Another dose of adversity, please, for the kids’ sake.

Posted On December 23, 2016

Are millennials suffering from a lack of adversity?

The question was posed in a headline on this week, introducing a column by Eddie Vines, a Jefferson County, Alabama district judge whose guest editorial on the website was basically a column-length version of “Get off my lawn.”

Most millennials haven’t known want, Vines says, on the level of his parents in the Great Depression. Most millennials have never had to sacrifice like the Greatest Generation.

The sky is blue. Water is wet.

Every generation thinks the one below it is soft. Fathers who lived through the Revolutionary War probably thought their sons who lived through the War of 1812 were wimps. And those sons surely thought the grandsons who lived through the Civil War were coddled babies.

As technology continues to improve, as our standard of living as a country rises, as we continue to be blessed by a volunteer military that protects and preserves our freedom, each generation of Americans has had it better off than the last. This is not rocket science.

It does not, however, erase the fact that there are some people in all generations who suffer.

So while Vines lashes out at safe spaces, micro-aggressions and college food pantries, he misses the greater point. Hardship isn’t a competition. If there are college students who are going hungry, as college students often do, then why in the name of Tom Joad should they not have food pantries, even if they call it by an uber-academic term like “food insecurity?” Just because they’re not suffering as much as their ancestors who lived through the Great Depression doesn’t mean their need isn’t valid.

It’s unclear what Vines would prescribe to make millennials tougher. Another war? Another depression? Did we as parents not want our children to have it easier than we did? Isn’t that what every parent wants?

Then why are we so intent on bashing them for enjoying the benefits of the life we’ve given them? And why do we ignore that they have their own problems, like the exorbitant student loan debt that most of us in older generations weren’t saddled with?

Maybe they just need some collard greens, like Vines says. Or maybe we need to understand the societal changes that affect each generation and accept them for who they are.

Or here’s a novel idea: Maybe we all need to quit being so judgmental, quit all the whining about participation trophies, and focus on improving our own selves instead of worrying about everybody else. Because us Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers didn’t live through the Great Depression either.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Parenting