Gen X – The Guilt Generation?

ImageIt seems that every generation gets a label these days. Kids in the early 20s now are called “Gen Y’ers” and they are the social media age. Apparently, they don’t have the same sense of entitlement that we Gen X’ers supposedly have, though I’m really not sure where that “entitlement” label came from. Gen Y’ers are also supposed to be more driven, crave positive feedback and generally don’t feel the need to slave 50 hours a week at a meaningless job (bully for them!). Interestingly, they also seem less familial-inclined, which is a stark departure from my generation.

But even though my world revolves around my family, I struggle with the line between parent and play-buddy. On the one hand, I look back on my own childhood–one where I was generally an only child and if there was playing to be done, it was usually done alone. My parents just weren’t involved.  On the other hand, I don’t want the same for my own children, so I DO try to do things with them frequently and when you add in Career-Mom’s near-constant need to get out of the house and do something, it seems like we’re always on the go.

I struggle with this balance. For example today…we played outside with the kids for about an hour, then we took them down to the science museum. When we got home, they wanted me to ride bikes with them. Really? After everything we JUST did…?

So back to my quandry…I want to be with my kids and I don’t want them to look back on THEIR childhood–like I do mine–and feel like all their dad ever did was work around the house, but at the same time, I HAD my childhood already. Can I just enjoy my adulthood a bit? And can’t that mean that I don’t have to play with my kids and when I don’t, can I do it without guilt?

I’ll let you know how that works out. So far, I’m riddled with guilt.

2 thoughts on “Gen X – The Guilt Generation?

  1. Interesting subject. I’ve been looking for a job with no success at all, my college degree is relatively worthless. One of the things I’ve decided I could do without needing anyone to hire me is write an e-book. My first topic is going to be something on the subject of guilt-free parenting although I realize to some extent it’s an oxymoron. I hit this point at around 50 where my perspective suddenly widened and so many of my beliefs changed.

    Long story short, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You’re giving your all. Sometimes it sounds like there’s nothing left for Chris. I did it that way with my oldest son who is now 26, but for different reasons. It was SUCH a mistake. I say that and immediately think “There are no mistakes.” I’m so annoying even to myself lol.

    In your specific example here, you’d already done more with your kids in one day than so many children get out of their fathers in a week. Of course they want you to keep playing with them, you’re Daddy, you’re so great, their superhero. But you have to re-charge to be the best that you can be. Otherwise, you start feeling over-burdened, unappreciated, exhausted. The guilt only makes it worse and is so completely worthless, it does nothing positive for anyone.

    I think when we come from families where a parent is . . . lackluster at best . . . it leaves us in the position of idealizing what a “good” parent would be. I believed a mom should be completely co-dependent, jumping to accommodate the needs of her children, standing instead of sitting at the dinner table. I chose two women as my role models, two women who I could never be like in a million years. Then I beat myself over the head with their images. I think you’re setting similar unrealistic expectations for yourself.

    My lightbulb moment was when my son moved away. Like, really? I moved to NJ to meet his needs and he doesn’t even live here any more. He can go a really long time without initiating any communication with me. I’ve come to be okay with that, but it makes me re-think the fact that I always put him first. I love him dearly, but I should have loved myself, too. Neither of my children really appreciate the fact that I’ve always been there because I’ve always been there lol. I mean, I suck at a lot of stuff but when I compare myself to other women . . . and I do constantly . . . I’d want to be my own kid 8 out of 10 times.

    Has anyone ever really put Chris first? From my reading of this blog I don’t think so. By the way, this is the only blog I always read and always comment on. I keep trying to figure out why. It’s something about how you ask for so little from others but expect so much from yourself.

    Rather than feeling guilty, it would be great if you could occasionally be the one who puts Chris first. I know you couldn’t handle doing it too much, maybe just a couple hours a week. Then refuse to feel guilty about it. You’re just as important as everyone else.

    1. dobeman

      Have I mentioned how badly I’ve ignored this blog for a while? Hmmm, my apologies. You’ve posted some really nice comments Pam and I’m sorry I haven’t responded. I HAVE read them…just didn’t respond.
      But, to your point, I think I am starting to put myself first sometimes. It’s summer now (no school I mean) and I find that I can justify NOT spending every waking moment with the kids knowing that they’ve had an action packed week and frankly, don’t need to be entertained non-stop on the weekend.

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