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Everyone complains about kids. It's natural to grumble about how they don't do things the way we think they should or that they lack the proper attitude. This has been going on since older prehistoric fish admonished younger prehistoric fish for walking too slow.
But there's something about this rising generation of kids that is special. Maybe those of us raised by the Drapers have reexamined our family values. Maybe we victims of bullies grew to find the power to do something about it. Maybe we got tired of hiding who we really are.
As much as we'd like to take credit for our flawless parenting skills, we can't deny the importance of growing up in the Internet age. We may have been the pioneers, but our kids will be the real trailblazers. We've given our youth a good combination of freedom of thought and access to knowledge.
Our kids are exposed to more things at an earlier age. They're more aware and more connected with people and issues around the world. They know about discrimination, sex, war and religion. They know more about history and science and art than they will ever learn in books. They come from a vastly different world than we did, and this has allowed certain qualities to flourish, such as these:
1. They are more tolerant
Today's kids are growing up in a multiracial and multicultural country. They are exposed to all kinds of people in schools, activities and jobs. Many kids speak more than one language. They are growing up in an era of gay marriage and interracial relationships. They don't think as hard about our differences. Instead of automatically absorbing the opinions of their parents, they now have enough information and exposure to form their own opinions.
When I worked for a large employer, it never surprised me to hear about a 20-something coming up with a brilliant way to streamline operations along with the technical know-how to implement it.
2. They are smarter
What can I say? It's true. Any adult with a jammed computer or smartphone knows this. The Internet plays a huge role in this. Our kids can find the answer to any question within seconds. They're able to act on their intellectual curiosity instead of just wonder about things. They're more in touch with current events. Even if they can't name the secretary of state, they're often more aware of their place in the world. They know that global warming, a bad economy and terrorism are problems they're going to inherit. As soon as their judgment catches up with their knowledge, they will be unstoppable.
3. They are entrepreneurs
Kids today are confident, almost to a fault. How many times have we adults complained about some cocky young whippersnapper coming into the office knowing everything there is to know. By the time they're 30, they're already complaining that they've been surpassed by the new kids. When I worked for a large employer, it never surprised me to hear about a 20-something coming up with a brilliant way to streamline operations along with the technical know-how to implement it. This was also frustrating, as they sometimes lacked the experience and foresight of long-time employees. But it was still impressive. If you got a kid who listened and learned as well as innovated, you were in great hands.
They know the difference between knowledge needed to score high on an SAT and knowledge needed to pass through life.
4. They are not afraid to break tradition
They've thrown our whole educational system out of whack. They know the difference between knowledge needed to score high on an SAT and knowledge needed to pass through life. They've skipped traditional degrees and started their own multi-million dollar corporations. They're changing the way we look at marriage, race, family and religion. They're not afraid to speak their minds when they sense injustice or discover an old method that just isn't working.
Of course, I'm speaking generally about only the positive traits I've noticed in our growing kids. Of course, there are things about the next generation that make me crazy. But I'm not going to list them here. The positives are just too big, and I like what I'm seeing. As long as they can temper themselves with patience, an open mind and a good work ethic—and I think they can—I don't think I'll mind being a drooling old demented cat lady in the hands of these kids.