Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Revenge of the Baby Boomer Parents

Baby boomers do not like getting old, it cramps our styles. Prosperous baby boomers seek challenges, take good care of themselves, and like adventures. Some are finding their children are offering new opportunities to visit cool places. Your kid goes to study in South Africa, so you go too. Ditto many other places on the planet.
My visit to Israel has evoked many memories of my being a student abroad here in 1972. I was part of a program of 47 students and unless my memory fails me, I don't remember parents coming around to visit. My parents did, but as part of a tour. They would never have had the moxy or confidence to visit on their own. On my daughter's program, virtually every kid had a parent visit, some more than once!
Visiting your young adult student/child is actually a nice balance of parenting and following. The fact that the child knows his/her way around a place where the parents are completely unfamiliar and out of control shifts the power, even though the parents are still the ATM. And parents love seeing the kids confident and able in a foreign environment. The kids love a little pampering - it is exhausting living and studying abroad.
Another thing that baby boomer parents are doing is going on adventures and sharing experiences with their kids. On the bikeride my husband just finished - hooray, it went well! - there were at least half a dozen baby boomer parents participating with teenaged or young adult kids. This is not a bikeride for the faint of heart - they went 300 miles on desert terrain. How cool that they can share the physical challenge, as well as using their privilege (it is expensive to gear up, train, and travel for this ride) for philanthropy. I can truly not imagine, in my wildest dreams, any of the moms and dads in knew in the 1960's doing anything this edgy. They didn't have the time, the money, or the exposure to any of these possibilities. My mother would have considered a 300 mile bikeride in the desert in the same category as a trip to Mars.
The word is generally that baby boomers and their kids are much closer than the youthful baby boomers were to their Greatest Generation parents. Sounds right to me.
Let's hear about some of your experiences visiting your kids, or having your parents visit. Or shared adventures.

1 comment:

mds said...

I don't completely agree that the baby boomer parents are any closer to their kids than the greatest generation parents are, or were, to their kids. You are right in that the GreatGen parents didn't have the time or the exposure to do anything like a 300 mile bike ride with their kids or even go on a tour of a foreign country. The money thing may be relative as it seems like it took a lot less money to raise a family than it does now, but the dollar went a lot further then. When our parents were the same age as our kids are now, many were serving in the armed forces during World War II and others were supporting the war effort in some meaningful way. There was no plane travel as we now know it and many of them did not venture much further than the outskirts of the places where they lived. Their exposure was much different than baby boomers such as you or me have had. Even a summer spent on a ranch in the West would have seemed like Mars to some of our parents that lived in the East.I think that it is much healthier and more nurturing to be the kind of parents that baby boomers have become. The GreatGen parents loved their kids just as much but were not into nurturing. They had never been nurtured by their parents, many of them first generation Americans just off the boat from the old country. They didn't know how.

As a member of the group of 43 students that did the Israel program with you in 1972 I only remember about three parents coming to Israel and they did come in tours as you remember them doing. In one case I got a rare chance to eat at a restaurant. For most of the six months of that program I had forgotten they existed. A meal out was a rare treat. At least we have that in common with our parents. We both like to eat out.