Adult Boys – perhaps that’s an oxymoron or contradiction in terms? But, in my mind, it’s an apt description of many young adults today; many so-called “millennials,” of which I have two. My two are now out of the house and we are empty nesters. In many ways, I am quite happy and, to my surprise, adjusted very quickly to their absence. In other ways, I’m alarmed or concerned or just mystified (by their generation).
A recent study reflected a remarkable change in parents’ expectations for their children’s future. For the first time in memory, the majority of parents did NOT expect their children to exceed their parent’s fiscal success. And, in my opinion, this is the reality we are currently facing. I had it easier than my boys’ do and will. I was lucky. They may not be so lucky.
The parents of every generation expect and hope that their children can and will do better than they did. Ours may be the first generation, in a very long while, where it is both unlikely and unrealistic to have this expectation. This scarier world has just gotten much more complicated, much harder, and more competitive. I reflected on this in a conversation with a friend, about how much easier we believed it was for us, as we were starting out in life.
It is inescapable that America’s pre-eminence in the world is changing. Whether it’s the devaluation of our dollar as the standard currency or other factors, it is clear that we are weakening as the world’s super-power. The fall-out from this translates to our industries, our economy, and the opportunities our children will have.
One of parenting’s biggest challenges is when to protect your kids from life and when to let them learn the truth about it. This is a regular challenge for most parents and me. When I was dating, it was unclear how much I should disclose to the boys or when I should introduce them to a woman I was seeing. When their mother abandoned them and literally disappeared, did I tell them the truth about her (mental) instability or gloss over it? When my parents were ill and dying, how much did I share with the boys about the details and how much should they witness? With my 401K now a 201K, how much do I tell them about what we’re all facing in this declining and uncertain economy?