Archive for January, 2013

Old Fart Ranting: A Note To My Kids

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

I’m so tired of seeing this particular snippet circulate around Facebook, taken out of its original context, and used to bash today’s youth over its collective head.

Teenagers - words for

It originally appeared in the South Bend Tribune, Sunday, Dec. 6, 1959, written by Judge Philip B. Gilliam.   Here is Judge Gilliam’s piece in it’s entirely, however, I encourage you to visit this link and learn the details that put the piece into context.

“Always we hear the plaintive cry of the teen-ager. What can we do? … Where can we go?

The answer is GO HOME!

Hang the storm windows, paint the woodwork. Rake the leaves, mow the lawn, shovel the walk. Wash the car, learn to cook, scrub some floors. Repair the sink, build a boat, get a job.

Help the minister, priest, or rabbi, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army. Visit the sick, assist the poor, study your lessons. And then when you are through — and not too tired — read a book.

Your parents do not owe you entertainment. Your city or village does not owe you recreational activities.

The world does not owe you a living… You owe the world something.

You owe it your time and your energy and your talents so that no one will be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.

Grow up; quit being a crybaby. Get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone, and start acting like a man or a lady.

You’re supposed to be mature enough to accept some of the responsibility your parents have carried for years.

They have nursed, protected, helped, appealed, begged, excused, tolerated and denied themselves needed comforts so that you could have every benefit. This they have done gladly, for you are their dearest treasure.

But now, you have no right to expect them to bow to every whim and fancy just because selfish ego instead of common sense dominates your personality, thinking and request.

In Heaven’s name, grow up and go home!”


I’m going to have some things to say, but first, I’d also like to bring attention to another one that circulates Facebook, entitled “To All The Kids Who Survived the 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, And 70’s”. This one drives me nuts too.

Teenagers - survived

What I’d like to say to the young people in my life,  — my sons, Kelie and Kuyler, their friends, Max, Sam, Harry, Drew, Kelsey, Seth, Natalie, and Britni – I see the value in your growing up experience.  It may have been different from mine, but it has value, and I will not devalue it by telling you how much better mine was, that you missed out, that yours would have been better if it was like mine, or any other such nonsense.  The world is a constantly changing place, and the experience of your youth reflects those changes.

Yeah, I drank water from the hose, but that was before my generation polluted so heavily that it was no longer safe to drink from the hose.

I get a kick out of this one…. “We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate worms and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes, nor did the worms live in us forever.”  Honestly guys, I never ate worms, and my husband is blind in one eye thanks to a BB gun accident in the woods. Some of the stuff we did was dangerous and stupid.

And, while this one is true, “This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever”, every generation in history has been able to boast the same, including your own.  My generation doesn’t have a corner on the intelligence market.

In fact, my generation has been pretty stupid.  Many, if not most, of the things my generation complains about in your generation are problems of our own making.  I’m not proud to acknowledge that we’ve screwed up your world, and then proceeded to place the blame on everyone but ourselves.  We’ve left you with a mess to clean up, and constant criticism won’t help.

I know I’m over simplifying the issues. I know I’m probably going to get some flak from a few of my own generation (and maybe even my own father).  I know we’re not perfect, so why should we expect you to be perfect?  We made mistakes, just as our own parents made mistakes, just as you will make mistakes.  Some day you’ll be the cranky old dude reminiscing about the good old days, and complaining about “the young people these days”.

You know what’s really ironic?  The very Facebook given to us by the generation we like to complain about, is the vehicle we use to voice our condemnation.  I thoroughly enjoy Facebook, and the privilege  of being allowed into a small part of your world.  I promise not post or “like” anything disparaging about you.  If I inadvertently stumble, saying something insensitive, I would hope you’d call me out.

What I’d like to tell you is that I think you’re intelligent, curious, and energetic.  My experience is that you ask the tough questions, and you challenge me. You keep me young. You make me laugh. You make me cry. You make my life interesting.  I love you.  I value you. I want the best for you.