This I Believe

Jenni - Sioux City, Iowa
Entered on October 5, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: children
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Kids Today Are Better Than Ever! –This I Believe

Every older generation seems to relish pointing out that the younger generation is lacking in ideals, character, manners and work ethic. Yes, in the good old days, “We WALKED to school, trudging several MILES , through ten feet of snow and it was uphill…BOTH WAYS!” The current “older” generation is quick to portray the younger generation as a bunch of weak, coddled, spoiled, babied misfits—a generation of gutless, incompetent ne’er-do-wells. How can we possibly pass on the management of our world to this latest group of miscreants??? With trust and faith and confidence, I tell you, because kids today are better than ever and here’s why.

Today’s kids are survivors! They are faced with problems, challenges and situations that were never even DREAMED of in the “good old days.” My knowledge of this younger generation comes from my experience in running a program called “Reconnecting Youth” which is a grant-funded, research-based program for high school students. The Reconnecting Youth program targets students experiencing several variables such as excessive absences, downward sliding grades, noticeable disconnection with peers, school or family and risk factors such as drug and alcohol use and promiscuity. Kids directed towards this program are often labeled as troubled or at-risk. But I have found that in this day and age, ALL kids are living with family problems, stressful lifestyles and pressures to manage everyday living in a fast-paced, demanding world. Within this program, the life issues that affect these kids are discussed and they help each other by giving support, encouragement and problem solving.

Once these kids realize that they can trust each other, the door opens on the discussion and the sharing. When they know that they can trust you, they give you their life stories and these are often not happy tales. By the time they reach high school, these kids have already witnessed and experienced many of the seamier sides of life. They can tell tales that would curl your hair. Their real world can include years of neglect, abuse and profound indifference and yet they are functioning and surviving and giving of themselves to others. They may have had the poorest examples of role modeling that you could ever imagine. And yet, they are probably doing the best they can with the tools that were given to them. Many of these young people are old beyond their years.

Under all of these negative circumstances, these kids are raising themselves, nurturing their siblings and coping with terrible life situations–and you know what? They’re turning out to be good people. They’re good kids. Against great odds, they are becoming caring citizens of a world that has been very ungenerous to them. While they may be lacking in some knowledge, skills and opportunity, these kids are all heart. Our younger generation has learned life lessons that our older generation has NEVER had to learn. Because of this, kids today are better than ever—THIS I BELIEVE.