Sunday, March 24, 2013

Real to whom? | a small idea from Raising Adults

Real to whom?

Remember The Me Decade? It started as an entertaining, insightful essay on postwar America. The popular press loved it, American preachers jumped on it and, after a few months, The Me Decade became The Me Generation and they meant people like me. They meant Baby Boomers. They said we were self-centered and unreliable. They said we were sex-obsessed, drug-addled and undisciplined. All we cared about, they said, was feeling good. Which made our mothers blink back tears and our fathers shake their heads gravely wondering where they went wrong.

The preachers and the press were partly right about Boomers. And partly wrong. America was, and is, a cultural soup. We stew on a back burner, every generation adding unique flavors to the blend. Generalizations seldom reflect anybody’s reality. Some Boomers went to Vietnam; some to Canada. Most stayed put. Some smoked dope, a few were Jesus Freaks, a lot went to college, most went to work. Boomers did not end civilization—though a few in government took a good crack at it. Boomers blended into the soup; just like everyone.

I expect the generations following mine will do more or less the same. Most of our children are or soon will be competent, capable, productive, fun human beings. Kids have a way of becoming that for the most part. They turn adult on us, whether we raise them that way or not. Still, I can’t help noticing that a sizable number of our offspring are not much interested in what folks like to call the real world. “Real to whom?” they wonder.

— from Raising Adults

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