The Generation Gap
I had a conversation with my mother-in-law the other day. Her daughter, my wonderful sister-in-law, was worried about her baby for health reasons. My mother-in-law had offered a solution, but my sister-in-law had “poo-poo’d” it and said she needed to hear it from the doctor. The doctor ended up giving her exactly the same advice as her mother. My mother-in-law seemed sad as she told me,
“You girls don’t listen. I mean, sometimes, but you just google everything. When I had my kids we didn’t have any of that. I called my mom or my sister. You guys just . . . I don’t know. It’s just different now.”
Instead of seeking the advice of the women who have proved themselves capable and trustworthy, we seek out strangers on the internet to tell us the best way to raise our kids. Our technology has expanded so much in our lifetimes and I think that since we can get information in a heartbeat, we don’t think to ask mom. Plus, to be honest, I think we have maintained some of that teenage mindset that older people are out of touch, out of step, and out of date. Feeding picky eaters? I read three articles about that last week, I already know what to do. My baby won’t sleep? There are two new products I can order from Amazon at 2 am when I’m desperate for sleep that promise to help the baby sleep. Why wake up mom?
We have shunned the wisdom of the women that came before us and it is hurting us and it is hurting them. Instead of cultivating relationships, both groups have stuck to their own like-minded friends feeling that the other generation doesn’t want us, doesn’t respect us, and doesn’t need us. We have lost our village, our community. I’ve seen it in mom groups everywhere.
“It’s your baby. Your mom had her chance to raise kids, now she has to do it your way.”
“Either they do it my way or I won’t let them watch my kids anymore.”
“Ugh, I know my mom used that on me, but she doesn’t know how BAD that is for kids.”
“I tried to tell my mom that was fine in the 80s, but we don’t do it like that anymore. We know better now.”
We know better now.
Didn’t we learn in our 20s that mom is actually right about most things?
Now, I want to be clear; I’m not talking about safety concerns. I mean, my husband’s grandma thought I could hold the baby during a two hour car ride. I’m not talking about real danger to your child and things that have changed for the safety of children, but just the everyday stuff of living and parenting.
In this world where we have shut the door to our neighbors, emptied our parks, and left our churches – aren’t you lonely? Don’t you want the companionship that comes from having a community of women, across generations that understand what you are going through? I know it’s nice to share the journey with others – that’s why we seek out mom friends (well, I guess some people do that) online and in real life. It’s also nice to have someone that has been right where you are and has come out on the other side and can remind you that it’s going to be ok.
A Wider Community of Women
And it’s not just our mothers, but the women in our community, in our workplaces, in our churches, in our neighborhoods. They do not offer their wisdom because we have not asked for it and they think we don’t want it. Generation after generation in cultures across the globe, it has been the responsibility and role of the older women to teach and encourage the younger women. Yet, we think we know better.
Are we willing to let our moms and grandmas back into our lives – not as an accessory to our lives, but as a resource and source of wisdom and experience. Are we willing to listen instead of dismissing their advice as old-fashioned and wrong? Are we willing to allow them to share what only time, distance, and hindsight can give? Are we willing to hear both their insight and their regrets?
Are we willing to hear their stories and seek their wisdom while we can? Life is short. I become more and more aware of how little time we have every year. In just a few years we will no longer be dealing with picky eaters, sleepless babies, or eye rolling teens. They will have their own children and we the perspective that comes with time and experience. Will they listen to what we have to say, or will they know better?