Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Millennials ….are WE to blame?

I read an article recently on The Atlantic website that has to do with questions I have been asking myself lately in reference to my own issues as a parent, and in listening to other parents talk about what is going on with their adult kids.

Here is the link to that article:

We often hear stories of “millennials” and how unmotivated they are, how they are struggling in life, how they are depressed and unhappy, and we wonder WHY?  We blame video games, drugs, laziness, social media, teachers, and society, trying to find something to pin this on, and to possibly correct!

 But, is that really it?

If you go back and think about when our grandparents were children, they were going through the Great Depression and had to do everything they could help their family and to survive. They were expected to work, even if it meant they couldn’t finish school. After a while, schools changed their schedules to accommodate kids working on their family farms.  When they became parents, they wanted for their children what THEY didn’t have, an education! Their priority was their kids going to college, and becoming something other than general labor. They sacrificed and saved so they could get their kids a good education. Not all kids did that, though, some served in the military, which was also regarded as a very honorable path in life.
Their children, our parents, were mostly college educated. It was easy to go to college for an education in a chosen field, and then graduate and go right to work in that field.  People got married young, started their families in their 20’s, owned a home, took vacations, established communities, and raised their families.  It was expected that their children, us, would go to college and have the same life.  A lot of us did, but some just finished high school and went right to work.  Employment was different then, you could get a good job at 18, stay in that company for your entire career, build a great retirement, have medical insurance for your family and earn enough money to afford the American dream of home ownership and having a family.

In the 60’s and 70’s, life was changing.  The youth were rejecting the American Dream, rejecting war, rejecting rules in society, and proclaiming that we should all drop out, get high, and love who ever we want with no strings attached. Of course we didn’t all do that, but we saw it on the news, we listened to it in our music, and we experimented with it to see if it fit us. Most of us still wanted the American Dream, and we finished school, started our careers, bought our houses, and had our families. Some did not, or at least not as early as our parents did. But getting a divorce was more accepted and the divorce rate rose which created broken families and a whole new set of dynamics. Also, now BOTH parents had to work so kids were often in day care. And when the parents were home, they were so exhausted they plopped the kids in front of the TV or video games to keep them busy. Family life became more chaotic. Kids were acting out. Smoking, drinking and drugs started earlier in our kid’s lives. They developed a disregard for any authority.
We all wanted to know how to handle our kids, what was going on?  We turned to the experts!

In the 70’s and 80’s, there were so many books written on parenting, and we read them and tried to figure out how to be good parents. We were told to protect our children’s self-esteem!  We were told to praise them for everything they did. We were cautioned against spanking, that it would teach them to be violent. We worried about the food we fed them, their sleep habits, making sure they were busy all the time, and just making sure they had everything they needed.  If they were having trouble in school, we confronted teachers instead of our kids. If their sports teams lost, they still got trophies. If they got bullied, we took care of it. We pampered them, and we thought if we made them feel loved and protected, they would grow up to be strong responsible adults. Some of us really worked hard to be excellent parents. We developed close relationships, supported every endeavor they showed an interest in, built our world around our beloved child.
Then, the child starts making decisions we don’t like, and we are deeply disappointed, even to the point of anger. It’s because of our parental investment.  The higher the investment, the deeper the disappointment.

As a result, our millennials are not handling life well. They don’t seem to know how to cope with adversity, or even just reality of being on their own. So, they are unhappy, depressed and anxious. They seek careers that make them happy and fulfilled, they don’t want jobs where they just work for a paycheck. They refuse to do that!!

 Is it our fault? I kinda think so!

We didn’t let them learn how to cope with life, suffer losses, figure out how to deal with bullies, find out there is consequences for bad behavior at school and at home. WE protected them from everything!  They ruled the home and then they get to the real world and it’s not like that!
We don’t understand why they can’t just go out and get a job so they can pay their bills, and be an adult! But, getting employment really is different today than when we entered the workplace. There are very few jobs available, especially if you are just a high school graduate. And going to college rarely prepares you for gainful employment, even if you find a job in your field, there are lots of applicants.

We did too much for them. We basically handicapped them. We are still doing it, because we now feel like we are the reason they struggle.  We feel guilty because they are having a rough time, and we can’t stand that, so we help. We don’t realize it, but we are still protecting them from life! It makes us feel better, but it solves nothing.
Life is different now than when our grandparents were alive. Every generation parents differently.  We all do the best we can with what we know. But, maybe it’s time to sit with our millennials and talk to them about the mistakes we made, and are still making, and tell them we will treat them like adults from now on. We won’t try to protect them anymore. We will love them, and be happy for them, but they are in charge of their lives from this point on.

Of course, there are times when they really may need our help and support, but they need to ask for exactly what they need, and we need to make sure they really can’t attain it on their own before we step in.

This is all just my opinion and my experience; I am not an expert in anything! Please don’t substitute my judgement for yours.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

50 Things That Make Me Happy

       1.       Cleaning the house to really loud rock n roll music, ACDC, Ted Nugent, Nirvana, etc.

2.       Cadbury Mini Eggs

3.       When my Grandsons run to me when they see me to give me a hug!

4.       Road trips in the Sportsmobile

5.       Hiking anywhere

6.       Starting a new painting

7.       Sitting outside in the sunshine listening to music and enjoying my cold drink

8.       Boat rides

9.       Hawaii

10.   Traveling to new places, Norway, Iceland, England, Ireland, Italy,

11.   All Beatle music

12.   The smell of rain on pavement and dirt after warm weather

13.   Fixing/repairing something myself

14.   Laughing so hard I cry (or pee!)

15.   Being moved to tears by a story or movie

16.   Summer evenings

17.   Vent sessions with my best girlfriends

18.   Living so close to my parents and sister

19.   A good hair day

20.   Sunshine

21.   Singing loud in my car

22.   Taking a nap

23.   Starbuck’s Black Tea Lemonade with one Splenda

24.   Dogs

25.   Peanut butter blossom cookies

26.   The first snow of the year

27.   Sunrises and sunsets on Lake Tapps

28.   Mt. Rainier

29.   Mexican food

30.   Clean fresh sheets on the bed

31.   Finding money in my pocket, or in my husband’s jeans when doing laundry

32.   Looking at old family photos

33.   Listening to someone playing guitar around a campfire

34.   Tulips

35.   Watching whales breach and eagles flying

36.   Walking through a field of wildflowers

37.   Grilled cheese sandwiches

38.   Peaches and scones with heavy cream

39.   Blackberry pie and ice cream

40.   Hearing the rain on the roof when I’m snuggled in my bed.

41.   Lightning and thunder

42.   Rude birthday cards

43.   Reading a good book

44.   Watching old movies on Sundays (when there’s no football)

45.   Seahawks games

46.   Getting a big hug from my son

47.   Watching America’s Funniest Videos

48.   Candlelight

49.   Coffee in the morning

50.   Hearing kids laughing
How about you?

Friday, March 17, 2017

When Counseling Doesn’t Help

Sometimes I wonder why counseling doesn't help. Is it because of the counselor or because of the patient?
I have had some experience with going to counseling. I started going to learn better ways to handle my child who was acting out. I knew I was the one who needed help. There were times I sent my child in, but it didn’t work well because he wouldn’t cooperate, he resisted going, so…. I went.

I found someone with great common sense, who seemed to ask the right questions, and who I felt comfortable sharing my fears and concerns with.  She helped me, but in the long run, my difficulties with my child ran their course, and we went through some really tough times. One time, I talked with her about someone in my life, (not my child) and she asked me to bring him in. After she met and talked with that person for one session, she told me that I needed to get away from him as soon as possible for my sake and for my child’s sake. My friends and family had told me that already, but I didn’t believe it until my counselor told me! I think it was because I thought they just didn't like him, so I didn't trust that their advice was correct. I truly thought I just needed to work things out better with him. When my counselor said it, I believed it, and I did it!

Counseling helped me because I felt comfortable talking to her, I felt she understood and gave me great advice and things to think about. Counseling didn’t help my child because he didn’t want any part of it.

When my son was older, he sometimes went to counseling, but he said it was too easy for him to direct the conversation by only telling the therapist what he wanted to tell them. He wasn’t getting anything out of it because he wasn’t putting anything in to it. He is the type of person that seems to want people to prove their authority before he gives it to them. He has always been that way with any authority; teachers, law enforcement, other parents, friends, etc., he tests people, and he judges them and decides whether they are worth it or not.

My husband’s child goes to therapy, but I don’t see it helping either. He tells his dad that he can steer the counseling session where ever he wants. He’s can manipulate it. He won’t get anything out of it that way. I don’t know why he continues to go, unless it’s just that he likes to talk about himself. It makes me wonder why a therapist can’t see through that, but ultimately they are working with what they know.
I know other families who have difficult situations going on, and have been trying counseling, but again, they only get the little information that the child chooses to share, so how can there  be any resolution or improvement. The parent in this family is intending to go in and put out all the cold hard truth as they see it, and they are hoping it will help this situation. We’ll see I guess.

It’s just too bad that there isn’t a way for a counselor to ask enough questions to start challenging a patient on their true thinking. I guess it could cause someone to stop therapy, but is it really helping them if you don’t?
I think when counseling isn’t working, we need to stop, and continue looking for someone with more experience in certain areas.  We need to find someone who deals better with what is really going on. I know there are two sides to every problem, and I may only see my side, but the other party may only be seeing their side too! There HAS to be a way to really work things out objectively!

The reason I went to counseling for myself during all my years of issues with my child was because I couldn’t MAKE him do anything, so I worked on how I handled the problems, my part in it, and how to move on. It was still hard, and it didn’t save me from going through any of it, but I needed that person to talk to during all of it. She was objective, uninvolved emotionally, and THAT is what I needed and why it helped me.