TIMES HAVE CHANGED: Growing Up Ain’t What It Used To Be

Thanksgiving weekend is a very special time for our big family and for this old man. 18 of our 21 grandchildren showed up with their parents for an extended stay and interplay.

It’s great having them here. However, I can’t help but observe how different kids are today than when my wife and I were growing up. They seem to have no concern for their wants and needs. I suppose that’s a good thing – a reflection of the abundant prosperity afforded to us by The-American-Way* – The-American-Prosperity-Machine*. The kids really take it for granted that their every significant want will be fulfilled. And my sons and daughters, obviously, feel obliged to meet their expectations – and they do.

When my wife and I were growing up in the 40s and 50s, we understood that stuff was expensive and limited. At Christmas time I got one gift – and was delighted with it. The same for my wife. We both started working at odd jobs at the age of 10 or 11 – to have some spending money. And we had jobs at home with no pay. My wife worked at a drycleaner from the age of 14 and at 18 at large, local establishment. I worked at a food market (split shift) at 14 and at various machine shops at 15 until graduation from the University of Notre Dame. I worked during every school break and even for a couple of weeks after graduation and before our wedding and the commencement of my employment at Dow Corning in July, 1960. Clearly, we were both raised in a working environment or class. If we wanted something we had to work for it.

I’m amazed that kids nowadays are thinking about college before they even enter high school. They know all about the SAT scores and their importance. And they visit several universities and submit several applications well before entering college. I submitted two applications to two universities without ever having visited them. I arrived at the University of Notre Dame to see it for the first time – and to spend the next four years there – in a small, Spartan-like dormitory room with a classmate I had never met before. I hitchhiked home (120 miles) periodically for really good meals and to see my girlfriend (now wife).

I graduated from ND on June 4, 1960 and was married two weeks later. I started at Dow Corning in mid-July 1960; and have been working ever since – even to this day (at 77) in my own investment practice.

I relay these thoughts – not as a form of criticism – but as a keen observation of my extended family under development and in curiosity as to how this more prosperous process will turn out. The kids rioting in the streets following the recent presidential election, skipping classes, and crying in groups, gives me pause for concern – particularly when interviews show most didn’t vote and do not know the issues and their consequences. I suppose I’ll be judging the outcome from my heavenly perch someday, where I’ll be praying for a positive outcome.

I recently received this email comment, a much darker evaluation of the situation:

[M]ost live for the moment and are rescued by Mommy and Daddy every step of the way, even as young adults. So many young adults graduate college and return home to live with their parents rent free making no financial contribution. They have medical insurance until 26 under mommy and daddy’s roof. Most don’t learn to stand on their own to feet until their late 20’s or early 30’s. Often stuck at home with no real income, in search of a job, or possibly enrolling in more higher education programs while taking on additional debt as a contingency plan to work less.

I know their are lots of young success stories out there today but feel the majority are in a place of limbo – lost in space when having to fend for themselves. How will it all play out for generations to come here in America is the million dollar question that only time will tell. Of course, you can take an educated guess based on history and statistics but nobody really knows for sure.

Regardless, we’ll eventually all pay for a non productive, non contributing generation.

In God we must trust . . . but we must always do our part – to secure and promote the truth and a better way – to protect our freedom and interests – and to defend the Judeo-Christian American-Way.

*The American-Way*The American Prosperity Machine: Traditional Judeo/Christian principles and values . . . the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . freedom of speech, action, religion and family governance . . . an educated and informed society . . . freedom from gender and racial discrimination . . . affordable healthcare . . . the rule of Constitutional Law . . . the peaceful settlement of disputes . . . honest elections and presidential leadership . . . patriotic, truthful, checks-&-balanced, limited government . . . a strong military . . . cost-effective national defense . . . secure borders . . . the right of citizens to own and bear arms . . . free, competitive markets and institutions . . . properly-regulated, free-enterprise . . . balanced trade . . . private property rights . . . low cost, domestically supplied energy and natural resources . . . controlled immigration . . . individual responsibility and ingenuity . . . entrepreneurialism . . . a strong work ethic . . . full employment . . . fair pay . . . appropriate safety nets . . . low taxes . . . a strong, reliable currency . . . financial availability, mobility, and responsibility (balanced budget, minimal debt) . . . Competitive, Free-Market, Free-Enterprise, Constitutionally Limited Government . . . and American Exceptionalism.

photo credit: Nationaal Archief Jongen in de tabaksindustrie / Boy working in tobacco industry via photopin (license)

Share if you have noticed things have changed in the way young people are growing up nowadays.

About the author: William Pauwels

William A. Pauwels, Sr. was born in Jackson Michigan to a Belgian, immigrant, entrepreneurial family. Bill is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and served in executive and/or leadership positions at Thomson Industries, Inc., Dow Corning, Loctite and Sherwin-Williams. He is currently CIO of Pauwels Private Investment Practice. He's been commenting on matters political/economic/philosophical since 1980.

View all articles by William Pauwels

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