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Growing up, if you had good parents, watched a given after school special, or even had any school assembly you were probably told at some point that you could be anything you wanted to be as long as you worked for it.  Maybe you knew what you wanted and went for it, maybe you didn’t.  Maybe you have realized your dreams, maybe you haven’t but the truth remains…if you wanted something, and you wanted to work for it, you could (most likely…sorry for the touch of realism or skepticism) have it.

Different generations have wanted different things.  Some generations valued security, others wealth, some others yet wanted happiness.  Today, it seems all of our current leaders of tomorrow want is to be famous.  That is very true in my household.  My kids want to have the great breakout viral video that propels them to internet fame.  Oh, Joe and Bella certainly wouldn’t mind being rich either but fame drives the day.

I could go on about how pathetic of a goal this is and how it is nothing more than a form of idolatry but that is not the focus of today’s post.  I want to take a look at a troubling phenomena that is unique to this generation.

It seems, very much unlike other generations, that there is something in play with our kids (and many others like them) that is different from any other.  It is a sense of wanting something, to a degree even feeling like they are entitled to it, and YET not wanting to work to get it.

For example, Joe and Bella are two of the greatest kids in the world who are very very different.  Yet, they share a hugely aggravating trait.  The reluctance to if not outright loathing of practice.  They have both been that way with the instruments that they have chosen to play.  They have to be reminded to practice, encouraged to practice, supported while they practice, given incentives to practice, and yes, even given a consequence if/when they don’t practice.  Nothing seems to work (to a degree Joe is the same way with Jiu Jitsu, he rarely wants to go but loves it when he does).

One thing we tell them is that if they don’t want to play said instrument that it is perfectly fine with us.  After the given concert season just turn your instrument in and move on, find something new.  That always makes the situation worse.  They want to be proficient but never want to work toward that goal.

Here is the scary thing, in generations before this one if you finally found your passion you went after it.  Now, that is not enough.  Kids today are looking at what they want, seeing how hard it is to get there, and then…stopping.  They feel it’s just not worth it if it doesn’t come easy.  Remember, these are sweeping generalizations but yet they seem to be true more than they are not.

What does this say of our society?  What does this mean for the future of our culture?  How do we expect for our country to have leaders if no one feels like it working for it?  What inventions, breakthroughs, creative discoveries can we expect if the practice, the hard work, is avoided?

But let’s get back to what matters…my sanity.  Rachel encouraged Bella to practice her cello yesterday.  Alarmed at such a request I quickly grabbed Bella (in near panic) and said, “Honey, you can do it.  Just get that thing out, get it done, and in twenty minutes you can do whatever you want.”  An hour and a half later with tears streaming down  her face her voice hoarse from crying and yelling I told her a story.  I said, you know Bella…when I was little I wanted to be a drummer.  However, I hated to actually practice the drums.  So do you know what I did?”  She replied, “Practiced?”  I told her, “No, I quit.  Actually, I lied about a lesson being cancelled, got caught, and then quit.  Honey, it’s ok to quit.”  More tears…well played dad.

Sigh.  Well, what I do know is this.  I cannot control my kids.  I can’t control their actions, I can’t control their emotions, and I can’t control their decisions.  What I can do is control how I react to all of the above (well, ideally I can anyhow).  Do I love them the way that God loves me?  Do I love them the way He loves them?  Do I join them in their emotions long enough that they don’t feel alone or do I simply make things worse by making them feel isolated and a freak?

Well, I’m going to go and grab my guitar and write a song about this.  Oh, wait, I quit that too (I was 23 then…a much more mature and less emotional decision).  I quote the great philosopher Homer (Simpson) who told his children, “Look kids, you tried and failed.  The moral of the story is, ‘never try.’  Now, put that in the closet with your pogo stick, chemistry kit, and shortwave radio and let’s go watch t.v.”


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