Losing Wisdom

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.”

I understood.

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be honest, I think we have maintained some of that teenage mindset that older people are out of touch, out of step, and out of date.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?

29 thoughts on “Losing Wisdom”

  • I love this article so much! It actually is one of the reasons I blog. I am a mom with 25 years of experience AND a doctor. I can provide the rational experience that is needed for young moms to relax and try more traditional management to childrearing. It really is important to learn from women who have done this and not just read a study. Experience is everything!

    • You make a good point that we need to relax some. New moms today are terrified of making mistakes and we try way too hard for perfection, making ourselves crazy in the process.

  • Community is SO important- it not only give older women with the wisdom a defined purpose but also gives us a direction. We need to lean on the people in our face to face communities and let the internet take a back seat! This is a great aritcle!!!

    • Thank you! I will never get over the sadness in my mother-in-law’s voice. I also read a few blogs from women in their 60s expressing similar thoughts. They want to share with their daughters and younger women in their communities, but feel they aren’t wanted.

  • I love this post! I’m currently 33 weeks pregnant and I call my mom all the time. Every time I go to Google it tells me I have a life threatening blood clot or brain cancer. Ha ha. On one hand I feel like every mother has the right to raise her children however she sees fit, and on the other hand, I think mothers make life too difficult for themselves.

    • Lol, Dr. Google is a terrible doctor. I don’t think we have to run to our moms with everything and we certainly develop our own parenting styles, but I think allowing older women to share their wisdom with us benefits everyone.

    • When you actually HAVE that life threatening blood clot, Google (or the blood clot awareness sites) are a lot more helpful than Mom or the other women in your life. I found out that one the hard way. I think it helps to surround yourself with moms who’ve been in similar situations. Knowing some older women who’d raised households full of boys will give you a different perspective than talking to your own mom who raised seen-but-not-heard girls.

  • I agree but I don’t think it’s just generational. I think it’s just the new era of technology. I pride myself in research and studies, but fellow moms who ask my opinion NEVER listen to what I have to say. They often seem to go with what is easiest or what they were wanting to do to begin with. Often I feel they are just looking for validation in what they want to do, and not the actual advice of what they SHOULD do.

  • There’s so much going on here! This is a great article.
    First, I think that there is an element of truth to the fact that in MANY cases, we do know better than previous generations. That’s not to say we can/should disregard the advice of our elders, but in lots of cases, the science and research is simply better.
    But this generation of moms doesn’t just forego the advice of their parents and grandparents, they don’t want to take advice from ANYONE. I find the whole “I’ll only listen to my doctor” philosophy rather odd. Doctors are just like any other human–flawed, biased, and infallible. Many doctors say things that goes against modern research.

    My best practice is to listen to lots of sources and make my own educated choice.

  • Love your mom and appreciate her wisdom while she is living. Some of us have lost ours too young and wish we could ask that “one more thing.”

    Great article! 🙂

  • I try to treat my mom the way I want my children to treat ME when they are grown. After all, they are watching. xoxo

  • No matter how much I want to admit it sometimes, my mother does know things that I don’t, and I often find myself calling her to ask her advice. I hope someday my daughter does the same.

  • This is an amazing article! It is something I wrote a Facebook post on years ago because I noticed the younger generations disregarding the wisdom from elders, in favor of Pinterest ideas. This article expresses what I have had so strongly on my heart. Thank you for writing this!

    • Thank you for your kind words! It really bothered me that we are so willing to listen to strangers over our own mothers, sisters, aunts, and even each other.

  • What a GREAT post! It’s so important to be a part of community and accept wisdom from those who have been there. My mom, sister and I have an on-going chat where we can vent, ask questions, share concerns, etc. and I’ve never felt closer to them (we all live in separate states!). There have been times when I’ve brushed off what my mom suggested but eventually circled around to trying it out and guess what? Yep, she was right 🙂 Thanks for sharing and reminding us to listen to those who have been through it already!

  • I have always struggled with this. I want to know everything myself, figure it out myself, and not have to listen to my parents when they say they know something lol. 9/10 times, it does end up back firing on me and they were right in the first place. Sometimes I wish that the internet was still a thought so that we had to go to our parents rather than Google!

  • Using uour village and supports is so important. I am so lucky to have my parents and in laws so close, physically and emotionally, to us. I worry about who I would call for advice when they’re gone.

  • This is such a good article! WE have lost so much wisdom by ignoring those who have come before us. I am always blessed when I talk with my grandma and she passes on spiritual and life lessons. I find it sad that we tend to push our elders away as the age, because they “don’t understand how we live now” etc. Sharing on my FB page!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.