I was having coffee with my sister-in-law (and great buddy) the other day and we were discussing the expectations placed on us and how that's changed with the next generation. Our adult "kids" have no qualms with living their own lives autonomously and they have no problem at all with leaving their parents to their own devices.
OUR PARENTSWhen we were growing up, children were still 'seen and not heard'. We were basically left to our own devices and we did what we were told. None of our parents would have given a thought to what we wanted, it was an adult world and we fitted into it. There wasn't a world of entertainment designed specifically for children - no "Wiggles" or "Peppa Pig" even Sesame Street didn't exist when we were little.
Our parents never asked us for our opinions. We did what we were told, didn't ask too many questions, ate what was put before us, kept our mouths shut and generally got along fine. We didn't have expensive educational toys, or the latest fad, we rode secondhand bikes, played marbles, elastics, skippy and other cheap and "out from under our parents' feet' games. We had curfews as teenagers, limited access to things that might 'get us into trouble' and pretty strict controls on us (at least until we could drive and escape).
MIDLIFERS AS PARENTSThen it changed with our generation, and our children suddenly had voices and preferences and entitlements. We had experts telling us what was best to feed them, what type of toys were "stimulating for young minds", what TV shows shouldn't be missed. We went to parent/teacher interviews, helped with homework, drove to extra-curricular activities, made sure there were sleep-overs, fun things to do, and access to the internet (when it was invented!).
|Our daughter "enjoying" my company!|
We learned not to ask our teenagers too many questions, we learned to keep our mouths shut and look for clues, we suddenly weren't allowed to comment on clothing choices, boyfriend/girlfriend choices, spending choices, friend choices, our opinions were pretty much "poo-poo'ed" and dismissed as old fashioned. There never really seemed to be a time where the world revolved around us and our kids were the bystanders.
MIDLIFERS AS ADULT CHILDRENAs we became adults we still fitted our parents into our lives. They had a lot of say in our weddings, the cost, the guest list, the venue, etc etc - "after all they were paying for it"... Then there was the advice on how to parent, the expectations of being visited regularly, the family traditions that couldn't be altered under any circumstance, the understanding that you would help if needed, you'd call every week (at least) and listen to their tales of illness or upset, and the list goes on.
OUR ADULT CHILDRENThis is where the generation gap widens further.....for some reason our adult children took their independence and ran for the hills. Their weddings were their weddings, we paid our fair share and they told us what we needed to know - and who was being invited, and where it was happening.
We don't give advice unless it's specifically asked for, we don't expect to be visited or called until our adult kids have a spare bit of time (or they need something). Our family traditions adapt to their needs, and our expectations get watered down to the minimum so that everyone stays happy ("everyone" being those darn adult kids).
CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLESo, somehow we've managed to become the Midlife Caught in the Middle generation. My daughter tells me that just because we sucked up being 'dutiful' children for our entire lives, doesn't mean we have to perpetuate it through to them. And she has a point. This next generation is so focused on itself and its own needs, that we should consider ourselves lucky if we get a look in now and then. At least we were invited to their weddings, and we get called now and then to check we're still around.
I have come to the conclusion that I will be dying alone with my cat (if my husband beats me off this mortal coil). Hopefully the neighbours in the retirement home will notice I'm gone before the smell becomes too bad (and before the cat eats me). Maybe the kids will have time to come to the funeral - or at least send their regrets by text!