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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Open Letter From a Millenial...

... go read Open Letter From a Millennial: Quit Telling Us We're Not Special

Can I get a Hallelujah AMEN? Yes, I think I can. Thank you, someone, for eloquently giving both middle fingers to a generation of parents who thought stickers and participation awards would make up for their collective lack of interest.

Do you know how many AP students, bright kids with college dreams, were lost in the College Application Run? They did everything, and burnt out in high school. They played volleyball, volunteered, were in all the AP classes, NHS, newspaper, and yearbook... and they were meth addicts because the only way to squeeze in eight hours of school, six hours of homework, and ten hours of activities is to never sleep at all. You'd know them, the perfect ones with nary a hair out of place who scanned every crowd for their parents.

We were buying your love by living your dreams.

The only band concert I remember is the one where I played a wrong note on my solo because I realized my father was in the audience. I had one or two competitions a week for two years, he came to one. It wasn't enough. He's never met my kids. He never calls. He doesn't even remember my birthday. I guess my grades and perfect attendance certificate weren't enough.

I'm writing this blog and my Twin sent me this:

"Every little thing we do must be harnessed for profit. And you wonder why we seem to have no spontaneity left"
So, so true. We cant have an unproductive moment.

We can't. She and I have been beating ourselves up because of new babies destroying our writing schedules. You know what, that's what we took away from our childhoods. We weren't good enough unless we could do everything, all at once, perfectly.

Because, even more than being told we were special, we were told that we'd disappointed someone. "Why did you get an eighty on this test? You're special. I expect better from you. How disappointing."

This bears repeating...

The truth is, we never thought we were special. You did.
You thought we were special because we were extensions of you.
You trained us to be the children you could brag about. Then, all of a sudden, everybody had one and we were no longer good enough, like outdated toys.
We were supposed to fulfill all your unrealized potential.
We were supposed to live your dreams.
We were supposed to have what you never had, do what you never did and be who you never were.
We can’t.
We know the congratulations are hollow, the awards meaningless, the degrees redundant, the ceremonies overwrought. We aren’t surprised; you are.
If there is anything that defines our generation, it’s knowing exactly how miserably our lives have failed to satisfy you.
We grew up imagining that we could be like you, but we’re not. You have prevented us from being like you.

And maybe that's a good thing. I don't want to be my parents. I want to be me. I don't always know who I am, I like to try new things and who knows what I'll be in fifty years, but for now... I don't need your stickers, your participation awards, or your approval. I don't need you to tell me I'm special. I just need you to get out of my way so I can live my life on my terms.


  1. Hey! Totally off topic: Someone on #kidlitchat recommended your book to me, so I followed the link from your twitter acct. McAfee gave me a warning as follows:
    Are you sure you want to go there?
    http://www.lianabrooks.com/ may be risky to visit.

    Why were you redirected to this page?

    When we visited this site, we found it exhibited one or more risky behaviors."

    Thought you'd want to know. I hope it's not keeping others from visiting your page! I clicked through, regardless of the warning. :)

    1. I'm so sorry. I don't know why McAfee doesn't like my blog. :-s

  2. Being Canadian and analytic, I looked at how I was raised, society's attitudes on parenting, and discussed with Carvis how we wanted to be as parents before we even got married. As a result, our daughter knows that we love her, know what her faults are and accept her anyway, are extremely proud of her, and encourage her to be herself.

    She is special. She is the only one of her there will ever be.

    However, she also knows that hard work is what will get her what she wants in life. She has a work ethic that amazes people because she doesn't accept anything less than her best and thinks this is normal.

    She's 27, still lives at home, is applying for university to get a second degree, works part-time because she has medical issues that prevent her from getting a low-paying job that would give her full time hours, and doesn't have a boyfriend because she hasn't found someone who is willing to accept her as she is. She's pretty anytime and beautiful when she dresses up, smart but still makes mistakes, moody and won't admit it, and not very athletic.

    By the standards of the parents in that article she's a failure. By my standards, she is my daughter and I am very proud of her.

    She knows that we will tell her when she is doing something stupid and that she herself is not stupid. We only ever told her once that she disappointed us and that was when she gave up on herself because of something someone else said to her.

    She was lucky. She had us teaching her how to be her own person. I've seen and heard about her friends facing the very issues mentioned in that post. Unlike them, she knows that her parents love her and are there for her without expecting her to live their lives or fulfill their dreams.

    We want her to live her life and fulfill her dreams.

    1. I don't suppose you want to adopt me, do you? That sounds like a wonderful way to raise a child.

  3. Sure, we'll add you to our list of unofficially adopted family. :)

    There are some disadvantages, the biggest one was that our daughter was much more mature than her friends and that caused some problems. Overall though, she says she's happy with how she was raised.

  4. Well having four daughters 3 with degrees and 1 into real estate I feel successful as a parent. My kids were encouraged to be active in school but not forced. Most of that was on my wife as I was out on the road making a living to support them. I am proud of my grand kids. However I am seeing a new generation I totally do not understand, but am trying to figure out. I call them the Vidiot Generation. Their life is video games and texting. They care about nothing, have no motivation that I can see. They relate to each other via video apps. You have seen then in news clips falling in pools and walking into doors. They are so engrossed the state has had to pass laws to ban their habits while driving. Maybe they will change and turn around, but I do not see any opportunities for them to look forward to. The job market sucks, college is quickly being priced beyond reach and video games are becoming their only reality. Hate to be so pessimistic, I still see motivated and bright kids and many of the ones I described above are actually pretty sharp but they are not motivated. It scares me to think that thirty years down the road they will be leading this country.
    Your blog has definitely fueled some conversations. Sorry if I stepped on any toes. At least they are not computer illiterates like me.

    1. Hi Ric,

      I understand what you're saying.

      My daughter's friend has asked to stay with us while he goes to college. He is two and a half months older than her. We agreed on the conditions that he pays rent as she does, helps out around the place, and applies for and goes to college. Since we've accepted him in our new place (been ten months now since we moved), he is on his fifth job, missed four rent payments (two in one month and one each in two other months), still hasn't applied for his course although he has the issues he had previously with Student Loans resolved so he can apply for a new loan, has spent all his spare money on games for his computer and various game systems rather than saving it for college, and has broken up with three girls.

      Yet when I mention that games should be the last thing on his priority list he tunes me out.

      Our daughter, during the same time period, has been working at a part-time job not full-time like he gets, has applied for university in Toronto (we live in New Brunswick), has brought her credit card down under the limit (went over helping us with living expenses when all three of us were unemployed for a few months), paid a third of what she earns to us for rent and groceries, and has bought only things she absolutely needs (clothes to replace what was worn out and we bought her the shoes she needed). She hasn't had money to spend on herself, beyond five or ten dollars a pay, for over two years.

      Most of my daughter's friends fall between the two of them. However, I still see way too many of them more interested in playing their games than any thing else. Conversations are almost universally about the games, which, since I don't play them, bore me to blazes.

      Also, the conversations get interrupted by constant texting and that irritates me. Yet the idea of turning off the cell phones is identical to telling them that they are about to be dropped in a vat of boiling oil.

      So, can I come to your place for some interesting conversations? :)