Growing up?

There is not a generation who doesn’t look with judgment and amazement at the generation that follows them.  As society changes, so does each generation.  They each have individual nuances and so they are each given a name based on their time in society.  The Me Generation, the X Generation, etc. 

This particular generation (16-24), the one that is now in high school and college, seems to push the edge in ways that are different than I was growing up.  Pushing the edge with alcohol and drugs. Why?

It seems to me that the parents of this generation, the helicopter parents who have hovered over their children from day one have created the “I am free syndrome”.  These parents have planned each activity, where they are going to college, pushed them to be financially successful not necessarily to find happiness with themselves.  Financial success does not equal happiness.  Finding ones sense of self and who you are is the key to finding happiness.  Even colleges are asking themselves, who are these kids?  They all fit into the same mold.  BTW, no child left behind, one of many awful policies pushed through by the Bush administration is not allowing for any individuality among our children today.

We read more and more about kids getting to college and just going wild.  Is it that the helicopter parents don’t talk to their kids about how to drink or do drugs?  You hear more and more about kids who push it to the limit when they get to college and don’t just get drunk but get so drunk they end up having to get their stomach pumped.  More kids seem to have an affinity for prescription drugs.  Mixing pills, snorting pills to get higher and higher.  To escape from the stress of the expectations put on their head?  Each generation has their own set of drugs.  Alcohol and pot has been part of every generation from the 60’s but prescription drugs seem to be more and more prevalent than the past. 

Does one finally gets into college and realizes that their next goal is getting into graduate school so they must continue to achieve the perfect grades.  Are these kids lost because they themselves don’t know who they are.  That they are numb to themselves and so create absolute numbness when they partake in partying with their friends to alleviate the stress?

What can parents do?  What can colleges or high schools do to make sure each kid gets to the other side of graduation or the other side of 25? 

I actually know of parents who have grounded their kid when they have come home smelling of alcohol in high school.  I wonder what the point of that is.  I understand grounding a kid for coming home so late without calling and scaring you half to death. Grounding them sends the message, don’t do it again. OK, they get that. But to me, when it comes to drinking that only sends the message, don’t drink again.  That is not realistic. What has the child learned from this punishment?  Either they will decide that in order to party with my pals on the weekend I will just spend the night at someone’s house every weekend or this is a kid who will end up having their stomach pumped one night at a hospital or worse.  The parents have taught the kid nothing.  The key to raising healthy adults who partake in drinking and yes drugs is to teach them how to enjoy kicking back and having fun.  When to stop or when to say no or how to make intelligent decisions about what you are putting in to your body.  How to listen to your body when you have had enough. How to be responsible and also to be aware of any abuse that has been in the family, if there has been any.

I don’t get the parents who continue to treat their kids like 8 year olds when they have hit the age of being independent. Certainly there are levels of independence but in NYC it starts quite young. There is no doubt that their brains are still forming and not equipped to make certain decisions but they are going to drink and they might take drugs and smoke pot.  So, doesn’t it make more sense to give them the tools to understand what they are doing.

Maybe this generation is so set on performing at the level their parents expect them to perform at or their parents have hovered for so long and not given them any freedom or tools to understand freedom or there has been little parenting at all that the need to bust out has been taken to an extreme.   

There are many parents that I know who have absolutely no idea what their kids are doing.  They are blinded, never had open conversations with their kids about drinking and drugs but just said don’t do it and actually believe that their kids are obeying them.  They have rose colored glasses on and are not having really open conversations with their kids. 

I certainly don’t have the answers but all of this is just food for thought.