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Janet Rowse: The Apple and the Tree

The most self-indulgent generation in history is handicapping the next one. That can't be good

It’s time to talk about something few people like: honesty. I’m not talking about what we tell our children; we baby boomers need to have an honest conversation with ourselves. We need to reflect upon where we came from and how we can inspire the next generation to greatness.

When we grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s, our parents were comfortable saying, “No,” and “Do as I say, not as I do.” Our generation, as parents, bristles at that concept. Maybe we can’t stomach saying those words because we hated hearing them as children, but let’s face it, sometimes the only answer is, “No.”

Our parents wanted our lives to be better than theirs. As children and young adults they sacrificed, and, no, it wasn’t fun. Yet, what they didn’t realize was that it was their sacrifice that made them the Greatest Generation. While they sometimes told us “No,” they also wanted our lives to be better than theirs. Ironically, by giving us all the things they didn’t have growing up, they inadvertently robbed us of the opportunity to grow up to be mature adults who could postpone gratification, as well as the chance to find our own greatness. We are a generation of SIBBs or Self-Indulgent Baby Boomers.

If we didn’t procreate, this might not be so dangerous. But what we now have is a generation of spoiled adults raising the next generation. We are SIBBs and we are raising our children to be entitled — entitled to having vast material goods and adult freedoms. But even worse, we won’t allow them to suffer consequences for their actions. After all, they are our children! We don’t like our children to suffer because we don’t know what that might do to them — never having experienced it ourselves, although most of us won’t admit that.

We demand that teachers and administrators not hold our children accountable. We demand that their academic records be washed clean, lest a college or future employer ever see that they aren’t, what, perfect? Some parents even move their children out of the country to boarding schools rather than allow them to face the consequences for their immature actions and learn from their mistakes.

Something is wrong with our thinking and we must own it. It’s time for the most self-indulgent generation in history to grow up and stop handicapping the next one. It starts by checking our baggage and stepping up to our place as the adults in this world, because, unfortunately, right when we need them the most, the Greatest Generation is leaving us. It’s imperative that we discover our greatness because the next generation deserves better.

— Janet Rowse is a veteran parent volunteer in the Santa Barbara School Districts.

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