Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Thoughts, Please! About Our Generation...

There's something that has been on my mind for a while, and I'm still thinking about it, but would like to hear other people's input.

I've noticed, in talking to my peers, that often our parents have a hard time letting us, their adult kids, "go". They mean well, and it's nice that they want to help, but it seems hard for them to accept that we are adults, and in charge of our own lives now. It's not a horrible thing, but I wonder if this is relatively new? Am I wrong in thinking that a couple generations ago, this wasn't the case? I know a lot of things have changed in the last 2-3 generations.

Is it because our generation is more independent-minded than in the past? And that we don't grow up and stay in the same community our whole lives anymore? Some grandparents have a less active role in their grandkids lives for a variety of reasons, so they try to get whatever control and influence they can?

Is it because there is so much new, and often conflicting, information out there about parenting? What was done a generation or two ago is no longer acceptable, which could be hard for them to accept. There is also a wide range of current "acceptable" parenting styles, and opinions on these styles. A few generations ago, I don't think parenting choices caused this much of a headache. You just did what you did, and it was generally the same thing your parents did. So it's understandable that our parents could be a little hurt or offended that we do things differently than they did, even though we are basing our decisions on research, and not meaning to be hurtful through our decisions. We do it because we think that is the best for our kids, we are not resentful about the way we were raised.

Is it because our parents were the first to have access to birth control, and therefore having children was a choice, something they did for themselves, as opposed to something that just happened as a result of marriage? In the past people had kids because that's just what people did, it was expected, and maybe even was considered a contribution to society and the future. Obviously this is no longer true, today having children is a serious and profound decision, and not necessarily right for everyone. This is the point I have been contemplating the most. Our parents, in general (everyone has their own individual story, of course) were able to have children for their own fulfillment, and had a lot of control over their family size (and many other aspects of family life). So when we grow up and move away, there is a huge void there, their source of fulfillment is gone.

Is it because the world wasn't as "safe" when we grew up as in past generations, so our parents were more involved in our lives, overlooking and controlling much more than past generations? Having fewer kids makes it easier to micro-manage as well. I find with myself, the more kids I have, the more "free-range" I become. In the past, when families were bigger, it was just impossible to be involved with every aspect of your childrens' lives. Also, we have so many modern conveniences today, that we actually have enough "free time" to spend with our kids that past generations didn't have.

Is it because we have been "protected" and "coddled" so much our whole lives that we are afraid/refuse to be responsible for ourselves, and thus look to our parents/the government/other people to take care of us and our kids? Our whole culture in general has been trying to pawn off any personal responsibility since World War 2 it seems.

Is it a mix of all of these reasons? Other things I haven't thought of yet?

These are just some thoughts that have been running through my head, I'm not trying to come to any solid conclusions. And I'm NOT complaining, just observing, and thinking out loud. Maybe I am totally off in thinking that this is a relatively new concept. But I would love to hear your thoughts on this too! Do you think it is different for young parents today who are starting out vs when our grandparents were new parents? Obviously it's different in many ways, but I'm thinking as far as how much, and in what ways, grandparents are involved in the raising of their grandkids, and how easily/readily they can "let go" of control over their adult children. Also, what other reasons could there be for these changes? Do you think it's a positive or nagative change, or simply just humanity evolving with our circumstanes in life?

Thanks! I look forward to hearing from you.


Justice Pirate said...

hmm I know that I think I learned from my mom a lot. . .she used to tell me how she never understood why parents would always want to keep their babies as babies or that they said, "isn't this the best age" about infants. She said she always liked how she could talk to her kids and get into spiritual conversations and watch us learn and grow. . .and I am exactly the same way with my own kids. I hear the things my mom always told me about now. Weird. I look forward to my kids growing.

My parents are very active in my sons' lives. I think that is nice. . .i never saw my grandparents and honestly with all the grand kids they had they didn't care about me and never showed me love ever.

Ashley said...

I think that much of what you're talking about Kelly has quite a bit to do with this notion of "growing up".
Pre-WW2, there was no teenage period. Children were expected at certain ages to take on tasks that helped the family. Teenagers were expected to obtain jobs to supplement family incomes.
Now, we're encouraged to "wait...you're too young to get married" and delay any adult responsibility as long as possible. This is often encouraged by our parents. We may move out but we never really grow up. Many of my friends have unhealthy attachment with their parents, only facilitated by the over nurturing family of origin.

Kelly said...

Thank you Victoria and Ashley, those are both great responses! More for me to think about...