Generation Next: To be, or not to be…

I was sitting outside PF Chang’s waiting desperately for the little buzzer to light up in my hand when my wife told me something that made me cock my head to the side, “Did you know that the majority of millenials (people born roughly in the 80s and 90s) say that parenting is one of their highest values in life?”

What? That can’t be right.” I said. But she has Pew Research to back her up, “Although only about a third of Millennials (34%) have children, they are just as likely as their older counterparts to place high value on good parenting. About half (52%) say being a good parent is one of the most important things to them (Millenials: A Portrait of Generation Next, Feb 2010).”

It caught me so off guard because it seems like so many people in my generation are running away from responsibility, especially parenting. We marry later (or not at all) and have kids later. I think it is safe to say that neither Lady Gaga nor Ne-Yo has produced any recent songs on good parenting. In fact, the song that tops the charts on my local radio station for the last three weeks is a song featuring Ne-Yo suggesting we all go to a club, pick out an attractive person, and sleep with them because, “For all we know we might not get tomorrow.” Like that doesn’t scream, “I am (or am preparing to be) a long-term minded, responsible parent!”

We are less likely than the older generations to view a successful marriage as a top priority (30%). (Apparently, for 22% of respondents, having a successful marriage has little or nothing to do with being a successful parent.)

Why then would over half of my peers say that being good parents is #1 on their bucket list?

It seems that one thing we may not be too gifted in is self-awareness. (My guess is that about 70% of us would say self-awareness is one of our most prominent qualities.) We say we value parenting but our actions give lie to the truth.

Right then, outside of PF Chang’s (who’s VIP Duck, by the way, may have changed my life), I remembered the words of the Bible in the book of James.

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word and does not do what it says is like someone who looks at himself in a mirror, and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like (1:22-24).”

I think I finally understood those words for the first time. James is saying you cannot be self-aware without doing what you believe. You will deceive yourself about who you really are if you listen, learn, know, and value, but don’t act. For example, if you say you value generosity because you have listened to moving sermons about giving or admired your parents’ open-handedness, but you can’t be burdened to part with 20 or 30 or 100 bucks for someone in need, you may be deceiving yourself. You may “value” generosity in a sense, you may know it is a good thing, but you are not a generous person.

And if ever someone holds a mirror up to you, shows you the plain fact of who you are as it shows up in your actions, you will walk away and reconstruct an entirely different image: taller, thinner, and with a fuller head of hair.

I can almost hear Jedi Master Yoda saying, “Do! Or hear not! Be! or say not that you value!”

Before that moment on the rock-hard bench outside PF Chang’s, I had never fully realized how closely connected my actions were with knowing who I really am.

One Response to Generation Next: To be, or not to be…

  1. Pingback: For Better or for Worse: The Real Christian View of Marriage | Unqualified Reflecting

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