becoming doctors or high level executives. We were the first generation to move away from our hometowns with many never coming back.
And fellow Gen-Xers, I honestly think this is where we as a generation have derailed. I don't know what we're trying to make up for in our childhood but judging the way many are raising their kids, we have lost our cotton-picking minds.
I have watched in awe at how over-indulged my kids friends are and how many of my own peers stand there with the stain from the ink of cash on their own hands. These kids are wearing Tori Burch shoes, carrying Michael Kors purses and getting brand new cars like Mercedes and BMWs for their 16th birthdays (some even before they turn 16) and Christmas. Manicures, eyebrow waxes and full body massages are expectations, not special treats. Proms have gone from a rite of high school passage to a thousand-dollar venture -- complete with "promposals" that make some marriage proposals look lame. Sweet 16 birthday party budgets are more than most of us spent on our weddings.
Failing grades are met with their parents threatening to sue the school (because Daddy's a lawyer, natch), same goes for not making the team. They have no boundaries, open-ended curfews (is it really a curfew then?) and if you want a cocktail, there's a parent who's willing to shake it up and pour it over ice. You know...because that parent wants to be the cool one. They won't think twice to take your kid to a Rated R movie without first asking permission.
I have yet to meet one kid who "deserved" a $400 handbag or brand new car. I'm sorry but it will be a cold day in hell when one of my kids will have a nicer purse, better shoes or more expensive car than me. Unless, of course, they suddenly become overnight sensations on Tumblr, Vine or SnapChat. And then I will expect the very same thing from them for the same reason they expect it from me. Just because.
This Christmas, after I heard about the 4th or 5th or 10th kid who'd gotten a car for Christmas, I threw it out to my Facebook friends and the responses were what I would expect from my friends. I am imagining the ones who were "guilty" of over-indulging opted not to respond...
I don't know too many of us that were just handed over a car when we were teens. We had to do something -- pay for half of it, pay for all of it and I guarantee you only 1 percent of us got a car nicer than the ones our parents were driving. I am completely perplexed and blown away at the entitled kids that I see on a daily basis. It's as though their parents can't see past today... are you guys not thinking what's going to happen to your kids when they leave your house? If you're giving your kids these things at 16, how will you out-do yourself when they're 18? You know what kills me even more? That they don't appreciate it and they expect it. I've even heard my own kid say it's ridiculous.
And it's not even college that I'm thinking of but after that -- when these kids have to finally get a job and stand on their own two feet. Will they know how to do this? I don't see how they will because even in college you just kept shoveling money at them so they could focus on "studying" (aka socializing). What happens the first time they encounter a conflict with a coworker or don't like what their boss says.? Will you fly to them and march in there? I have to hope and pray that even you, Gen-Xer parent, will say "no way!" but how will your kids handle it if you've never put them to task?
Look, I'm not judging you. I think it's great that you want to give your kid everything our parents didn't give us but could you do it a bit more in moderation and perhaps throw in a lesson or two on responsibility? Instead of just giving your kid a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, maybe think of a 2010 and having them pay $100 a month to the Bank of Parent? Encourage them to get a part-time job even if it's "only" babysitting or pet walking? And from the money they earn, maybe encourage them to put half in savings? The one thing that I feel pretty confident in is that while your kid may love the fact that you're giving them designer things today, one day they'll wish you had taught them how to budget.
So that's it, fellow Gen-Xer... what say you my parachute-pant-wearing friends?