Change

Change
Turning Over New Leaf

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It Ain’t Over …

th_FatLadySings

I have taken notice lately of an obvious changing tide in the USA.

At the turn of the 20th century, people, throughout their lifetimes, did not travel far from their birth places. Transportation was relatively primitive compared to the modes of today, so families remained connected within a 25-50 mile diameter. The result was a closer bonding among family members, where grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws took active roles in helping to formulate family and societal values. We learned to be independent and self-sufficient, and while we rarely leaned on our relatives, the strong support system was always there for back up.

With the advent of automobiles, railroad trains, airplanes, and fast-moving ships, families scattered to settle our vast nation. Most of us now have relatives in Maine, California, Minnesota, and Hawaii, with whom we occasionally share quality time. No citations are required to prove the changing structure of the American family. Yet for the plus 40 crowd, the world is morphing once again.
The tired-from-hunting-and-nest-building bird frees its young from the safety of the tree only to see them fly back, hungry, with no game plan, chanting, “Where’s the worm to which I am entitled? It’s not fair”!

My questions are simply these: How do we abandon the values imparted to us through our strong family bonds of the past? How do we justify not being there for our children who have only been shaving for 15 years? When is the parental obligation over?
Our minds have the answers, but our hearts are anchored.

Maybe, it’s time for a new series of lessons. Sing us a tune, Madame.

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14 comments:

  1. Oh I'm happy to report that our family unit is very close knit, and so much together that I have friends who often complain that I spend all my free time with my grandchildren and children! (Not always true! ha ha!) As for my grandchildren I'm the number one go to for anytime my own children want time without the munchkins! Sleepovers here are weekly! Pretty much the alpha grandma...and my favorite thing is showing them the world, be it what animal track is that, to the library (Yes even at their young age, it's amazing what our libraries have today) and yes I still offer home cooked big time meals, and we try to devote Sundays (when we can) to family time. We are thank God above connected, my biggest fear is that anyone of them ever having to move away from Minnesota! Even my own dreams of living else where vanish at the thought of not being there at the precise moment anyone of them needs me! For me, my biggest joy is appreciating the family we created together.

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  2. Karen S: My wife and I have enjoyed a very similar relationship with our family members. In fact, when we moved to Florida from New Hampshire ten years ago, all four of our kids followed us south and live in St. Augustine. Our lives are intertwined, and we love it!

    However, most of our friends spend all their days putting bandaids on their kids' wounds. They appear to be forfeiting their lives in attempts to meet the obligations their children refuse to acknowledge. We are saddened by what we see happening to familial relationships in our culture.

    I am thrilled to hear that you are enjoying family - the way it was meant to be!

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  3. This is one of those questions that you can plan an entire semester's courseload around. There are so many variables at work here. My father and I used to have soooo many discussions on this subject and offshoots of this subject. Of course, there was never an "answer" because so many facets come into play. Hence the reason this could be a class in say... sociology.

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  4. Robin: I wholeheartedly agree. Hence, the label at the bottom of this post.

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  5. JJ its never over.. Being a parent is a life long job... I thought that when my kids went to college that that was it for me being the parent.. I have to say for the most part they can handle whatever comes but every now and then I will get the call or the surprise visit... They will ask advice on the little things... I am thankful that they listened to what my husband and I taught them... To this day, even I will call my mom and ask for advice or an opinion or just needing validation.... Nothing wrong in that...Being a parent is eternal just like a family is...Traditions, customs get passed on...

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  6. I see this, too, both the sense of entitlement (which they bring with them all the way to law school) and the extended parenting.

    One of the ramifications of this phenomenon is exactly what you describe--burned out, exhausted parents. I'm not sure that we do our kids any favors, and we certainly aren't doing ourselves any favors by enabling their prolonged childhood. This is very different from the support you describe of yore when kids took responsibility and family was there to back them up.

    Maybe this started with some of the child centered parenting theories that became so popular. And with parents who were already tired trying to work and raise kids without the support of an extended family network.

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  7. Daer JJ,
    I am not American, but I share your thoughts. In my country your questions are also absolutely right! Progress has driven us to a kind of life that is not the best, I am sure and, sometimes, we should stop and reflect about it. Thank you for remind us of that!

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  8. I agree with all of you. Isn't it amazing that we think alike, but our kids are in a different zone? Some of us do luck out, but others stress over the relationships they have with their children.

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  9. Some of our children have come back to live with us temporarily due to job loss,or transfers. They always paid their own way while here, and got out a soon as they were able. I know some controlling parents whose children are still on the payroll, and I feel sorry for those kids.

    In this family, we will throw a temporary life saver, but ultimately it's "sink or swim" if one wants to get ahead in life.

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  10. Judie: I'm with you. That's the way it used to be. Today, it's, "Where's my room, mom. I don't believe in work."

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  11. My wife and I are lucky enough to have 4 of our five children close by in Arizona. I do have one daughter attending school in San Diego. She's been there 3 years and for 3 years I've been saying I'm going to set my computer up with the skype application.Thanks for reminding me, JJ.

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  12. #167 Dad: Skype is terrific. When my son moved to San Antonio for work a few years back, we communicated that way. It does help while they're away.

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  13. I miss my brothers and sister my kids and grandkids but it also a two way street.

    As Whitney used to say.
    "I will always love you"

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  14. Whitesnake: A two-way street - absolutely!

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