It is the way of the world that our children’s work ethic is not as strong as ours. Our collective work ethic has been driven by the times. The more affluent the United States has become, the more our work ethic has weaned. This is natural from two standpoints.
First, our life situation is our greatest motivator. When we wake up each day unsure if we will be able to put food on the table, we have an absolute, 100 percent focus on doing what we need to survive. When we have a relatively stable life situation, with a roof over our head and stocked kitchen cabinets, we don’t have near the same level of tension about our survival.
Second, the prime directive for any parent is to enable their children to have a better life than they had. Toward this end, we do what we can to make our children’s lives easier and more comfortable.
Our parent’s grandparents lived through the great depression era where they had to exist day to day. Their world was one where bread lines and tent cities were common and they would do whatever work, wherever, whenever, to allow their families to survive.
Having grown up during the great depression, our parent’s parents became the “Greatest Generation.” The country had mostly rebounded from the Great Depression and people generally achieved a basic level of subsistence.
Their character having been forged by the trials of their youth, they resolutely answered the call to save the world from the spread of fascism during World War II and then became the foundation to the country’s ensuing economic boom.
Their children grew up during a time when our country saw significant development. The middle class that became the foundation of our country blossomed. Our parent’s youth was reasonably comfortable and the first that had the normalization of entertainment as a routine part of life.
We had the good fortune of growing up during a time of overall comfort. Advances to basic household items like refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners made life much more convenient. The little treats like eating out became more common and we saw the emergent elements of common technologies make their way into our lives.
While supported in great part by debt, the world we live in today is one of marked affluence. Our children’s lives are such that an overwhelming majority of the children on the planet can only dream of experiencing.
Why is it important to take a step back and put this all into perspective?
We need to recognize both the strengths and weaknesses of our youth today, and do our part to help them maximize their strengths and to understand and address their weaknesses. Yes, just as we did not have the same work ethic as our parents, they do not have our work ethic.
Our challenge is to help them see the value in, and to develop, the kind of work ethic that will be instrumental their success in life. We can’t do this by bemoaning it. We can only do this by first understanding it ourselves.
Then take a productive approach in trying to help our youth understand the world that they are coming into, and how to mitigate against the convenience that surrounds them and understand how much hard work is coming their way. As well as dealing with the difficulties that they will face on their life’s journey.