Today's youth feel the burdens of adulthood, not the freedoms.
Whoa. Scary truth here! As a MH therapist working with families for the past 30 years, I see the impact of this systemic assault daily. These are the stressors and concerns that my young clients are losing sleep over: how do I navigate in a society that hates me, wants to control my choices, underpays me, under houses me, buries me in debt, then blames me for extended dependence on parents who reinforce the self blame for not being able to live a reasonable life. They do see it, and they will vote, all the while realizing their votes weigh less every year and the entire system needs a major rehaul. Yes that is what those in power are afraid of. You can't educate and expose young people to the survival skills needed then block their ability to exercise them, at least not for long, until something gives.
Another thought: many of the parents I encounter who have parentified their kids - reversing the directional arrows of care and nurture to their benefit - tend to be more narcissistic, some malignantly so. How apt a description of the current oligarchic players who are scrambling to maintain their sweet deal by forcing others to continue to provide for them.
Jessica, great call and none to soon. This has been going on for quite awhile in some cultural areas. I’m 77 and at 10 I was in charge of my brother till he turned 20. We were latchkey kids. My parents both worked and had a social life. We saw them at dinner and at nights watching TV together if we didn’t have homework. Here’s the kicker for various reasons I did not get the therapy I need to realize the parentification and how this effected me till 7 years ago. Understanding this has had a positive impact on my brother and my relationship. I resented him for my first 30 years on earth. Thanks for the article.Spot on.
All of this. I teach high school Spanish, and we are winding down our school year. My 9th grade students are so exhausted and some are burnt out. Some of my 10-11th graders work nearly every evening or weekend at Starbucks or other service jobs. In my classroom at least, I try to give them a break sometimes. They really need it!
Immigration has always been the driver of the economy in the usa. America needs immigrants. We have had roughly 5 yrs of almost no immigration, which combined with a shrinking workforce, leads full employment and to child workers.
We can look to korea and japan to see our future without immigration.
There is a reason germany took in refugees under Merkel. They have had a negative birthrate for decades. They need immigrants.
So does america. Maybe instead of whipping refugees, we should welcome them?
I'm a parent of a middle schooler and I can tell you just how incredibly gifted, capable, and caring our children are. Do you know what my daughter and her social circle discuss on their Discord? Philosophy. Things like nihilism and existentialism. Things like music and starting a band. I took her and a friend out for a 14-mile bike ride and during our break the kids talked about how they wished they could live in a really small community and not have to spend so much time on the screen. They started this conversation proactively—I did not prompt them or ask that stupid question "So how's it going kids?". They're sick to death of social media. They use devices to connect because they yearn for the closeness that villages and neighborhoods used to give kids, when they were outside with each other all day.
My daughter is crazy gifted. She's a professional visual artist, sings, plays the drums, guitar, and piano (oh ukulele too). I can't keep up. I give her my all to support her talents, her health, her happiness. I talk to her about the serious issues too—climate change, geopolitics, the healthcare system, the corporate grind (she already knows to avoid that). We talk about human psychology too—I share the lessons it took me 4 decades to learn, so she can take off flying and not have to go through the same traumas. So she can build that resilience and strength of spirit that clearly many adults still lack.
I'll leave this comment with a website: www.sunrisemovement.org. Check it out. It's a national youth movement working on a menu of issues related to climate change. I'm a Sunrise Mama — a parent and older than 35. I've worked with the Sunrise kids, supported them, volunteered for them, attended their rallies. Please don't just sit at home and hope things will get better. They won't, unless we, the adults, really grow up.
More and more signs that a major change is brewing for the United States and some other countries. Here in the U.S., the bottom is starting to fall out and the youngest generations are going to start doing radical things to put things back to rights again. What that might look like, is anyone's guess but it won't be pretty or low key. If we have another economic depression, like the 1930's, it is doubtful that we will have another FDR to guide us out again. This time, things will spiral all the way to the bottom and it will get very bloody before things realign themselves into a new United States, or maybe a divided States of America. If we could be the adults in the room for once, we might could offer some guidance as these young people step up to take over for us oldsters, but that doesn't look good right now. The so called adults, are too busy scrambling to be the next Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk to pay attention to what's going on around them as the city is starting to burn.
Dear Jessica, this is so true and so dreadful, but weirdly hopeful at the same time. I am absolutely wrecked that pushing the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the most egregious water, forest, and people damaging project ever considered on Earth, is mere collateral damage in protecting oligarchs' profits in the debt ceiling dirty deal. The veil is off. There is no way Democrats can pretend they care about the climate, fair wages, or social justice of any kind. Young people saw through this in 2020, but gave the Democrats one last chance. They will not hold their noses and vote Blue again. They are already standing up mutual aid societies with food, books, and tools. They are throwing off the nanny state. Banning TikTok will only make it more appealing. Rock on! I love your writing. Thank you so much.
This article resonates with me. As the step parent of two twenty somethings I have always been amazed by their social awareness. Because of their generation I feel somewhat hopeful for the future. On the flip side they are still living at home because of the outrageous cost of life these days, especially housing. I also have to watch them take on so many burdens which I did not have growing up in the 60's and 70's. I was blessed with having so many great mentors including my parents, teachers, coaches, college professors, and some of my bosses. They do not have as many of those great mentors and most of it has come from my wife and I. At work their burden is great as they are expected to do more with less, no management support, no real leadership, none of the things I now understand were the most important parts of my development. In short, they are basically left, and have been left to fend for themselves in a very confusing and uncertain world.
This just hit so hard, and it is so disgusting to watch unfold in front of our eyes. I'm a millennial, and I saw the same people scoff at and belittle our social media use back in the Myspace days move on to Facebook where they shitposted left and right during the pandemic to now suddenly caring about toxic content.
A good companion movie to this message:
Jessica, fantastic piece. Thank you for beautifully rolling back the curtain on the panic surrounding teen social media usage, exposing it for the red herring that it is.
Our 12 year old started showing symptoms of OCD and anxiety and she doesn't own a phone or use social media. When you actually listen to kids you’ll hear the stress is coming from standardized testing, a dying planet, threat of school shooters, for-profit youth sports, and narcissistic adults,
HOOOOO i had never thought of it quite like this and as a (recently increasingly disabled!) geriatric millenial who has only recently BEGUN to marvel at HOW MUCH SMARTER and MORE CONSCIOUS the youngun's are!!!!? i can't help but agree 110 with every word of this.
Thanks for singing the hard truth, Jessica.
Kids are doing the inconvenient math. Hell, my generation, "Gen X," with all its faults, sees the writing on the wall, one way or another. We will be a much more vulnerable age as the FO of our civilizational FAFO intensifies in the next 10-20 years.
Humans (at least the ones of civilization) aren't very good at foresight. We're stuck in the "now," projecting our worldview into the past and future. Our minds can't help but try to maintain the present. This will not stop the ground truths of change barreling toward our collective worldview.
No one knows precisely what the future will be, but I can say with certainty that in a hundred years time, humans will not be living as we do now. If we manage to keep the experiment of civilization intact, it will be radically different than today.
Maaaybe radically worse, maaaybe radically better. Probably both. We'll find out. Together.
I will only note that this seems to be a pretty global problem, some countries have been having similar problems for decades now. I’m starting to think when you see a country with low birth rates and an aging general population, some form of parentification has been happening, some in countries that have had this for so long it’s considered normal and other countries have had admired. Yes, Japan, Korea, and China, I’m talking about you three.
All I can say is I talked to my aunt about how the entire family’s narcissistic rage has destroyed mine, my brothers, and my cousin’s, actual prefrontal cortex. She just creepily laughs about it. The only thing she cares about is being part of the manipulation, coercion, and abuse system that is the current work, housing, paycheck, food , education system we have where you don’t get even your basic needs met unless you’ve worked like a minimum of a month. I mean thank god that there’s jobs now where you can get cash advances but holy smokes, how the hell are you supposed to rest, eat, etc without housing, food, healthcare? Then if doctors think you’re an autistic male, you better kiss your ass goodbye because if you manage to get a diagnosis, it’s gonna be wrong. Especially with psychiatric medicine. The if you’re an autistic woman it just seems really sadly that these “neurotypical men” take advantage of them. It’s a really sick system that way too many people are just like totally blind and happy with.