Hope for Parenting the “Me” Generation

Baby Boomers were so bent on having better relationships with their children than they had with their own parents, they tended to set aside their primary role as parents. Their desire to be their child’s best friend spawned a self-centered, demanding, “Me Generation” who believes the world revolves around them.

Parenting in Past Generations — Too Rigid

As people grow older, they see more with the eyes of their heart than they do with those on each side of their nose. And the aging process brings people to a greater understanding of their own mom and dad’s parenting style. People often learn that things really weren’t as bad as they used to think they were. Many fathers are less than rational, with a focus more on providing for the family. Working at the same job for many years; providing is their way of showing love for their family. They demand respect. They teach their kids to be responsible because that’s the way he was taught, and he wants them to live the same way. These fathers work hard because they grew up during the Great Depression, and they know first-hand the challenges of having little to live on. They also tend to make sure that the family is protected. Food is always on the table, a roof always provided, children attend college, and the enemy he fought in the South Pacific never marched on his homeland.

Parenting in Today’s Generation — Too Relational

Then, the 60’s and 70’s came along. Some called it a revolution. Millions of “Baby Boomers” fell head over heels toward relationships and feelings of love for all mankind. The music and lifestyle expressed their desire for universal peace and love. They swooned to lyrics like “all you need is love,” and “smile on your brother; everybody get together; try to love one another right now.” There was a “whole lotta’ love” going around. And they “showered the people we love with love…showing them the way that we feel.” Then they took their desire for peace, love and affection right into their parenting style. Baby boomers as parents focused on maintaining peace and love, at all costs. They determined to have better, stronger relationships with their kids than they had with their parents; carrying out these normally good and healthy desires to an extreme. Out of financial abundance, they gave their kids everything they ever wanted, and more. Modern conveniences allowed for more free time and less responsibility. Soccer moms equipped with minivans shuttled kids from one event or activity to another, with stops at McDonald’s in-between. They indulged, spoiled and provided too much “stuff” as misguided expressions of their love.

But Love and Friendships Are Good, Aren’t They?

What’s wrong with too much love? Nothing! But there is something wrong with it if it is your only focus. To put it bluntly, placing kids on a pedestal and focusing your lives on them created feelings of entitlement. Kids begin equating your love with your pocket book and your willingness to do things for them. Their thrills in life come from getting new toys, new clothes, new honors, and new excitements. They become demanding, selfish, adrenaline junkies, searching daily for new thrills. When the excitement ends or the money train slows, they become angry. You may want to be the best parents ever, but the more you focus your attention and your money on your kids, the more they fall into anxiety, depression, and outright defiance. After all, they won’t admit it, but deep down they are terrified for what they would do after they left the comforts and indulgences of home. Perhaps you have a teenager fitting this description living in your home right now? The crux of the matter is that it is hard to be a good parent when your focus is on having peace, love and friendship with your children. This becomes especially difficult in step-families and some adoptive families. The crucial role of correcting and holding children accountable is impossible when your overriding concern is to avoid any form of damage to your friendship. But what you need to realize is that your children need parents first, not more friends. So, the big question is this: How do parents establish their position of authority, while also maintaining their relationship with their teen? In other words, how do you find a proper balance without swinging the pendulum too far the other way? Tell your teenager…”I desire to stand beside you and walk with you in life… but make no mistake; I will stand in front of you when I need to.”

Parenting the Right Way – Balanced

A simple answer is to say things like “No” and “Maybe” more often; and you need to apply boundaries and consequences when your kids cross over the line. Balanced parenting is applying strength when needed; and tenderness at the same time. It is not just one or the other, it is both. The essence of balance in parenting is to stand beside your children and walk with them through life, while also determining to stand in front of them when you need to stop them from their foolish ways. Your goal should be to help your kids get to where they want to be, and keep them from going to a place they really don’t want to end up. But since they are too immature to know any better, you need to remain in control, no matter how upset it makes them temporarily. Then, as they mature in their thinking, the reins can be gradually released. Your kids will express their appreciation when they are older for holding them in line as teenagers, and they’ll realize that you did it out of love, not to be mean or rigid. In fact, they’ll ask for advice when they have children — and the beat goes on. It’s never too late to start being a balanced parent; have a loving relationship, while also holding them responsible. Your children need your correction, wisdom, and willingness to help them travel the path God has for them. They need you to be gentle and loving, but also firm — a clear reflection of both sides of God’s character. A wise man once told me, “When you’re called to be a servant, don’t stoop to be a king.” Parents are never a more like a servant than when they willingly love a child through anything. But don’t grow weary in doing what is right, since your first job is to be an authority in your child’s life. Your teen needs a parent and a friend, but when push comes to shove, they need a parent more.