Dear “Kids These Days,” (especially teenagers), sit down, we need to talk. No, not that talk, but an important one nonetheless. I really think you need to hear these things because not enough people are saying them to you.
Kids these days take a lot of flack from adults. The very statement, “Kids these days” is usually followed by a rant. “Kids these days, they think they know everything.” “Kids these days, they have no respect.” “Kids these days get away with more than we ever would.” Or my favorite (sarcasm), “Kids these days need a good spanking.” Yeah, because getting hit by your parents is really a great way to learn respect. Again, sarcasm. I promise you, this isn’t a rant. Instead, in honor of my son’s 15th birthday, these are the real things kids these days need to hear.
Never let anyone mock your generation
Kids these days are so much smarter than adults give them credit for being. Don’t let anyone mock you. Don’t let them throw the actions of a few into your faces. Did some of you eat Tide Pods and dance in traffic? Yes. My generation, well, I’m not going to tell you what I did. Hey, I have a teenager, I don’t want to give him any ideas! My mom’s generation (the Boomers) ran through a freaking pesticide cloud for fun, though. So, next time they mock you because a very small number of you ate laundry detergent, ask them about Mr. Smokey.
Too many adults think that all you care about are video games, Instagram, and Snapchat. That you can’t function without a phone in your hand. You know what? So what if that’s true! Ask them what they cared about at 13, 14, 15, or 16. Ask them how many hours they spent trying to master Tetris, or how our parents just followed the phone cord to the end to find us for dinner.
I don’t think it’s true,though. I think you care about much more. So much more than we did at your age. You’re passionate and compassionate. You stand up when adults are telling you to sit down and shut up.
We know you have a lot to complain about
Most important of all, I want you to know that not all of us are pompous, arrogant snots who look down our noses at you and say, “what do you have to complain about?” We know that you have A LOT to complain about. My generation never participated in “how to avoid getting gunned down in math class” drills or assemblies. We never worried that we would be shot while conjugating a verb. We didn’t grow up never knowing what it was like to not be at war. We certainly didn’t have our graduation parties canceled on account of a pandemic.
Don’t get me wrong. GenX had its worries. We lived through some pretty rough times, too. So did the Boomers. So did the Invisible Generation. Oh yeah, and the Millenials. Sorry, guys, didn’t mean to forget about you. Hey, now you know how GenX feels!
You have the power to change the world
Never, ever, ever let anyone tell you that teenagers can’t change the world. Did you know that Braille was invented by a 15-year-old? Or that Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize at 17? Chloe Kim was 17 when she won a gold medal in the Olympics. Jack Andraka was 15 when he created a better way to detect pancreatic cancer cells. Anne Frank was a young teenager when she wrote her diary while hiding from Nazis. Teenagers have been making a difference, achieving extraordinary goals and changing the world for generations.
So yes, you can change the world. I’m just really sorry that you have to. I’m sorry we didn’t do it for you. Don’t count us out yet, though. GenX may be officially over the hill, but we’re still kicking. Tell us how we can do better by you. Most of us really are listening.