The Generation Gap

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal that my husband sent my way and I realized how true most of it was. This generation (our generation) is relying more and more on their parents to provide child care. I started thinking about this because it is a phenomenon really. When we grew up, for the average family in the 70s and 80s, one parent stayed home and took care of the kids- generally, the mom. That is how things were. Despite the cost of living, it was just understood that one parent would be at home, and somehow things would work out on one salary. More and more families lived within their means too. I saw another news story on NBC the other night that talked about how people these days (in our generation) are buying homes beyond their means. It was the norm to have a 900-1500 sq ft home in the 80s and not to exceed your means. Your entire life savings was not going into your home and a home was a place to live and on one income, a 15-year mortgage was the best because after all, you needed shelter.

Most families were able to live on one income and still save somewhat for retirement. Family came first and child care was not an option. Most moms were not professionals either – they were either teachers, secretaries or not educated enough – so, it was not worth it anyway.

Nowadays, things are different – due to the women’s liberation, equal pay and equal rights, more and more women are in the workplace. Women are in unconventional trades- military, science, and the like. More and more women are travelling further and more than their husbands. Men are actually staying at home with the kids now because the wives make more. However, more and more – both mom and dad are working and need to because lifestyles and times have changed. Thus, enter the grandparents. Grandparents are stepping in to raise the grandkids because it breaks their hearts to see them raised by strangers so, more and more of the previous generation are stepping up to do what they should not have to do – raise kids again. Well into their 60s, baby boomers appear to be taking on the burdens of child rearing because our generation cannot get it together – unlike our parents’ generations, we are not willing to make sacrifices- we want the fancy car, the house we cannot afford, and the clothes and shoes that we should not be wearing. Our parents did not go out on dates as often and sacrificed for us and they continued to do so today.

It was an interesting article and put perspective on our present situation. I am a professional and so is my hubbie and neither of us wants to or desires to give up our job to stay home and raise kids. Neither one of us can give up our lifestyle and so it seems, our children are being raised by my parents and with that comes some compromising on our part too – living with grandma at our house, listening to her advice day-in and day out and of course, the fine art of diplomacy and compromise. I do not like it but the level of care that family provides is always better than what strangers and third parties can so, we try to mend the cultural and generational gap and work with our parents. My mom, who was a housewife, does not mind – she wants to feel needed and has no hobbies of her own so once again finds herself wanting to raise a family – mine. It is quite the conundrum and this article from WSJ really sheds light on the entire situation: http://blogs.wsj.com/juggle/2009/06/24/grandmas-too-indulgent-grandpas-too-strict-child-rearing-disputes-with-grandparents/

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