My 35th birthday came and went without a hitch this week, and although I don’t really feel any older, I’m apparently “thinking older”.
I had a phone conversation with my mother this week. I was ranting about the current state of affairs — how parents are raising irresponsible kids, how too many Americans are irresponsible with their money, how we live in a society of entitlement and instant gratification — and I realized that I was sounding old. When you start uttering phrases like “kids these days”, “when I was a kid”, and “twenty years ago”, you really do start to date yourself. You also start to realize that your parents probably weren’t the crackpots you thought they were back when you were a teenager.
During our conversation though, I mentioned something that really bothers me about society today. See, my parents are baby-boomers. Mom’s parents remember the Great Depression, and Dad’s mom knew what it was like to do much with nothing; she raised 3 kids by herself with no support from my dad’s father. My grandparents were folks who all understand the value of a dollar, they understood the value of a strong work ethic, and they taught my parents how to thrive in adversity.
Now, I don’t know about the rest of the Generation X crowd, but I don’t have any living grandparents now. My husband has ONE living grandparent. This means that we can’t learn the life lessons that help make this country great from the folks who knew what it was like to live hard and thrive. We have to rely on our parents for that connection.
Now, my husband and I, we’re lucky. Both my parents and his parents were raised with the kind of wholesome values on which this country was built — liberty, self-reliance, integrity, and honor. Our parents taught us that if we looked someone in the eye, shook their hand, and gave them our word, it was our bond. They taught us that to get what we want in life, it’s there for the taking, but we have to work for it. They taught us that any job that needs doing is a job worth having.
We’ve tried to raise our children with these same sorts of principles, but it’s really, really hard. There are a lot of folks who parent much differently because either their parents hadn’t learned the lessons from days gone by to pass onto their children, or they’re just too wrapped up in today’s fast-paced, instant-gratification, buy-now-and-pay-later society. It’s hard to avoid the temptation to compete with all that.
Often, I joke with my friends, “Darn my old-fashioned, Catholic view of the world.” I’m grateful that my parents raised me well, but as I try to imagine what life must have been like 70 years ago, I can’t help but long for that easier time. Yeah, things were hard, and yeah, I wouldn’t be writing this blog, but family, God, and country were important.
God bless my parents. God bless America. But God, help us, because we need it more than ever “these days”.