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Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be ungrateful brats.

Willie Nelson’s song about not letting our babies grow up to be cowboys has always been a favorite of mine, even though I’m not much of a fan of country music. 

Carole Townsend

“Don’t let ‘em pick guitars and drive them ol’ trucks. Let ‘em be doctors and lawyers and such,” Nelson admonishes mamas everywhere. I agree with Willie. Aim high.

Many classic songs get remade by other artists down through the years, and I got an idea for a remake of Nelson’s ditty when I read an article earlier this week. In the article, which stemmed from an interview between Bert (of “The Bert Show,” an Atlanta radio show) and a 22-year-old college student who called herself “Kim.” Kim called in to the show to discuss the fact that she had blown through a $90,000 college fund, even though she still had a year of college left. The poor girl was beside herself – with anger. She blamed her parents for not teaching her how to handle money and later in the interview, she said that her parents should pay for the rest of her college with their retirement money. The whole mess, after all, was all their fault.

I listened to the interview after I had read the article. “Surely,” I thought, “the writer misinterpreted the young woman’s statements. No one in her right mind would do what she did with the money, then take the attitude that she did.” I was wrong. 

Millenials. Granted, Kim is the exception (we can only hope), but honestly. What on earth has this young woman been taught that could justify her ingratitude and indignation? She said during the interview that her parents just handed the money over to her when she started college,  telling her that it was for college expenses only. Now I am by no means a parenting expert, but I would have never handed any of our 18-year-old children $90,000 and told them to spend it wisely. Seems to me that by doing that, Mom and Dad left the door wide open for trouble to walk right through. I wouldn’t give an 18-year-old a cat and expect it to be alive and in one piece the next day, but having raised four children, I tend to be a realist.

I think what bothered me the most as I listened to this young woman (and let’s call a spade a spade – this spoiled brat) was the fact that she had turned the whole thing around and made her parents the bad guys. Indignant when they told her that they had no more money to give her, she accused them of lying and boldly stated that they had worked long enough to have saved retirement money, and that they owed her that. I was dumbfounded when I heard those words. 

In fact, her awful parents actually suggested that she take out a loan to pay for the last year of school, and they even had the nerve to suggest that she get a job. Poor little Kim was incensed at that last. A job. The nerve of them.

As I listened to this 22-year-old child go on and on about the failings of her parents, and about what her parents owed her since she couldn’t make $90,000 last through four years’ worth of college expenses, I suppose I was more sad than anything. The expensive clothes and the European vacation that she took were, in her words, all just part of her education. She deserved them.

I suppose she’s right in one sense. Ninety thousand dollars just doesn’t go as far today as it used to, does it? And she’s right, too, in saying that her parents didn’t teach her. They didn’t teach her accountability. Common sense. Character. A work ethic. Or gratitude. They failed her in all those areas. The bad news is that she is now an adult – a voting, driving adult, and she is no longer just mommy and daddy’s problem. She has been turned loose on the world. Heaven help us, because there are a lot of “Kims” coming down the pike.

In an age in which children are given big, shiny trophies just for signing up to play a sport, and in which many parents are actually more concerned with angering their little darlings rather than teaching them, “Kims” are what we get. We get whiney, demanding holy terrors who feel as though their parents, and the world, owe them. We get young adults who have no idea what it is to work, to save their own money, to pay for something of value. 

Oh, I know that not all millenials are like this young woman, but many are. I know that, because we know people whose children think very much like Kim. They think that “work” is truly a four-letter word. They find the thought of going to W-O-R-K and having a B-O-S-S, of having to wait a whole year before taking a vacation, of having to show up to work five days a week (and before noon, for Pete’s sake), are all the stuff of nightmares. They want their trophies. They want their certificates of participation. They want their toys and vacations and stuff. And they want them now.

I fully expect to see a “Go Fund Me” page set up for Kim in the not-too-distant future.

So, if another musician decided to rewrite his own version of Willie Nelson’s classic, wonder what he’d warn us mamas about? Letting our babies grow up to be cowboys? I doubt it.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit