I KNOW!!! What I wrote in Part One was personal, and shocking for that reason. Yes, but, this issue needs exploring to put it in a healthy perspective. It may be an almost exclusive WHITE MIDDLE CLASS issue – I don’t know for sure, and I certainly do not mean to leave anyone out of this group of Boomers due to my ignorance. First, for clarity: What you may, or may not, have perceived from Part One of my commentary is that I am very proud of my son, his soul-mate wife, and my grandchildren. How could he be my son and not be independent, immediately and passionately (inside his domain / home) family oriented, and successful at whatever he chooses to endeavor. When I do see him, he is very forthcoming with apology for his busy life, and never forgets to tell me he loves me. On many occasions over the years he has sincerely rewarded me with praise. I have a file full of Birthday, Mother’s Day, and Christmas Cards that say wonderful things – not just about his opinion of me – but also, about he and I. Over the last 5 years many people have contacted me privately to tell me their woes that almost mirror mine identically regarding our mostly absent Generation X children (Gen X). I believe I know of several reasons that work in conjunction with each other to have left us with the outcomes we are experiencing. We are a significant number of the Baby Boom Generation (Boomers) who are experiencing the loss of immediate and close relationship with our Gen X children.
1) An easy one: Boomer’s Parents, and our schools were strict. When Boomers were children, we – who mostly spoke when we were spoken to – made up our minds that we would discipline our children in kinder ways, and listen to what our children had to say. OH boy!!! Speaking for me, I was an idiot. Before the last 20 years with John, I was for all practical purposes a single parent (even when previously married to another child to raise). What my children knew about manipulating me with guilt, even when they were five years old, would have shocked me if I had understood it at that time.
These Gen X children who voiced their opinions on everything under the sun have decided that the candy-xxx discipline we doled out was excessive. Right. Taking my son’s phone out of his bedroom until he brought his grades up, each and every time, caused my son to opine of how truly cruel I was. Well, always, within a week he would bring me notes from all teachers who would relay to me that his work was all turned in and his grade back up to an A or a B – depending on the subject. Discipline works.
One of the chief reasons these Gen Xers avoid us is their embarrassment when their children behave like undisciplined savages. Two minute time outs do zero to discipline children. When one of his children behaves in such manner around John and me, I can see the pure frustration and embarrassment in my son’s eyes and his body language. He knows I can read his signs, and that just compounds the whirlwind of feelings in the room. I can totally understand that his life is easier if the evidence of failed modern acceptable discipline results are not seen by me. When I explain how my young son was the happiest when his boundaries and known consequences were enforced, I also seem to lose any possible bond with my daughter-in-love.
2) Gen X children are too busy to include their parents in their lives. Fair enough. But, we must ask why do they schedule themselves and their children 24/7/365 days a year? I don’t have a lot of answers here, but do know that their lives are so full of scheduled events, I worry that they have enough time with each other – much less time with John and I.
I remember watching my son being crushed under homework every night and most of his weekends when I made the decision to pull him out of the “gifted and talented” curriculum at school. I believe children need to be children, and that means they should let their imaginations run wild playing outside with other children. My children never met strangers, so they were really good at socializing. If you want to hear laughter in and around your home, you must let your children play outside until they smell like wet puppies.
It seems like our grandchildren’s playmates and best friends are their parents who take them to play dates, and birthday parties’ non-stop all year. On top of that they are taken to dance lessons, acrobatic lessons, piano lessons, and other kinds of lessons. When do these kids get to be in frequent free play outside developing not only social skills, but practical thinking on your feet skills?
3} Below are descriptions, an expert has given to the Boomers, and Gen X which most of our children were born into. I think it gives us some insight into the phenomenon of our children loving us from a distance.
“BOOMERS Born 1946 – 1964
An amalgam of two distinct sub-sets: the save-the-world revolutionaries of the ‘60s, followed by the self-improvement party’ers of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Career-driven. The Golden Generation in the American workplace. Assertive. Leaders. Ethical. Demanding. Struggled with marriage and parenting. America will now be a Boomer-led nation into the 2030’s. This generation will never fully retire, and this is about to change America’s workplace, marketplace, and lifestyle profoundly.
GEN-X Born 1965 – 1981 – [My children were born 1973, and 1979.]
The latch-key kids grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or time-starved dual-career parents. Entrepreneurial. Independent. Creative. Career “free agents”. Feel disempowered and disengaged. Eager to make marriage work and “be there” for their children. Starting to chalk up some victories in life. X’ers are rising. They’ll lead America in the 2030’s and 2040’s. They will give our nation excellent “idea leadership” but will need training to become good “people leaders”.
“FIRST-WAVE MILLENNIALS Born: 1982 – 1996 (and still coming!)” You can go find this group if you are interested. They are our grandchildren, and some late Boomer children – but, not the Boomer children we are thinking about in this commentary.
© 2009 The Generational Imperative, Inc. All rights reserved.
The first thing I noticed is that the “expert” wrote something negative about the Gen X childhood because of their parents, and nothing about Boomer parents. I could write a book on how dysfunctional most Boomer homes were. If they were not actually divorcing, they were constantly threatening to. What sticks out most for me, is that because Boomer parents experienced the Depression as children, and WWII in their teen and young adult lives, they often lived through us – and even forcing us to be whom they wished they could have been as teens and young adults. It is hard to measure up to someone else’s dream. But, I digress . . . we are trying to understand why so many Gen X children have little time for their Boomer parents.
I believe that many Gen Xers hold some kind of a dual loving admiration and jealousy of who we Boomers were, and the world we lived in . . . let us look again at pieces of the Boomer description:
We Boomers were “fast trackers” – “movers and shakers” – well read – over educated – self-educated – an amazing society of engaged and successful people. We lived the American dream. White and Blue collar workers came together to achieve the most amazing advances in every industry on the planet. We enjoyed the last decades of true Capitalism, which made the Middle Class grow by leaps and bounds. If this was not Gen X parents, they felt like they were cheated. If it was their parents, they also felt cheated because we worked 55 hour work weeks to get ahead. At the time, we were determined to give our kids any advantage possible to insure their futures were as bright, or brighter than ours.
Somehow, many Gen Xers did not appreciate the link between the Middle Class lifestyle they enjoyed, and how hard we Boomers worked. It also seems probable that when Gen Xers size up todays often negative atmosphere for similar levels of endeavor, they have given up without showing true American Culture at its best, by peacefully fighting back to make the ultimate checks and balances of our government work, and answerable to We The People.
Many Boomers realized that the link between home, food, clothes, schools, entertainment, and the massive man/hours we worked to achieve the best we were capable of providing, was not translating to the values our children should have received by the process. Like many, determined to make them understand, I sent my Gen X teenagers out into the world to earn money after school, and summers.
I remember the first week my teen son worked on a concrete crew; a job I had attained for him. He railed against me for two weeks; claiming I was trying to kill him via jackhammer death in the crouched position to make holes in concrete for rebar. At the end of his second week, he received his first paycheck – and Katie Bar the Door!!!!!! This is undoubtedly the planted seed of why he works so hard and owns his own business. (I really need a smiley face here!) At the end of that summer he wanted to keep working and earning money, and screw school. Not a chance my genius son would be allowed to drop out!
My son received that job because of my connections. Jobs for teenagers in America was a part of our heritage. Due to open borders, the summer and after school jobs that should have been there for our teenaged Gen Xers, to build their young character on, went to adult illegal aliens. When they graduated and entered the workforce, not only did many have no experience to put on their resumes, but the national economic failures left few jobs for them to have. Even those who attained degrees were working for a fraction of what they dreamed, for so long, they would be earning.
Gen Xers by the thousands compared their lives to their parents, and it became easier to disconnect from us than to feel they had failed to keep their place among the Middle Class they were raised in.
Here is where Boomers can visualize good reason for resentment: The day of honorable Capitalism is gone. What our Gen Xers are experiencing is a government hostile to the small and medium business. Endless laws & regulations steal the fruits of their labor. Laws like Obamacare are designed to put a burden on the small and medium business that it cannot bear. What our Gen Xers are dealing with is CRONY Capitalism, whereby large international corporations and our own out of control government are in cahoots to destroy the Middle Class.
Giving away our Gen Xers industries, jobs, and tax dollars to illegal immigrants, and our enemies in foreign countries has done nothing to bring up the standards of any other country, and sold out our American Culture and Heritage. We Boomers understand that the Gen Xers blame us. What the Gen Xers do not understand is that until the last two decades, the deceptions of our government, the undermining of our schools, and the trashing of our economy was done covertly. The last two decades are on both the Boomer and the Gen Xers for allowing it to happen. Sadly, our Gen X children do not have the necessary tools to do a peaceful economic and government re-set . . . they scarcely understand what our American heritage / culture is, therefore they blame their Boomer parents for their “bad luck.”
4) Major differences in the Boomers and our Gen X children which has caused division over time:
– Fear. Boomers experienced some levels of fear in their young lives regarding assassinations of leaders, Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, and Vietnam. This pales in comparison to a long list of major events our Gen X children have experienced in their young lives moving forward to the present day: being desensitized by the sex and violence on the big and little screen, 9/11, crazy dictators obtaining Nukes, the roller coaster economy, EMP threats, trying to determine why there is government insistence on a debunked Global Warming – and all the business smothering regulations created because of it, terrorist threats including biological warfare, never ending wars and rumors of wars, explosive economy with constant threats of a dollar collapse.
– Faith. Boomers were raised in an atmosphere of Christian principles and values, and a strong family unit. Even if Boomers were not actively attending church, or even Christian, society’s principles and values was the choice of America. 93% of Americans were Christian when I graduated high school in 1970. Of course there were criminals, because we are flawed humans. Most Christians in the 60’s considered themselves “born again,” gospel believing, Christians who were positively changed on the day they accepted the Lord into their lives.
The Christianity of today must largely be the apostate kind with weak principles and values, because we have millions of secularists telling us that evil or bad is just as valid for living as those principles and values that I have carried with me from my childhood forward. Today 78% of Americans are “Christians.” They do not like the crime levels, and ignored American Christian principles and values any more than I do, but they are willing to say your god and my God are the same god, and “whatever” when you try to tie them down on living in a Christian America. Just one quick example, in a sea of examples we could live by . . . we would have to throw out 95% of our television and movie content to bring our lives in line with Christian principles and values.
Due to my upbringing, Boomers expected to be instrumental in our children having a better life than we did. Due to my son’s upbringing, he expects to be instrumental in his children having a better life.
In the long run, and looking at the rule, and not the exception, our expectations will not be met, and more so for my dear grandchildren.
I do not have all of the answers as to why so many of our Gen Xers have distanced themselves from parents they love and respect. The several reasons above are part of the phenomenon. I have read that America has twice turned around inside of six months back to the Lord, and Christian principles and values. Is it possible for this to happen when so many are just making it through each day the best they can, and isolating those from their lives that may be able to help them more spiritually than the apostate church / secular church that is sweeping up our Gen Xers – if they even bother with church at all.
Many, many Boomers have abandoned our churches, recognizing them for the changed entities they are in the process of becoming. THE CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST. There should never have been division, upon division, upon division of The Christian Church. Along with these divisions – departing from our foundational Christian teachings for man-made denominational religions – departing from the worship in Jewish homes in the early church for man-made cathedrals and statues with so much money it could have fed the world over and over for decades.
My Mother’s Day card from my son, “Mom, I’ve been thinking of all the great memories from being your son! Thank you for all the fun and love I experienced through my life because of you!!” This doesn’t sound like a Gen X son who neglects his relationship with his mother. It is like my Gen Xer is away at some insane camp that Boomers are not allowed into. They know what we would say and do. The “wisdom of grandparents” is not something these Gen Xers are willing to allow into their lives, and their children’s lives. It would not be convenient to the image they have of themselves, when we are near and dear.
As I stated in Part One, I am always open to any ideas you have for solving this heart wrenching problem. How do we bring our Gen Xers back into our lives, and the whole country back to the Lord? It is true that all of the above is almost mind numbing when you consider it all together, but each issue needs to be reconciled before there is unity in our families. There is so much division in our land that is described as political, racial, ethical, etc. etc. etc. I know that our willingness to live with these political issues, without calling the leaders out for lying about every division they have caused, has left the nation in sad repair. Perhaps if we could solve the divisions between generations first, we could then tackle the rest of it together.
Copyright © 2015 by Juanita Holloway-Walters
All Rights Reserved