For as long as I can remember, that’s how the older generation has begun their criticism of the younger generation. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve muttered it to myself. The resounding concern among parents seems to be that today’s teenagers aren’t learning the life skills that previous generations did. So, who’s at fault?
Actually, no one is.
The life skills that worked for us aren’t necessarily the life skills our kids need.
About a year ago, my son left one job and started the process of hunting for a new job. I was born in the 70s and came of age in the 80s, so job hunting to me meant going places and filling out applications. When I didn’t see my son doing that very often, I started questioning his efforts.
What he taught me is that most of the places he was applying to preferred applicants apply online, often through a company app. Many businesses don’t accept applications on site anymore, and most of them don’t want applicants showing up in person. It was a classic case of someone of my generation thinking a younger person was slacking off or not really trying because I didn’t understand how things have changed since I was his age.
That example aside, there are two areas I see teens struggling with:
1. Making phone calls.
Let’s face it, you can text and email all day, but sometimes you simply have to pick up a phone and make a call. A lot of younger people avoid this task the way some of us older people avoid our annual visit to the doctor
Teens are often hesitant to make a phone call because they’re not 100 percent sure how to handle the situation. Texting and emails will often be fine, but sometimes a phone call is best.
2. Being on time.
Time works differently than when I was younger. Handling things via text and email means deadlines and time frames aren’t as rigid as they once were. For teens, time can feel like a fluid, hard to gauge, concept.
Parents need to reinforce the importance of being on time, whether it’s for job, school or an appointment. Time may seem fluid, but people of previous generations are going to expect timeliness and it’s a skill teens need to master.
That being said, learning to make phone calls and set an alarm clock are skills that teenagers are quite capable of learning.
Meanwhile, the world is changing quickly and our kids are learning and processing the changes just as rapidly as they come.
They manage to keep their fingers on the pulse of every new development, while their parents are concerned about what outdated life skills they aren’t mastering.
I can’t be the only parent who’s noticed that by the time I get on board with some hot new trend the kids are talking about, the trend has already passed and my kids are on to something else. Kids today (there, I said it) have to be able to constantly shift, grow, evolve and keep up. That ability to adapt to change is a skill they can teach us.
Using an app to apply for a job is just the tip of the iceberg. There are apps for working remotely and apps for investments. Teens who can’t even drive yet are earning money from their YouTube channels. Most teens will never have a traditional bank account or need to write a check because, you guessed it, there’s an app for that, too.
And my kids are teaching me about it.
Adults complaining about kids not having some of the skills needed in adulthood should consider that adulthood isn’t what it used to be.
It’s a constantly changing process and our teens are constantly adapting to keep up.
What I’ve come to realize is that a lot of being adult is simply a matter of learning to adapt to change. And this generation seems to have that life skill down pat.