The Greatest GenerationPosted: January 8, 2013
Tom Brokaw’s book shares stories of what he defines to be the The Greatest Generation who grew up during the Great Depression and the Second World War. It depicts the self-less courage, service values and strength that some of us are lucky to know in older family members and loved ones. I am in awe of relatives from our family who lived through those hardships and was appalled when I saw on the news this week that a recent study of college kids shows they view themselves as the greatest generation. The story went on to demonstrate how their bold assertion is unfounded and inconsistent with empirical data based on their performance.
Kids often confuse what is theirs versus their parents. I remember a Cosby Show episode where one of the kids, Vanessa, told her parents she learned at school they were “rich.” Their parents told the kids they are not rich and have no money. The Huxtable kids were taught their parents worked hard and they should, too. The Huxtable kids sharply contract today’s tv kids such as Modern Family where each child has his or her own Apple laptop. The difference between needs and wants today is blurred as kids feel entitled to everything.
As a mother, commentary about today’s youth makes me think about what I hope for our boys in the future. I hope to teach them the same values that connected men and women like some of our grandparents who served in World War II. The true greatest generation did not have a false sense of importance that social media may enable. My parents share those values.
As kids, we knew we could not have whatever we wanted. I worked odd jobs from the time I was old enough to do so. It didn’t matter if I “liked” those jobs, because they were a means to saving money for school. A lot of people didn’t think being a resident assistant in college was cool, but my Mom said I had to do that to pay for room and board. I got a job selling clothes at Bloomingdales before I started my first job after school as a consultant at Arthur Andersen to earn money to buy work clothes. I wasted my fair share of money out with friends, but did it on a budget and had to cut back elsewhere.
My husband grew up the same way I did. We want our sons to share those same values. Our kids must honor their elders, work hard and learn what made the real greatest generation so special. What do you think?