Our Young Adults Need US;
By Danae E. Bergman, LICSW,CMHS
The impact the last few months has had on our young adults and adolescents; needs some attention. It is time for the parents to be patient, forgiving parents these young adults and adolescents had when they were two. Yes, it may be the 100th time you have the same argument with this person, whom you once promised to love unconditionally. And yes, as parents, we are tired, and going thru the same situation-but not really.
The significant coming of age traditions these individuals have missed out on, such as walking on stage to pick up a diploma, playing pomp and circumstance with the orchestra, entering college, graduating from college, moving in and out of dorms; has created a very surreal existence.
This generation, who was born to Woodstock 99 learned to talk around the time the Columbine shooting occurred, and started school while our nation mourned Sandy Hook Elementary; is now facing more of the same grief with no hope of normalcy. The American traditions that have overwhelmed our media for decades, while inadvertently discounting any other culture; are now a sad glimpse to a desired but unattainable way of life.
The largest financial inequalities coming to view , as a result of the 2008 recession, along with the glorification of drug cartels, and other sociopathic entities (i.e Enron Brothers); led the path for this generation. As parents worked to keep the lights on, and ageism reigned the USA, community and intergenerational supports became more scarce; directly contributing to this generation’s inability to connect.
The diversity which has been brewing in the background incited hatred from those who feared changes to their norm. This causing a generalized great divide. Kids who had different sexual identities, or were within the questioning sexuality spectrum, deemed an abomination by the leaders of their town; added purpose to bullying.
Normal ways of bullying started to include more dangerous elements; adding to the high number of adolescents and young adults that ended their lives . Determination not to be left behind, encountered with the tragic infrastructure of our inner cities; started to delineate the benefits of academia. The value of money trumping that of community, family, or purpose; encouraged deathly competition.
Never however, has the divide been greater than in the last four years. There are blatant socio-economic disparities preventing the development of a much needed empathic and compassionate response to the generalized grief, this generation is expressing.
The lack of accountability exuberated by the country’s leaders, and the gluttonous attitude modeled by our country’s most affluent men; have added to this great divide, excluding any rationale for fair judgment. Such exemplary behaviors have devalued the great American dream, without acknowledgment; requiring leadership on paths blurred by unrealistic goals.
This generation needs a fair chance to resolve their grief, to stand up for all they lost, and be at peace with whom they have to be. After operating on crisis mode their whole lives, this generation has had enough. The unrealistic roles expected of them has created a fuck-you attitude, that quite frankly, seems justified.
So if you are a parent, family member, support system; rally around your adolescents and young adults. Inspire their abilities, while squashing fears, just like you did when they were younger. If estranged from those you love, reflecting on the love that brought you together once, temporarily lessens the impact of this loss. As the elders in our communities, we must, stand with and by our youth, allowing respect to be reciprocated. Helping protect what may remain of their innocence; so that they in turn can confront the next 50 years.