4/2/12

Gen X? Really?

.I will admit it.  I was born in 1971, smack in the middle of the social phenomena otherwise known as Generation X.  I have never identified with the concept because the media hype doesn't fit me.  I am not a slacker, nor am I or have I ever been detatched or melancholy.  I seemed to miss the "tech savvy" boat.  Instead I get by in the "somewhat technically literate" canoe.  To me Generation X is that band Billy Idol was in during the 70's. "Into the valley of the do-o-olls. . ."

So, when I came upon this article "A Teacher's Guide to Generation X Parents" (link is in More References page) on the Edutopia website, I was a bit surprised, (and maybe slightly embarrassed) to find I am a GenXer after all.  It seems our unique circumstance of being the first generation raised as latchkey and daycare kids by divorced parents has created in us a strong desire to be involved in the lives of our kids in an exponential way.

"Ummm. . . I don't think I am a helicopter parent."  I say as I smirk to myself.  But no getting around it really.  I know, even if I don't really hover physically, that my husband and I think way more about the details of life that affect our kids than our parents did.  As a matter of fact, I have wondered to myself about why the generations before us seemed to get by with so much less thinking about it.  I think about it now, not so much from a critical perspective, but in wonder, as in 'where can I get me some of that?'  How did they do it?  Is the old saying "ignorance is bliss" true?  Being raised during an era where we have been told eating eggs and drinking milk are bad for you, along with other hypervigilant malarkey, I would have to guess it probably is . . .

That is not to say that our parents are or were ignorant.  They just were lucky enough to be spared the mountains of books, articles, and tweets ominously piling up in warning "If you don't do everything just so, your kids are going to turn out completely screwed up and it will be all YOUR fault!"  No wonder so many GenXers have skipped the parenting path for a less cumbersome existence.  Those of us who forged ahead and had kids anyway, well we (speaking for myself) are fierce advocates for our children.

According to the article, Boomers had faith that it would all work out and their kids would turn out fine, and for the most part it did.  We GenXers on the contrary have been shown repeatedly that we can't count on the guy in charge, "When we graduated from High school in the eighties wall street fell.  Wehn we graduated from college, the first Bush recession made jobs impossibly scarce.  when we started having children, the Nasdaq crashed.  When we finally boght our own homes, the housing bubble burst."

I get this.  I do.  We have been shown over and over that leaders don't have all the answers, they don't have big picture interests in mind, and we get to pay for their mistakes and carelessness, historically speaking anyway.  But we do know we can educate ourselves if noone else will, and we can get things done, we are capable knowlegeable and like to help. 

I can see now why my well meaning letters and ideas intended to help school personnell were met with an odd variety of pity, fear, and indignation at best and eye rolls at worst.  The boomer principal and several teachers were probably thinking " Chill out lady" while I am thinking "My child's future is on the line people!"  I guess this is one of those areas where there is room for compromise if I think about it in this light.  Hmm. . .now that I think of it, I wonder if the boomer "it will all work out" mentality isn't a big factor in the slow progress our ed system is making toward preparing our kids for the modern era.  Do they just think it will all work out? 

I am not sure I like having my basic insecurities summed up in a GenX description.  Makes me feel a little common and ordinary.  Huh!  Then again, it is a comfort to know I am not the only parent out here stepping on toes, pushing boundaries, and getting funny looks from school staff.  Just six more years till one of my kids reaches high school.  Hope the teachers over there read the teacher tips article between now and then. 

2 comments:

Theresa said...

I like to blame my "hovering" on the changes in the world. It can't possibly be me who is too controlling right? :) The world just must have been safer and less scary to raise children in for the parents before us.. But I totally agree that I wish sometimes I could just let go and give my kids the freedom I had. Big question for the schools though (assuming they follow the boomer philosophy).. why so much special ed if every thing will work out in the end?? Why not some more focus on differentiated learning for all of the other kids that they haven't labeled? I love this post Amy. I can totally relate. :)

Amy said...

I am all for differentiated learning for all the kids too, it would make sense in my mind to give all kids what they need instead of just the labeled few. But that would require lots of classroom support--more teachers with sped experience sped training-IMO :) Ideal world stuff. I wish I had the answers for how to get all kids what they need within meager means. .Thanks for the feedback :)