I have always been intrigued by each generation, the strengths, differences, and similarities are so vast. I have a special interest in generational parenting, it amazes me to see the changes in parenting but also to take notice of the things that have not changed over time.
I thought and thought about how I would approach this subject and realized I couldn’t do it alone so I reached out to some blogging friends of mine and together we have created a month long Generational Parenting Series. Each week this month you will hear from a mother telling us her perspective on parenting. Look for a wrap up of my point of view on the last week. I look forward to sharing this journey of motherhood with each of you.
Thoughts from a Gen X Mom JENNIFER GRIFFIN
When I planned our trip to Panama to visit my mother-in-law for six weeks, I never imagined I would be experiencing the extra bonus of reliving the 1970’s with my children—a bit like visiting an intergenerational theme park.
Nostalgic moments filled our rented house as I talked on the telephone attached to the wall, twisting the long coiled cord around my index finger. As I taught my children the art of adjusting the T.V. antenna to get a clearer picture, I half-heartedly hoped the fuzz would not appear during an important scene, but squealed with delight when it did because it was another chance to share a glimpse of my childhood with my kids.
With only four T.V. channels, my kids would look forward to whatever cheesy special was advertised for the next day, even though the shows were in Spanish—a language they did not understand. There were no remotes so we would lazily negotiate who had to get up next to change the channel.
As we watched the 2012 Olympics on this primitive color TV, we failed to realize that Gabriella’s leotard was not the color we thought until we caught a glimpse on the neighbor’s newer analog television.
Without reliable electricity, the kids needed to rely on playing with each other and the neighbors. One thunderstorm-filled afternoon, my daughter and her new neighborhood friend ran back and forth between houses gathering ingredients to make cupcakes. They sat cross-legged on the kitchen floor relishing in the simplicity of watching their cupcakes rise through the oven door.
Even though I welcomed the gift and surprise of living with a touch of the seventies with my kids, many defining Generation X moments were not captured in Panama, such as sitting in my fourth-grade classroom in dismay as I watched the Space Shuttle blow up, receiving the news of President Reagan being shot, getting a microwave and home computer, playing Atari and watching MTV.
How do these experiences compare with Generation Y growing up with massive school shootings, the aftermath of 911, the birth of Facebook and the iPhone and all the fear and confusion, yet global access that these events provide?
No one really knows the answer to that, but we do know that each generation of parents struggle in some areas and thrive in others. For Generation X, parents seem to struggle the most with how to control access to media. This is especially challenging as schools start to integrate technology into the classrooms.
Many of us spend excessive time unsuccessfully trying to control our children’s media consumption while many other parents give up and look the other way, buried in our own media addiction. Some of us search furiously for apps that restrict our children’s media access. I have yet to find something that covers all the bases while allowing a child to complete their homework assignments and be able to maintain their social connections.
Regardless of your view on media, all parents wish for their children to grow into happy, functional, and flourishing adults, which I believe is what parents of every generation have always wanted for their children.
Generation X parents fall down most when it comes to using scheduled playdates.These playdates with the added endless after-school activities put our kids in controlled environments with so many time constraints, leaving them with too little down time and the inability to develop trust in themselves and learn how to solve unexpected problems.
Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, reports that violent crime is down from the 1970’s, yet we allow excessive media to fuel our paranoia as we surrender to the litigious nature of our society.
On the flip side, Generation X parents thrive when we invest in our children’s feelings, asking our kids what they feel and teaching them to express themselves.
Although Generation Y is spoiled with instant photos and the expectation of constant entertainment, such as jumpy houses at virtually every event, they are growing up with a sensitivity to the underdog, witnessing many triumphs for them, such as the legalization of gay marriage and the rise of a global community.
To conclude, I want to apologize to the Millenials and Generation Y for whatever part I played in the mess of environmental and political disasters created and reinforced by the Baby Boomer and Generation Xers. I trust that your generation’s team playing skills and underdog advocacy will help resolve these tremendous challenges.
As I wrote this article, I fantasized about a Generations theme park where we immerse ourselves in the paraphernalia of our own generation and fully explore other generations.
Comment below about how you parent differently than your parent’s generation and what you would like to see in such a theme park.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN is the founder of the Spiritual Gift Institute and has over twenty years experience guiding children and adults on their relationship journeys. After ten years in the throes of hyperemesis gravidarum, she is slowly emerging and can’t stop writing about her experiences bringing her four magical children to Earth. When she is not writing, she enjoys urban farming, life schooling her four children, DIY healing challenges, forest bathing and reading young adult fiction and old National Geographic magazines. She is the author of Understanding Your Child As A Spiritual Gift and an upcoming memoir and resource guide, Understanding Morning Sickness As A Gift. Visit her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferGriffinBooks or connect on Twitter: http://twitter.com/spiritualgiftxo