Let me start out by saying the list below does not fit an entire generation. Some of you have got your heads in the game, your lives together, and fully appreciate that before forty, you don’t know half as much as you think you do. The problem lies in the fact that the ones who give your generation a bad name also believe they have it all together. That pretty much means all of you need to read the list. You'll either learn something or you won't. Either way, you'll have a new list to hate on-- because you all do that so well.
But first, I want to share the personal story that led me to create this list. I think we can all agree that the holidays are a bit different this year. On the one hand, if our family is alive and kicking, we have a lot to be thankful for. On the other, we have a lot to be stressed out about. In my case, one of my nephews added a great deal of stress to my plate yesterday. I'm working on a private online photo album for my 89-year-old mother-in-law, who lives alone and has struggled with that isolation most of the year.
She wanted to give the link to the album to all of her adult kids and grandkids as her gift to them. It includes photos dating back to the 1930s, but also photos of her and my deceased father-in-law along with their five children. It ends with a screenshot from a Zoom call with her five offspring and spouses because that's how we've stayed in touch this year.
My goal is to surprise HER by adding family photos of each of her ten grandchildren with their children at the end. We have some new babies in the family, some of which my mother-in-law has not met in person. She also has not met the two small children of one nephew, even though he and his family recently moved to the same state.
At my request, nine charming photos appeared in my email inbox in short order. They range from professional portraits to selfies taken on the subway. With only one holdout, I re-sent my request for a photo to the missing nephew.
The first email I got said this:
Please do not include us in this. Thank you.
The second (sent an hour later) said this:
You probably didn’t know this, but we have gone to great lengths to keep pictures of our kids from ending up on the internet. This is a choice we made early on to allow them to control for themselves (once old enough) their own online presence. I recognize this may feel like an odd request, but I respect your choices for what you do with your own pictures of your own family. I’m just asking that you please respect my choices for any pictures of my family. So please delete any pictures you have of them.
Stop blaming your parents
My nephew has issues with his parents. I don’t know the details, because not only did I not live near them as they were growing up. Unless you live in the same house, you don't know what really goes on inside a family.
What I do know is that this young man is healthy, has a beautiful wife and two cute sons. He has an amazing career. What the heck is he holding against his parents? Once you reach adulthood, your life, your choices are on you. If you are dealing with trauma, get help with that. Deal with whatever it is and move on.
Adulting means you realize that you only saw your childhood through a child's eyes, which is a seriously skewed perspective. Put your big boy glasses on and see your parents for what they are: imperfect humans who brought you into the world and managed to keep you alive long enough for you to take over and develop your own identity. You'll get it once your kids are old enough to walk away from you.
Stop blaming the Boomers
Study your history a bit before you start blaming Boomers for every damn thing wrong with the planet, our government, and your life. We didn't invent cars or conspicuous consumption. Our parents and grandparents did that. We didn't write the constitution, and there are only two amendments to it you can lay at our feet: the 26th and the 27th. One gave 18-year-olds the right to vote, the other restricts congressional pay increases. You're welcome.
Stop the name-calling
You cry foul at the slightest hint of bullying where you or your kids are involved, yet you perverted a common female name so you could label strong white women (who probably remind you of your mother) without calling them the "b" word. I am here to tell you that "Karen" is offensive.
Accept that you don't know everything
My nephew's response that he and his wife chose to keep their children's online presence private until their children are old enough to decide for themselves how they want to be represented is baffling at the very least. Mind you, this guy is quite intelligent and works in the tech industry. But my first question is what is your fear of a simple photo in an album only accessible by a private link? Sure, sure, I get that hackers could potentially hack into Grandma's album, but why? There's no financial gain that I can see.
My second question is are you so all-knowing that you honestly feel this plan you dreamed up five years ago when the first child was born, will have any meaning whatsoever eighteen years later when that child comes of age? Seriously? You are trying to control something uncontrollable, AND unknowable.
And finally, have you never taken these children inside any building other than their home? Do they have passports? Have you never taken photos of them yourselves with any electronic device? Do you have a doorbell camera? Nanny cam? Isn't one of them in school already? Their photos are out there. Admit that and give your family one tiny moment of joy.
Respect your grandparents
Our grandparents are living history. We should be honoring them, picking their brains, digging through every photo they have. They represent where we came from and where our world came from.
Grandparents are also the closest things many of us have deep, unconditional, un-taintable love. They rarely are the ones who screw up our psyche. They love us without question. And they struggle with isolation issues in even the best of years. This year they have lost friends. They lost what shred of independence they may have had. And they are more alone than ever.
So there you have it
These five things won't necessarily make you a better person, but they might at least set you on the right path toward the adulthood you so righteously claim to have already achieved. Feel free to slam me with an "Okay, Boomer" in the comments. Just be sure to call your Grandma when you're done.