EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH TEENAGERS
As I enjoyed my evening bourbon the other night, I realized that I think baby-boomers are knuckleheads. Then I thought about how they think their Gen X kids are bums. They in turn believe Millennials to be snowflakes. I suppose the cycle will never end.
That said, I’m of the Greatest Generation, which means that…well….I’m pretty great. As for the rest of you, I’ve got problems with all of you. None more than today’s teenagers, though. God, they aggravate me. So as I sip my bourbon, I’m going to put on my cranky old man hat and tell you Gen X people how to fix your Millennial kids.
- PHONES – if you can’t see that your kid is fast becoming a drooling moron that stares at their phones for upwards of 16 hours a day, then you are hopeless. My grandkids won’t bring their friends around much because when they do, I try to say something to one of them, and I can’t get them to look at me while I’m talking, so I whomp them on the back of the head which hurts their feelings. It’s better than grabbing their god-forsaken phone and pounding it into the cement like I want to. Define the time that your kid can play on their phone. An hour or so in the evening and that’s it. That applies to you as well, Mom. That’s a whole other topic, ladies.
- JOBS – kids out here (generally speaking) come from upper-middle-class households. I think the average family income around here is something like $150k/year which makes you RICH to me, but it’s not cheap to live out here, so I guess that much salary makes you “comfortable”. Know who should NOT be comfortable? Your spoiled, lazy kid. I had a job at 14 bagging groceries. My dad told me I had one job to do at my new job: “The only words you need to know are YESSIR. That’s it. No matter what they ask you do, that’s your answer.” The job wasn’t sexy, but it was a job and I made money and I learned quickly that working 10 hours on your feet is not easy. YOUR kid hasn’t worked 10 hours straight in their entire lives. Want to know why Milennials get a bad rap? It’s because they enter their 20s without so much as an ounce of work ethic. FIX THAT. Kick Junior out and tell him that since he has a car, he must pay for insurance and gas, which requires a job. And tell him that if he gets fired or quits, the car can be parked until he finds a new job. Or even worse, tell him that you’re going to drive his car on your commute every day until he gets a new job. He might lose his mind at this prospect.
- COURTESY – people sometimes want to throat punch Milennials because they’re mouthy little pricks and the remedy to this mainly is going to fall to you Dads out there. When I walk into the Dodging Duck for a beer, hold the freaking door open for me. If you see your kid not doing that, a swift kick in the ass is in order. When someone talks to your kid, you should only hear the words “No sir, Yes sir” repeated again and again. If they don’t, swift kick in the ass. When your kid struggles in a class or sport, do NOT let them whine about the coach or teacher. If they do, foot to the ass. Teach them to overcome the situation, not cry about it. It’s just little things – look people in the eye. Hold doors open. Help people. Speak respectfully. I hate to tell you guys this, but if you don’t kick them in the ass about it, most of them won’t do it. Step up to the plate, parents. If you don’t, their first boss will make short work of them.
- APPEARANCE – when my kids hit their teen years, it was James Dean in the movies with cigarette smoking, rolled sleeves on white shirts, and boots. Then their kids went into the whole 80’s madness with neon everything and parachute pants. Now Milennials are prancing around in tight jeans and floppy hair. Does it look stupid? Yup. Is it anything different than what my parents said about me, and what I said about my own kids? Nope. This one is easy to fix – remember that job that Junior has to get? Well, they’re going to have a policy manual that is going to force him to cut his hair, wear particular clothes, and shave. He doesn’t like it? Oh well, the car just got parked. If it were me, I’d be strategic about it where he got a job at the Cypress Grille (or something similar) where all the employees must wear black pants, white dress shirts and focus on customer service. Mission accomplished. You’ll enjoy your Saturday evening bourbon a lot more as you watch Junior walk out the door dressed nicely to head to his job.
- DRIVING – again, I’m going to admit that every teenager since the dawn of the automobile has sucked at driving. I get that they’re going to have fender benders and speeding tickets, but I see so many of them that show such little regard for others. Cutting you off. Swerving through traffic. That type of stuff chaps me. Don’t act like you can drive well when you’ve been driving for about a week, Junior. If I were raising kids now, I’d watch the news for a horrific crash that claims a teen’s life. An awful thing to look for on the news, but stay with me. I would find the funeral info for that kid and drag my young driver down to the service. I would tell him/her before going in to watch the parents of the teen and all of his friends. We would then have a long talk afterward about how one stupid stunt in a car and that’s YOUR funeral. That’ll be a dose of cold water to the face. Oh, and I’d have one of those new-fangled GPS apps on my phone so that I could bust him/her everytime they come home for speeding. So glad they didn’t have those when I was kid. One time, I drag raced on Main Street and….well, moving on.
- BULLYING – this is both the school’s fault but also falls on you parents. We all know bullying is terrible, and yes, it’s worse than it used to be. It’s the RESPONSE that is not helping the situation. My dad told me once “Never throw the first punch, but always throw the last one.” Today a fist fight ends with legal troubles. Quit being a wuss and expecting your kid to be anything but a wuss. Look, if your kid is being bullied, teach him/her to stand up to it. That’s Lesson #1. Then explain that if the bully doesn’t stop, it’s your time to become confrontational. Then when the bully pushes you, knock his freaking lights out. Yes, many of you just gasped, and I don’t care. I can still remember with absolute clarity some of the fist fights I’ve had over the years. The thing is, they were all for noble reasons (protecting myself or someone else) and they shaped me into who I am. You guys are raising kids that get bullied and are then told to run to someone to fix their problem. Then you go online and post about how you’re going to kick the crap out of the other parent if they don’t stop. STOP. Instead, if we taught kids to stand up for themselves and others, and to take the necessary action to stop the problem…we’d not have kids freaking out and shooting up schools. It’s really no wonder it doesn’t happen more often – violence is inherent in human nature and you will never stop it. Instead, you must shape it into right and wrong and teach kids how to use it. The ones that shoot up schools are simply left with no outlet for violence and no concept of the consequence. Hell, the whole movie Back to The Future is based on a guy standing up for himself and his girl and punching the bully. And we all cheered. Can you imagine if the final scene is Marty McFly rushing off for the asshole principal to come save him? Lame. We took 18 year old kids in WWII, gave them a gun, and had them storm Normandy. Nowadays our kids are terrified of their own shadows, and have learned that it’s someone else’s job to fix their problem. Give your kids the instruction for how to properly dispatch a threat, and watch them grow the self-confidence necessary to survive the world.
- MILITARY – this applies across all generations and should be written into our Constitution. Every kid in the US, upon graduation from high school, must enlist in the military for a mandatory 2 years of service. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. I don’t care who is President, if we’re at war or not, or if you are a card carrying member of GreenPeace. Send your precious little angel off to the military for 2 years, and you will be returned a fully grown, fully matured, fully respectful man or woman. They will have served their country, learned about respect and procedure, and will understand and value human life, respect for our Veterans, and will be fully involved in politics as they will understand that starting a war is no small thing, nor is sending young men and women to fight that war. I should run for President on this very platform. Wait, I’d lose in a landslide as California, Austin, and the Northeast would faint at the prospect.
I’m not done, but my fingers are tired from typing so I’m going to go get another bourbon and do something else for a while. My whole point to this column: your kids are just that, kids. TEACH them things about how to live, and show them by living the same. Heck, these Milennial kids I’m bitching about are being raised by people that grew up with no phones, playing outside, Ronnie Reagan as President, and no internet. You have no excuses, Mom and Dad. Suck it up.