What a difference a few generations make

Posted at: 06/09/2014 3:03 PM
By: Benita Zahn

It's summertime and that means we have new interns. They appear to be an engaged, bright group of college students. I've met two of the three who'll be with us and they're both female. I mention this because I'm impressed with how they dress. Impressed because I remember my  days as an intern. I owned one skirt and one dress and since my internship was once a week I would alternate and hope no one realized how limited my wardrobe was.

I don't mention this to be frivolous but rather as a sign of changing times.

Parents are much more involved in their children's lives, nowadays. My mom had no idea what I had or didn't have to wear to my internship. It wasn't even on her radar to ask. I didn't have a car to get from Oswego to Syracuse to the TV station for my 8 hour stint every Monday night and there was no mass transportation that would get me there and back. So I borrowed a friend's car - had to learn how to drive a stick -- good lesson. But again, mom or dad never asked.

Now, don't get me wrong, my folks were good parents - I wasn't abandoned -- but it was a different time. I was supposed to figure it out on my own. And I did. It helped me become more resilient... to the point that when my mom died 5 years after I graduated from college my dad asked "How did you all get so independent?" .. since my 2 brothers returned to their lives after mom's funeral. I looked at him as if he had grown another head .. "Dad" I said to him evenly, "You always told us that God helps those who help themselves and it's not like you guys held our hands once we went to college."

He paused and changed the subject.

So the point of this; times change. Yes, I became resilient. But was it good that my folks and the parents of most of my friends were so hands off? Depends on who you ask and at what point in our lives you ask(ed) that question. But 'kids' nowadays -- when parents make sure they have the right clothes and the wheels to get to and from that internship or job -- are they being helped or hindered in developing their resiliency? 

Could be that time will tell.

What do you think?   

And the corollary to this is - how'd my generation learn to parent so differently?