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Davis Journal

We need to expect more from the ‘younger generation’

Sep 02, 2022 11:58AM ● By Bryan Gray

It is easy for adults to blame the ills of society on the “younger generation.” It is more difficult for adults and parents to look inward and perceive that they might be the problem.

A few examples:

A Utah university recently ordered printed posters from me. The admission office created the artwork and sent the file. Upon looking at it, I called the office and told them that of the eight words on the poster, one was misspelled.  I could fix it, I told them, if they wished. Their response: “Don’t worry, it’s not that big a deal.  Most of our students can’t spell correctly anyway!”

Well, no wonder they can’t spell. Too many adults – in this case, educators – are setting the bar so low that incorrect spelling and/or grammar is an expected reality.  If “anything goes,” then there are not expectations for excellence.  Hold students to a higher standard and a good share of them will rise to meet it.

Then there was a report that the majority of incoming college students could not name the two houses of Congress (House of Representatives and Senate), let alone other civic items such as the term of the U.S. President or the amendment regarding free expression.

Sure, you can blame the “kids” for being stupid and clueless, but did the parents sit down at the dinner table and discuss current events or political issues? If all children hear is “Oh, that’s just politics” or “(a political party) is evil,” don’t blame the students for figuring that understanding the governmental process is a waste of time.

Many surveys also find that young adults know very little about their own finances. Just yesterday, a man in his mid-20s told me that he would never invest in the stock market since “everyone loses money in it” and credit cards are foolish “always putting people into debt.”

Again, has either of his parents ever explained the importance of investing, how the stock market has consistently provided a long-term engine for a safe retirement? Has any adult ever explained to him that if one only charges for items on a credit card that he or she can pay off at the end of each month, then the credit card is a gift – a no-interest loan for up to 30 days with, in the case of “rewards cards,” also providing free travel, cash back, and other benefits? Misuse is the culprit, not the card. Don’t expect young men and women to make good financial decisions from a silly clip on TikTok!  

Last week’s worst grade for parents came when a handful of adults complained that their daughters had lost a sports competition. They “suspected” that the winner was really transgendered; they had no proof but wanted a thorough investigation.

The subsequent investigation proved them wrong.  But, as sportswriter Gordon Monson wrote about the affair, girls should “approach their practices and season with lots of effort and joy, not stressing over whether they’d catch the eye of a national coach. Instead, relish the experience of playing a high school sport with their friends. They only get to do that once.”

Novelist John Updike once wrote that a baby born of clay can be unfortunately molded into a brick due to the hardness of a parent. Or, as poet Ogden Nash, penned, “Oh what a twisted web do (some) parents weave.”λ