There is one thing that parents, from generation to generation, are getting worse at teaching their kids. I am guilty of this, and my parents were guilty of this as well. I’m not sure when it started, but it is a trend that needs to stop before it ruins the world.
We are guilty of not teaching our children patience.
But patience is desperately needed. Meaningful relationships cannot be cultivated without patience. Long term job satisfaction cannot be had without patience.
This is something leaders can really run with, if they choose to do so. Teaching other patience is something that can be done at any level.
The people that survived the Great Depression remember when getting a biscuit was a good day. They remember a time when 3 meals a day was a memory. They remember having a set of clothes without holes or patches (those were generally the work or looking for work clothes, all other clothes had holes or patches). Can you imagine that? I cannot. I have different dressers for work clothes and “working around the house” clothes, and I’m a guy.
Those people were the “Silent Generation.” They knew a time when the word “luxury” had no meaning. And they determined that their children, the “Baby Boomers” would want for nothing; that their children would never know hunger and strife.
And the Baby Boomers learned this lesson well. This was the first generation where it was common for both parents to work. More income meant more unnecessary items could be purchased. This was also the generation that coined terms such as “latch-key kids” (the parents were not home when the kids got out of school, so the kids had their own key). The children of the Baby Boomers, now called “Gen-X,” wanted for nothing, except time with their parents. The only things these children did not have were the things money could not buy.
I remember living in a house with a big underground pool in the back yard. My parents had motorcycles, my father had a riding lawn mower, we had a pool table in the garage; and I remember my father coming home every night, plopping down in his chair, and being too tired to spend much time with my sister and I.
But the Gen-Xers like their toys, and learned that toys equaled fun. Life is grand as long as you have enough toys, which is why the average “Millennial,” the children of the Gen-Xers, had a cell phone by the age of 8, and why “Gen-Z,” the children of Millennials, grow up reading and playing games on a tablet.
What we are getting worse at teaching is patience. Children get trophies for showing up. They are told things like “no child left behind;” which does not mean that all children will have the skills to graduate but that they will get a degree whether or not they deserve it.
Patience is more than a virtue. Patience is needed to develop meaningful relationships. It is needed to learn and grow at a job, where showing up does not get you a trophy or a raise. We have children so used to being congratulated for showing up that they are demanding a higher minimum wage because they got to work on time most days. Minimum wage was never meant to be a livable wage; minimum wage was supposed to be a tease, something to show people that, if they worked hard and learned a skill, they could get even more of that fun paper.
This is a generational problem, and one that can be changed, but it will take one thing to change it: Patience. We need to learn more patience. It may take as many generations to change this as it took to start it, but if we don’t change, if we don’t learn to be much more patient, the world as we know it will cease to exist.