Monday, 20 February 2017

Midlife Monday ~ Our Caught In The Middle Generation

How did Midlifers get to be the caught in the middle generation?

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 PARENTS

When 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 PARENTS

Then 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!).


How did Midlifers get to be the caught in the middle generation?
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 CHILDREN

As 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 CHILDREN

This 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 MIDDLE

So, 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! 

How did Midlifers get to be the caught in the middle generation?


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19 comments:

  1. I agree with your points. I have been asking myself why I still 'get the guilts' about not visiting Dad often (he's a long way away and I am not into traveling down regularly ) yet our kids dont feel that way about us. Did we raise our kids with too much freedom? Maybe. I see those kids now parenting in yet another way 'befriending' their kids. It's not always the way to go!! Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek 8/52. Next Week: Taking Stock.

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    1. I don't know how they escaped being guilt tripped into running around after us Denyse. We obviously didn't ignore them enough as children :) I kind of envy them their ability to get on with their own lives and not worry too much about the oldies!

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  2. I've had this conversation frequently as of late with friends. I was a late starter with having a child so I'm 47 and -11. I think you nailed it at least among my friend group that the children are bucking the adjective dutiful

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    1. It's strange that they don't feel compelled to be dutiful like we do Carla - my kids are respectful, loving and great human beings - they just don't feel the need to be bossed around by their parents - where did I go wrong?? :)

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  3. I felt this way for awhile, but since my kids have "aged" they have become more and more caring and loyal. They actually worry about me and we have a wonderful close relationship now...they are all over 40, so I think that makes a difference. They had sowed their wild oats and now want to be my "kids" again...

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    1. So I might not die alone after all Renee? It's nice to know that they might want to keep an eye on their ageing mother and father when the time comes. Luckily we don't need looking after yet because they're busy doing their own thing atm :)

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    2. Renee, that is such a beautiful perspective. I have felt my relationship with my parents change now that I'm in my forties and I hope my parents see me now as being more caring and loyal than I was when I was younger.

      SSG xxx

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  4. You crack me up, the kids texting their regrets! My sister who has 3 adult children and each have 2 babies/toddlers are looking at her with new respect. As she says, she is getting smarter every day in her children's eyes!

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    1. Mine haven't figured out how wonderful I am yet Haralee - they're too busy living their own lives. Now and then we get a look in, so there is still hope that they might be around when we hit our dotage :)

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  5. It is so good to hear I'm not alone. Still it is my own fault, I brought my kids up to be independant and free so I can't really expect them to be the same with me as I was with my parents. I do feel like I'm in the middle though with looking after my MIL and then worrying about the kids. I wish I could think more like my children and do what I want to do not what I should do. Agreed with all your points Leanne. x

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    1. They seem to have the ability to separate themselves from all the duties that we assumed came with age Sue. Maybe we were similar at the same stage - I just don't remember being such separate entities. I envy them their ability to not be 'guilt tripped' into their obligations, but I wish there was still the automatic entitlement for those of us in the middle.

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  6. This post was awesome and I could identify with it all. I read it to my husband and all we could say was "amen to that".
    How it has changed.
    Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon party,
    Bev

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    1. I'm so glad you and your husband "got it" Bev - sometimes it's nice to know that I'm not the only one feeling left by the side of the road while still juggling the responsibility of being a good daughter, mother, sister etc

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  7. It's fascinating how relationships and parent-child dynamics have completely changed in such a short period of time. It does make you wonder how my kids, for instance, will relate to their kids down the track - electronically????

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    1. Maybe it will do a turn around Kirsty and kids will notice what they've missed by not having to be responsible for their parents' happiness (I doubt it though!) I think you'll be getting texts for your birthday instead of cards :)

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  8. I sometimes want to rip those stupid phones out of their hands & grind them under my heels. GRRRR. And, on the other side of the coin, why do our parents forget that the roads run both ways (and THEY are retired!), as do the phone lines!

    I came to visit through Wednesdays AIM link party; hope you'll find time to stop by the 4Shoes when you have some time.

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and I can see you get the whole caught in the middle thing. It seems like we dance to the tune of everyone else and nobody dances to ours!

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  9. Kids of today are not like we were as kids, young adults of today are not like we were as young adults. I know some young adults that you have to get an appointment to go visit them! Thanks Leanne from Grammy Dee, #WednesdayAIM #LinkUp #BlogParty, social media shared.

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    1. I know - it's all changed so much in the last decade Dee - we still run around trying to keep everyone happy, and the next generation doesn't feel at all responsible to do the same - maybe they're smarter than us?!

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