Kids These Days

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How many times have you heard it?  Kids these days are so disrespectful.  Kids these days are too entitled.  Kids these days are just self-absorbed brats. 

Too many times, I’m guessing.

Are kids these days disrespectful?  Of course they are.  Just as disrespectful as our generation and our parents’ generation and our grandparents’.  It’s what every generation says about its youth.  It’s nothing new.

Are they entitled?  Yes.  Yes, they are.  But what are we adults doing to change that?  Not much.  I’d say it’s more something we need to look inward about than project outward.

Are they self-absorbed brats?  Definitely.  What child isn’t?  Until we teach them humility and philanthropy and empathy, they will remain so.  It’s our responsibility as their parents and teachers to broaden their perspectives and draw out their sense of humanity.

But for all the times you’ve heard those, how many times have you heard this? Kids these days are so compassionate and thoughtful and responsible. 

Not many, I’m sure.

Why don’t we hear that more often?  After all, kids these days are taking care of their fellow man in ways my generation never did.  They’re reaching out to those in need, making classmates with special needs feel accepted, pursuing volunteer work and careers that benefit others, and contemplating what they can do to leave positive marks on their communities and countries.

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org
Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org

Kids these days are making a difference, and it’s about damn time we recognize it.

Take these middle school football players from Michigan, for example.  On their own, without pressure from any adults, these kids concocted a plan to help make the day of one of their teammates with disabilities.  They sacrificed themselves and their own stats to make it possible for their teammate to score a touchdown, surprising him and everyone else in the crowd, including the coach.  They committed a random act of kindness — a selfless deed — in an effort to make someone else happy.

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Or how about these 10 high school students making a difference in the lives of others?  Whether they are working with the American Cancer Society to clean up cigarette butts in public areas or volunteering in events geared toward underprivileged youth, these teens are putting others ahead of themselves, donating their free time and their organizational skills to making a positive impact on their communities.

And who can forget Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who, as a preteen, risked her life as an advocate for educational equity among boys and girls?  This young woman believes so strongly in her cause that she was and still is willing to brave the Taliban in an effort to push for educational opportunities for women and girls.  I can not think of an adult as courageous as she.

It’s easy for us to find fault with society and to place blame on the most vulnerable of our population.  It’s also easy for us to focus on the bad, for when it comes down to it, that seems to be all we hear about on the news and in the papers.

But we must recognize our children who are doing amazing things every day.  These kids are facing educational and career pressures none of us had to deal with on this level — high stakes standardized tests, grueling college admittance competition, impossibly expensive higher education costs, and an overly saturated job market.  They are inundated with commentary about how spoiled and thoughtless and bad they are, yet they defy great odds and do remarkable things.

It’s time we took a moment to praise them for all the good things they do, for in truth, the good outweighs the bad.  It’s time we let these kids know we see and value them.  It’s time we tell them we appreciate them.

Have you thanked a teenager today?