Slackers

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I hate it when this happens. I think I’m all sorts of smart, like I’m on to something, and then Bam. I’m reminded I’m not so smart after all, and I may have actually been doing this all wrong. I, in all my infinite wisdom, decided to raise my kids to always try their best. To do things that resonated with them. I proclaimed that I will have been successful as a parent if I raise my children to be kind people who make a difference in this world, in whatever way resonates with them, so long as they also make a living doing something legal that pays the bills.

I wanted to get away from all the helicopter parenting. I wanted to get away from the Asian culture I grew up in, where children fulfilled parents’ wishes instead of what interested the children, and their only goal was to be the best at everything, at any cost.

So I allowed my kids to choose the activities that interested each of them. I supported and celebrated their efforts and experiential learning instead of end results. I stressed the process of things, the connections and relationships with people, the experience of things. I thought all of this sounded reasonable. I thought this sounded like a more civilized approach to parenting. I thought this was good for their mental health and well-being. I thought it would raise future good citizens and stewards of the world.

Any or all of that may be true. But apparently, along the way, I have also raised the World’s Laziest Children. Holy Slackers, Batman. I have raised two of the least motivated slackers you will ever meet. They may be kind. They may be thoughtful. They may be charming. But my God, they are bums.

Let me be clear–I don’t believe one ought to be rewarded for effort only–when one team loses,  everyone should not get a trophy. Methinks you ought to suck up the fact that you lost. Nice try, but you lost, kid. So many lessons to learn from losing. Let me be clear also that I make my children do chores, as an expectation for being part of the family and not for an allowance. They are required to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, fold and put away laundry, feed the cat, and vacuum the house. Yard work as needed. Everything you touch? Put it back where it belongs, please.

But my God, you’d think I was asking them to recreate Stonehenge with their bare hands. The whining, the belly-aching, the resistance. All futile efforts on their part, but I am tired of hearing it. They don’t want to lift a finger. They’re lazy bums!

And truly they have no drive or ambition. The Boy has been nominated to audition for the county GT Orchestra. An honor to be sure. He was so excited and proud. Until he realized he had to practice. Let me be clear also that he can easily play all the required elements of the audition. But the mere thought of putting effort and time into anything other than reading or playing just threw him into a tantrum fit for a toddler. This is a common theme for my children. It’s part of their charm.

So I am left wondering, has my goal of raising kind, thoughtful citizens led to raising kids who only seek mediocrity? Who lack any inner spark, any inner drive, any ambition? I truly don’t know the answer to this, and I truly don’t know how to light their inner spark. They’ve certainly discovered activities that resonate with them, that light up their eyes. But they lack ambition. I’m not sure what the answer is, what I’ve done wrong, or what I haven’t done yet. But now I’m suddenly fearful they may end up living in my basement when they’re middle-aged after all.

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17 Responses to Slackers

  1. I wouldn’t be so quick to accept all the responsibility if I were you! I seriously think most of today’s kids who appear to be ambitious are forced by their parents to perform. I’m not convinced that going that route produces more ambitious adults, just resentful ones. Right there with you, by the way.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I haven’t been a parent, but I appreciate your goals in parenting. That your children have experimented and found passions that light them up seems pretty good. Something I still haven’t found in middle age. Maybe the motivation will come when you no longer care if they are motivated or not. Maybe consider detachment to results?
    Free advise from a non-parent. XD

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wendy says:

    We’re living in parallel universes, but I’m a (ahem) few years ahead and I can tell you that they mine got ambitious when they found ‘the thing’ that motivates them and that can take some time. But don’t think for a second that the resistance to folding clothes or taking out the trash goes away. Sorry.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I love your perspectives and humor! Parenting is a very tough job and I give you credit for taking on such an important task. I have to agree with your other responders in that this decade of children have been conditioned to want everything now putting little or no effort into. I have witnessed the work ethic decline rapidly over the past 20 years. The more technology does for us, including think, the less we are required to do and the effort required is so much less. It is really a shame that kids will be totally lost if/when techno fails.

    I grew up with a strong work ethic as there was never a consideration that each of us would get a job and help the family survive. Having said that, my sisters and I did try to whine about our chores but our parents were not tolerant of such behavior. Good luck! Living in a society of privilege has made modern children very lazy. I used to be tasked to cut our lawn with a non-motorized push mower; hence, I was shocked when I heard my niece complain about cutting their lawn with a riding lawn mower!!!! Are you kidding me??? Contemplating the future of civilization is a scary thing when you see the mindsets of the youth today.

    Blessings to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL–so true, so true!! I tell my kids all the time, they think they have it hard, just wait till they REALLY have to work hard!! I do also try to remind them of perspective and how privileged they are. Thank you for such thoughtful feedback. I like also the point you make about technology–I tell my kids about how we used to have to research our papers by actually going TO the library and searching for the physical books!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. JunkChuck says:

    It will pass. They’ll get older and the discipline instilled in them will win out. At least, that’s what i tell myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. apoetic1 says:

    The way you frame your experiences is so entertaining. I don’t know what exactly constiutes a lazy kid. I really don’t think lack of ambition is it, though. Someone else commented about drive and interest and such, but maybe it has more to do with today’s youth culture. My son is sixteen and has always been very ambitious, judicious, charming, analytical, and most certainly respectable on every level with peers, teachers, my co-workers, etc. But for the life of me, I can’t get the manchild to pick up his clothes off the floor or couch… clean up after eating… take out the trash… pick up the dog poop… put away his school supplies or games or anything else without constant reminders. And when I say constant, I mean multiple times a day (and between school and my job, hours at home are very minimal). I believe it’s a combination of burnout and just not getting the significance. When I was a kid, you did everything the first time you were told, and then you better just remember from then on out. But that was a different time… a time of belts and switches and speak only when you’re spoken to. We didn’t have the confusion of parents also being our best friends and understanding our pressures and hardships and the complexities of growing up when we did. Just the notion of that scenario is quite laughable – then. So, you’ve gotta wonder how much we really do influence our kids to be seemingly unproductive citizens (at least in their own homes) when they have far more freedoms and opinions and feelings than we were every allowed to have or confess outloud. I admit, dictatorships have some advantages. But being a single mom with a teenage son who still thinks I’m sorta cool, confides his deepest feelings to me, wants all his friends to come to our house to hang out, genuinely cares about my sanity, actually truly enjoys just hanging out with me (and we are quite the hilarious pair), and even vocalizes a random “I love you, mom” without warning or prompt… well… just maybe I don’t mind cutting him a little slack. Besides, when I ask him how in the world does he expect to get a wife who will put up with his messiness, he says he’ll make sure he earns enough money to hire a maid before he looks for a wife. Kids… or maybe that’s just a guy thing… lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing your own experience with this!! Sigh, I was hoping it would get better, but it doesn’t sound that way! Yes, a friend thinks we make our kids’ lives too easy for them. Sigh…well, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one struggling with this!! Thank you!!

      Like

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