Don’t Call them Lazy or Disrespectful :: Kids These Days are Changing the World

I have a request. Can we just stop with the condescending hot takes about Kids These Days? Every time I scroll through my social media feeds, there’s another blog post or tweet that’s gone viral, lamenting lazy, disrespectful children and teenagers. Kids these days have no moral values…their parents have no discipline…they don’t respect authority…they are addicted to their phones and lack any face-to-face communication skills. Sound familiar?

Look, of course there are lazy kids. There are kids who have been raised in households in which no example of moral behavior has been modeled. There are kids who are disrespectful and kids who bury themselves in screens and video games. And yes, some kids commit horrible crimes. But also…THERE ARE MANY ADULTS WHO FIT THESE SAME DESCRIPTIONS. We don’t get to chastise children, as a group, for traits that are exhibited in every age group represented in the world. 

Every person who lives on this earth, from a newborn taking his first breath to a 100 year old taking his last, is a human being. And human beings are complex  and broken. I don’t know of one adult who doesn’t struggle mightily with something, whether it be depression, addiction, anger, or just general stress. Life is hard- it’s hard to be a child, it’s hard to be a teenager, and it’s hard to be an adult. 

Kids These Days have Grown Up in an Uncertain, Rapidly Changing World 

When I look at today’s teenagers, navigating high school and standing on the cusp of adulthood, I see a generation who has come of age in a world radically different than any generation before them. Today’s high school seniors were babies on 9/11. They are part of Generation Z {born after 1995}. These kids have grown up with uncertainty, both in terms of economics, their safety and security, and technology that changes at lightning speed. They have been raised on social media, and their parents have had no real rule-book on how to navigate that world, because they are the pioneers. Of course they’ve made mistakes- no one has ever done this before!

Partly due to social media and the availability of information literally at their fingertips at all times, these kids are informed. These young people know what’s going on in their school, their community, and their country. They recognize and talk about racial tensions. Many of them have political opinions. They participate in service to their communities. They show true empathy for their friends and neighbors. Each and every one of them can spot phoniness a mile away. And they are preparing to step into adulthood and confront injustices head-on.

Kids These Days are Demanding Change

On Valentines Day 2018, high school students in Parkland, Florida faced inexplicable horror when a gunman open fired in their school, killing 17 of their classmates and teachers. Instead of exchanging chocolates and cards, they feared for their lives and are mourning the deaths of their friends. The fear of school shootings has always been a part of their lives, with the Columbine shooting occurring just a few years before they were born. They have never known a world where active shooter and intruder drills in school didn’t exist. 

And now, it appears that this generation of kids has had enough. They have grown up in a culture where mass shootings have become expected, and along with everything else for sale online, they can purchase bullet-proof backpacks. It’s absurd. 

I’ve been watching the teenagers, both from Parkland and around the country, rise up since the shooting. They are bravely confronting adults on the epidemic of mass shootings, and demanding change. These teenagers are challenging politicians and aren’t letting them skirt around the issues. They are organizing and mobilizing people across the country, planning marches and school walk-outs. And while Americans certainly don’t all agree on what that change looks like in terms of policy, we should respect and admire these students for their bravery in starting conversations and demanding justice and real solutions. 

Kids These Days are Making Change Happen 

It’s certainly not just the survivors of the Parkland shooting who are making waves and changing their schools and communities for good. Kids in Generation Z  are doing remarkable things, and most of them won’t ever make headlines.

I’m so proud of Nathan. He signed up to be the campus coordinator for his school for the March for Our Lives Houston! He’s such an introvert, but he’s stepping out for what matters to him. – Kyla, Houston Moms Blog contributor and mom of 3. 

Don't Call them Lazy or Disrespectful:: Kids These Days are Changing the World | Houston Moms Blog

After Harvey, so many of our students worked incredibly hard to muck houses. They just wanted to help. It was amazing. The top three of our graduating class are girls this year, and are some of the most amazing kids I’ve ever taught. They are headed to Rice, Brown, and Columbia. Two have full rides. It’s because they are not only bright, but they have a work ethic second to none. They are going to change the world one day. – Jen, high school history teacher 

Don't Call them Lazy or Disrespectful:: Kids These Days are Changing the World | Houston Moms Blog

My Madi has to have help with almost everything to function. Despite that, last year she worked with the Human Rights Campaign {HRC} and a local church to create a way for those with disabilities to be able to be a part of the Pride celebration in Dallas, for the first time in its history! This led to HRC committing to make every event they host accessible. They now have Madi working with them to encourage accessibility for any event they provide volunteers for. I am so incredibly proud of her. -Heather, Disability Rights Advocate and mom of three medically complex young adults

Donovan is a senior in high school, and he places a high value on respecting people from all generations. He doesn’t view success and achievements as measured only by materialistic rewards, but takes time to spend time with and learn from his elders. We have really made teaching respect a priority since he was little, and I am so proud of who he has become. – Denise, business owner and mom of two

There are lots of kids who may not be doing grandiose things, but they are being respectful and nice to everyone, every day. – Kay, mom of 3

Kids These Days are Inspiring Hope

As a mom of small children in Generation Alpha, I look towards their future with some trepidation. This world is filled with so much uncertainty, and there is so much to fear. School shootings, natural disasters, polarizing political issues…it’s easy to see how some have lost hope. But the Generation Z kids, just ahead of mine, are giving me just that :: hope. They are out there, speaking truth to power and being the change they want to see in the world. So please, just stop with the “kids these days” rhetoric. Kids these days are awesome, and we should be proud, and paying attention. They are changing the world. 

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