Off the Line: Generation gap in parenting not so large

Okay. I will admit it. I think I have become a bit intolerant in my older years.

Okay. I will admit it. I think I have become a bit intolerant in my older years. (I was going to say old age, but hey, I am only 62!).

The other day I was in a store and could hear the piercing scream of a child. It wasn’t pleasant. I mean, seriously, why do I have to listen to that? I did my time. Can’t you control your child?

But then I came upon the mother with her children. There were two of them, extremely close in age. Both were cranky, miserable, demanding and basically little monsters.

Once again I was wondering why mom couldn’t get those little brats under control. (Please don’t stone me readers. Keep reading and let me redeem myself.)

When I looked at mom and the kids I suddenly remembered (after many, many years) that parenting is not easy. Mom looked frazzled and tired. Maybe she had little support. Maybe her day sucked from morning light. I don’t know. She looked totally done in.

Her two boys were only about one and two years old. They were tired. Or maybe their nappies were wet. Or maybe they were hungry. I don’t know. They weren’t bad kids, they were simply kids.

For some reason, instead of being a crotchety old woman who all of a sudden believes every child should be perfect and so should their parent, I was brought back to those days when I was a young woman struggling to raise a child.

I was not perfect. There was no training manual. I made huge mistakes and wish I could rewind and do it all over again. Unfortunately I can’t.

But what I can do, as a woman, and elder and mother who had many challenges in front of her, is honour and respect the job our young women (and parents) are doing today.

Raising children today is a hair-raising adventure. Things are not so bucolic. There is much to consider.

I have many friends of child-bearing age and those who are almost finish raising children. Their task is monumental. For the most part they are no different than my generation. They love their children. They want them to succeed. They cry tears. They bleed and their hearts ache when their children step into an abyss and they can’t help them.

A lot has been said about the generation now raising children, but I have to say that I have grudging respect for them. They are not raising children in easy times.

Those parents came from an era when to their parents, family was family. When things were black and white and when families sat down together at mealtime. They know what engaging and being present in their children’s life means. And yet they are walking a fine balancing that line between yesteryear and today.

Their children have all the technology at their fingertips. Their phones sometimes ring during dinner hour. Parents have trouble engaging with them because their iPhone is more important than anything in the world.

Despite that, I am happy and proud to say that I know many young parents who are not much different than me or my parents. We have a common denominator. We love our children and  want the best for them.

Sure, those younger parents today might have piercings, tats and other things I won’t talk about, but when you get down to ground zero, they are the same as the boomer generation, the boomer generation’s parents and those parents’ parents.

I remember a song which was funny, but somewhat not. The lyrics were, “Kids, I don’t know what’s wrong with those kid’s today/Kids who can say and do anything they say/Kids, who are so impossible and so immature. I don’t know why anybody likes then …”

Of course there are variations of the lyrics, but what that song underlines is that between each generation there can be a bit of a disconnect and non-misunderstanding.

For the most part there are parents today who make a proactive effort to engage with their children and raise socially conscientious human beings.

To those parents I bow down to you. It can’t be easy in today’s climate. It can’t be easy when the world seems to be spinning out of control and contrary to your beliefs and morals. Let me whisper in your ear. Please hear me. What you are doing with your children now is a great foundation for that generation to carry on my and your dreams.

Believe in yourself. Your parenting skills are on point. You are doing just fine. Most important of all, your children will be just fine too.

 

Thank you. I feel better that the world I have enjoyed will have contributing citizens thanks to your efforts.

 

 

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