Over the weekend I attended a barbecue with my boyfriend for my nephew’s 11th birthday. Everyone seemed to have a good time and everyone got along great as lots of different family members were there. While my boyfriend and I were swimming, we happened to look up and we noticed that only little kids and teens were in the pool — no parents were even near the pool at all. The pool was surrounded by a gate and when we started searching for the parents we found them all on the patio conversing in the shade, not really paying any attention to their children at all. Somehow, we ended up babysitting about 15 of those children.
When we went inside for cake later, we witnessed my sister-in-law ask my 7-year-old niece to change my 2-year-old nephew’s diaper, while my brother and sister-in-law could have easily done it themselves. We also later witnessed one of their friends passing child care off to what looked like to be their 60-something-year-old grandmother.
My boyfriend and I are only in our early 20’s, but are we missing something here? Shouldn’t parents be taking care of their own children and not passing the buck off to their other children or the elderly? Is this a generation thing?
— Where did all of the parents go?
Dear Where did all of the parents go,
Each generation can definitely teach life lessons to the next, however, I don’t recall there ever being a memo from the baby boomers to our generation that parenting is now cliché.
Since you mentioned that you and your boyfriend are in your early 20’s, I’m going to guess that your parents were born in the ’60s, which means your grandparents were probably born somewhere around the ’30s or ’40s.
Now, take a moment to think about your grandparents for a second and how they raised their family. Now, remember how you were raised as a child from your parents and ask yourself if your mom or dad ever made you change your brother’s or sister’s diapers? In most cases, the answer is probably “no.” Unfortunately, in the generation of new parents nowadays, the answer is more often “yes.”
With all the technology advancement there has been, rise of living expenses, prices of housing, transportation, life’s everyday demands — you name it — times are a lot more fast-paced and demanding now than they ever were in the ’20s, ’50s, and even ’90s. A mom is not just a mom anymore. She is a taxi driver, coach, chef, business executive, a counselor, a homemaker, teacher, a student herself possibly, as well as a wife.
A dad is not just a dad anymore. He is a disciplinarian, vice president of a Fortune 500 company, working on his doctorate’s degree, referee, and a comedian, as well as a husband.
Kids nowadays are not even just kids anymore. Nowadays, a kid is a sports team player, club president, entrepreneur, a student, church leader, and one that deals with life’s everyday struggles in similar and different ways like an adult does. Life is too fast-paced for this generation to properly balance everything.
It would be nice if we could all go back to the 1920s style of living — the mom on average was just the mom, wife, and homemaker; the dad on average was just the dad, the sole provider, and the husband; the kid was just a kid trying to get good grades in school. Today, however, there are more pressures that each individual in a family has to overcome so now every household is set up differently than the next.
On the other hand, despite all of today’s pressures, each role played in a family household is very unique and special. A kid is only a kid for a certain amount of time, so why force a child into changing diapers early when they will eventually have to do it later on in their lives?
Let kids be kids. Mothers will only have a certain amount of time to change their little one’s diapers so it should be seen as a blessing to change your kid’s diapers. Fathers will only have their children crawling all over them for a few select years, so why take all of that for granted?
We should all be so careful as to not get caught up in life’s fast-paced environment to where we are starting to forget what is most important in our lives. We have to also remember that we are all here on borrowed time only, as our time is very limited.
If you find yourself extremely busy to where you have to ask your young daughter to change your infant son’s diapers because YOU are too busy, ask yourself if the reason why you are too busy is worth time lost when it comes to changing your son’s diapers yourself? Is it worth taking time away from your daughter’s childhood?
Chances are, it’s probably not.
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.