I met with an estate planning client today to review and finalize their estate planning documents. We made small talk as copies of the signed documents were being made about the differences between kids growing up now and when we were young.
We have all read the summaries of “the way it used to be” that are floating around social media on the Internet. They are usually nostalgic looks back with some unspoken angst about the different way kids grow up today. The topic of discussion with my clients today focused on the way we used to organize our own when we were kids, compared to the organized sports and other activities that kids experience now.
Most everything is organized for kids today by adults. There were some organized activities in years gone by, like little league and scouts, but most of the time that we spent as children involved finding ways to organize and entertain ourselves. We would wear the treads off of our bike tires seeking out friends to play with and things to do. Boys would organize impromptu baseball and football games, playing games of 500 and “smear the queer” (we were not very politically correct, and we played hard). We would build towns in sandboxes and play army on dirt mounds and find a million different adventures and things to keep ourselves busy. Girls would play hopscotch, and house and so on. We would organize neighborhood games like kick the can, and red rover, and flashlight tag. We played games that had no names that we made up, sometimes on the spot.
Kids today do not know what to do with themselves. They expect to be entertained. They expect for someone to organize them. They fill their time up with cable TV, Xbox, YouTube and other forms of entertainment.
I suggested to one of my sons one day when he said he was bored that he organize a neighborhood football game. He looked blankly at me, not knowing the first place to start. I told him how we would do that when I was young and left him to his own devices. An hour or two later, I saw him and a few of his friends standing in the front yard with their football gear on from the organized youth football league, staring just as blankly, looking awkward, not knowing what to do. They never did play a game of football that day. The attempt fizzled.
Our kids are used to having their lives organized by others and, perhaps, have less initiative to do things themselves as a result. My mother did not know where I was much of my youth, and that would have been true for most parents then. Now, we keep close tabs on our children.
I recently read that “millennials” (as I am told the current generation is called) are less likely to have a driver’s license by the time that they are 18 than past generations. The statistical image in this blog article states that over 30% of millennials still live at home. The Pew Research Center reports the percentage at 36% and a whopping 56% for 18-24 year olds! I did not know anyone who lived at home after the age of 18 when I was age 18, unless they were returning home for the summer from college. (Of course, my memory may be just a little old.)
Can we really blame though? After all, we raised them!