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My Parents Generation

Updated on April 1, 2015

What can I say about my parents’ generation? As I sit at my desk wondering what I could possibly say about the baby boomers and those from Generation X, it takes all of my self-control not to write a rant article about how my parents’ generation has destroyed the American dream for their children and have the nerve to blame us for it. Oh, how many times have I heard them utter the typical clichés of how lazy and self-serving my generation is? How many times has an argument ended with my own father criticizing me as being lazy and expecting everything to be handed to me when, in fact, I ask for very little. I am twenty years old, accruing more debt as I complete my last two years at Rutgers, work at a part-time job earning slave wages, and I have had enough of being blamed for the merciless society that exists today. Okay, maybe this will be a rant article after all! Does the blame really rest on the shoulders of millennial’s such as myself, or can we turn back the pages of history and glean a few lines that might explain why my generation is constantly labeled with the aforementioned stereotypes?

One of the first examples that comes to mind that might explain how my generations attitudes were developed is a YouTube video of a young Fred Rogers, more famously know as Mr.Rogers, the host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. In this video, he appears before the Senate Subcommittee on communications in 1969 appealing for a $20 million dollar fund for the newly created PBS network. Fred Rogers was a very unique man in that he was one of the first people to incorporate child psychology into his television program. Fearful for what contemporary children were viewing on television as being too violent, Mr.Rogers aimed to create a program where children could learn about controlling their emotions and learn how to interact with one another as friends and as human-beings. His is one of the first accounts that I know of where he emphasizes the belief that we are all special in our own way and that we should not be too harsh on ourselves. At one point during the appeal, Mr.Rogers says, “I give an expression of care every day to each child to help him realize that he is unique. I end the program by saying, you’ve made this day a special day by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you and I like you just the way you are.” Sound familiar? This is the same mantra that was preached to me as a child and is still being preached to children all over the country in a more aggressive way. Obviously, Fred Rogers’s heart was in the right place, but he laid the foundation for a world where everybody is special and where everybody is deserving of a trophy.

I believe it is in these teachings that my parents’ generation was lead to believe that they were incredibly important individuals who would ultimately give birth to children who were more important and special than everybody else’s. I hope it is becoming more clear why it is unfair to blame millennial’s for their supposed ego-centric views. These ego-centric attitudes were instilled within us by our ego-centric parents. “These kids these days expect to be given high paying jobs straight out of college and simply demand too much,” a distressed baby boomer or Generation X’er might say. Maybe we are an ambitious generation? Maybe we understand that finding any kind of employment in the present job market will be difficult, so all’s we can do is dream of achieving success and financial stability?


Aside from being criticized for being too soft and lacking a thick skin, something those who raised us should have thought about before they decided to throw us a pizza party for losing in athletic events as children, this article will also debunk the myth that Millennial’s are inherently lazy. No, my generation is not lazy, but when you have been lead hand-in-hand by overprotective adults who constantly fret over children’s self-esteem, sometimes it is hard to take the initial step to individuation. Regarding our laziness towards finding work, let’s take a look at the unemployment rates since 2003. This table presents to us the unemployment rates before and after the recession. One should take particular notice on the slow, yet steady, decline in the unemployment rate after the 2008-2009 recession. It is important to note the slow decrease in the unemployment level because it provides us with evidence that job growth in the United States is being hindered by peoples inability to spend due to their unemployment, a vicious cycle! (I apologize if I have oversimplified the complex economic issues of contemporary society, and if you wish to correct me, please leave a comment below!)

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
 
2003
5.8
5.9
5.9
6.0
6.1
6.3
6.2
6.1
6.1
6.0
5.8
5.7
 
2004
5.7
5.6
5.8
5.6
5.6
5.6
5.5
5.4
5.4
5.5
5.4
5.4
 
2005
5.3
5.4
5.2
5.2
5.1
5.0
5.0
4.9
5.0
5.0
5.0
4.9
 
2006
4.7
4.8
4.7
4.7
4.6
4.6
4.7
4.7
4.5
4.4
4.5
4.4
 
2007
4.6
4.5
4.4
4.5
4.4
4.6
4.7
4.6
4.7
4.7
4.7
5.0
 
2008
5.0
4.9
5.1
5.0
5.4
5.6
5.8
6.1
6.1
6.5
6.8
7.3
 
2009
7.8
8.3
8.7
9.0
9.4
9.5
9.5
9.6
9.8
10.0
9.9
9.9
 
2010
9.8
9.8
9.9
9.9
9.6
9.4
9.5
9.5
9.5
9.5
9.8
9.3
 
2011
9.1
9.0
8.9
9.0
9.0
9.1
9.0
9.0
9.0
8.9
8.6
8.5
 
2012
8.3
8.3
8.2
8.1
8.2
8.2
8.2
8.1
7.8
7.9
7.8
7.8
 
2013
7.9
7.7
7.6
7.5
7.6
7.6
7.4
7.3
7.2
7.3
 
 
 
http://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=LN_cpsbref3

Our search for employment only becomes harder after we add in the fact that we are not only competing for part-time and full-time employment with other millennial's, we are also competing with our older counterparts who have been laid off from their full-time positions and are looking for employment to support their families. Add in the additional group of elders who were forced to come out of retirement to support themselves and it almost becomes impossible to find something, almost.

No, my generation is not lazy. We simply have a lot of hurdles to jump over.

Regardless of how you feel about Millennial's and how we feel about you, we all need to realize that we are in the same predicament facing the same future. As the cost of living continues to rise and wages do not, we will all end up suffering. Perhaps Baby boomers, Generation X'ers, and even Millennial's all have to grow a thicker skin, stop asking how I can further advance my own place in the world, and come together to force change through action.

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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 3 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Excellent and insightful article. Each generation has a different lifescript. The economy is indeed perilous as jobs are being continuously outsourced overseas, a college degree is similar to what was high school decades ago, technology is advancing at a furious pace, and the definition of work has metamorphed to an unrecognizable degree. Milennials are in a world vastly and divergently different from Boomers and Generation X. It is a whole, new BRAVE world beyond description!

    • Travis Kaoulla profile image
      Author

      Travis 3 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank you so much for your comment, gmwilliams. What bugs me the most about my older counterparts, especially those who make decisions for the country as a whole, is how effortlessly they sell out their own people! I believe that our politicians, who I believe are mostly baby boomers and Generation X'ers, are authentic products of their upbringings and show it through their selfish, egocentric, and carefree attitudes towards others and their struggles.

    • profile image

      graceinus 3 years ago from those of the Ekklesia

      1936 America's unemployment 28%. 2013 America's unemployment 7%. Are you going to blame Mr. Rogers for the condition of America in 1936 too.

    • Travis Kaoulla profile image
      Author

      Travis 3 years ago from New Jersey

      Of course not! That would be ridiculous. I did not blame Fred Rogers for the economic recession of 2008-2009. I suggested that he, along with many others like him, helped to create an environment where people feel as though their needs should always come first. My arguments between our societies ego-centrism and the stereotype that Millennial's are lazy should be read as two separate issues in one article. I apologize for the confusion.

    • profile image

      Atomic 24 months ago

      “These kids these days expect to be given high paying jobs straight out of college and simply demand too much."

      Ha! My boomer father was given a job at GM in 1971 for $4.19 an hour (Over $24 an hour today) plus all sorts of goodies WITHOUT even one day of college! Even engineers don't start out that well out of college. Not to mention housing was dirt cheap then. I think it will help to understand the older generations more when you understand that they are basically children that have never really had to grow up because things were just so good in their day, and they don't realize what it's like to actually have to do more than show up.

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