Age opens our eyes to the "real world" and helps to dismiss the foolish notions of our youth like invincibility, infallibility and absolute independence. As we mature, we come to realize that life's many twists and turns usually have some sort of consequences associated with them--good and/or bad. For some of us, this comes as quite a surprise.
Looking back on my own youth, I've compiled a list of those decisions, behaviors, actions, etc. which I held onto for as long as I could before needing to face the consequences. See if any of these ring true for you: 1) Driving my parent's cars like a NASCAR racer was actually good for the engine (you know, it burns out the carbon build-up). 2) Driving those same vehicles after consuming enough alcohol to anesthetize a rhinoceros proved I could handle my liquor, especially if I made it home without killing anyone or damaging the car. 3) The way to get ahead was to leave behind integrity, organizational loyalty, selfless dedication and personal sacrifice in favor of a whatever-it-takes mentality with a take-no-prisoners end game. There are lots more examples like these, but I expect you get my point.
When I reached an age where I could no longer just wait for someone else to calculate the costs of my actions, I experienced one of those "oh God!" moments of clarity. As the consequences began to pile up, my innocence and naivety faded to memories. I had become an adult. Worse yet, I had become my father (which, many years later, I realized wasn't all bad)! Being able to be present to help raise our own kids removed any lingering doubts for me -- all of the stuff I did which my parents told me was a bad idea actually was such. Too soon old, too late smart.
I wonder how today's young adults will react when their moment of clarity happens. Will everything be better after they take a time-out in the corner? Will Mom & Dad swoop in like helicopters at the last moment to demand special dispensation for Junior and Sally? Will receiving the same trophy as everyone else make the sting more bearable? Or will they simply walk away when life inevitably becomes a series of difficult choices with even less certain outcomes?
Don't get me wrong. I do not believe that all young people live in this kind of blissful oblivion, but the number of those who do is already too high. Volumes have been written and countless hours spent speaking about the unique (and some say "troubling") characteristics and value systems of the generation(s) we now call "Millennials". If even half of the observations and research are true--and I believe them to be--perhaps those accountable for releasing into the wild these unprepared progeny will just suck it up and handle the real consequences of their kids' actions. Oh, wait, you were probably already planning to do that, weren't you?