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A Game Plan???

A recent  mothering 21 post on “Emerging Retirees???”  attracted some noteworthy feedback.  In a  blog, When Is Adulthood,  twentysomething LiLo commented:   

I also think it’s relevant that you humorously place blame for the delay of life of the millennial generation on the boomers and the parents of those children. It really does bring up the discussion of helicopter parents and the difference in generations and how it affects our transition into adulthood. 

She echoes a point shared by many that “emerging adults” are shaped by both parental exhortations (you can be anything) and expectations (nothing less than an Ivy League degree will be good enough for my darling).  When life issues a reality check to our twentysomethings, we parents still hover to help them find an alternate universe. 

LiLo also offers an intriguing take on m21’s perspective: 

 “Your other entries also present a unique view on the subject of emerging adulthood because you’re on the other side…It’s almost like I’m seeing the game plan of the opposing team.” 

The opposing team?  We never thought of it that way, but LiLo suggests some insight into how our adult children really feel about our ongoing attempts to micromanage them.  

So far as a  game plan, we’re not sure that baby boomer parents possess one.  More like improvising one play at a time! 

Another blog also cited  “Emerging Retirees???” for pointing out that many young people trying to enter the job market are stymied because baby boomers are not retiring. Indeed,  a recent think tank report found that the number of young people employed has dropped considerably.  Author Barbara E. Ray writes:  

The report attributes these declines to a plunge in both job openings and people quitting their job. And this: Very few older workers have left their jobs and are instead working longer and retiring later. This means fewer opportunities to get one’s foot in the door for young workers. 

On a different note,  Ms. Ray writes an evocative post  this week about how October brings memories of harvest season.  She recounts her father’s tales of  his grueling days as a boy toiling on his parents’  Iowa farm.  And she recalls her own small-town childhood and the October ”bean season”  harvest, critical to her father’s grain business. 

I can’t help but marvel at how life moves–from a 160-acre farmstead in central Iowa to a small-town homecoming and a cycle dictated by beans and corn, to my life today amid the hubbub of 3 million people doing their own form of toil. 

This generational  progression reflects what many  baby boomer parents are trying accomplish, with or without a helicopter.  This is indeed our “game plan,” if we have one:  Ms. Ray writes:

 In many respects, this is the American Dream, that we do better than our parents, and that our parents can live long enough to see us grow up, successful in our own right, following a path they helped shape. 

However,  in The Nest Never Empties,  Canadian National Post columnist Robert Fulford  reminds us that sometimes  that “path” veers off in directions we didn’t expect. 

Parents are likely to be disappointed if they believe that each generation will function much like the one before (only better, ideally). The complicated fact is that family structures change constantly and always have. They shift unpredictably, affected by everything from new technology and economic failures to widespread divorce and falling birth rates. 

 Then what?   So how do unexpected—and sometimes permanent—detours impact our expectations?  Mr. Fulford suggests, 

 If we could accept the truth that civilization never stops changing, we might be less rattled when things fail to work out exactly as we’d hoped. 

So back to the drawing board and a new game plan!  

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