Lisa writes: The generation gap that separated me from my parents was defined by our views on music, sex, skirt lengths, the Vietnam War and Richard Nixon’s presidency. My whole goal in shopping was to buy things my parents hated. But my children and I like the same music, have similar politics and shop for clothes in the same stores. The issues that separate me from my offspring are of an entirely different nature.
Where has the generation gap gone? Once defined by cultural touchstones and political splits, the gap that divides the generations is now far more subtle, defined by differences in outlook and attitude, rather than fundamental beliefs.
My sons think nothing of leaving the house and venturing out in public in their PJ bottoms. This has been a recurring nightmare of mine since 1971.
I use cash. They use credit for any purchase over 24 cents.
Mary Dell writes: At the end of every month, I tear off another page of our oversize family calendar and toss the tattered sheet away. April lands in the recycling bin and I am gleeful. There, on the last line for May, is the gateway to summer: Memorial Day Weekend.
At Grown and Flown, our friend and neighbor, Renee Cohen, is chef/instructor of CuisineArts Cooking School and supplied much of the culinary inspiration for this Memorial Day cookout.
1. Lemonade with fresh mint
Mix together the juice of 10 lemons, 6 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, 3 sprigs mint. Adjust to taste and add 8 sprigs of mint. Refrigerate and serve in tall glasses with a sprig of mint in each.
2. Watermelon margaritas
This recipe is from the late, great Gourmet magazine: Cut up a watermelon into cubes, place in Ziplock bag and freeze overnight. Place the frozen watermelon (5 cups), 1 cup Tequila, 1/2 cup Triple Sec, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice, and 1/4 cup sugar in a blender and blend until the consistency is slushy. Serve in margarita glasses.
I have just about finished raising my kids. My youngest has one foot out the door and only senior year in high school stands in the way of his liberation. I know exactly how he feels. During my senior year, I put a huge wall calendar on my bedroom wall and crossed off each day with a black X.
As if that were not enough, I counted backwards from the day I would leave home so that every morning I could stare at the number of days until my release. As a parent I have often thought that my parents must have felt terrible seeing these markings on my calendar, just one step away from a prisoner scratching a tally into the side of her cell wall.
Except that I don’t think my parents felt bad. Yes, they were sorry to see me go, as they would be when my brothers followed, but their life was not about me. Their identity was not about me. And their universe certainly did not revolve around me. In this I think my family was like many others in the 1970s and 1980s.
Yet despite our generation’s belief that “we turned out just fine,” we decided to bring up our children entirely differently than we were brought up. In fact, we only trot out the phrase, “we turned out just fine” when something about our parenting has gone wrong.
Lisa writes: Last Fall, in the wake of a number of high-profile cheating scandals, Grown and Flown examined cheating in school. We were surprised by some of the facts we uncovered. Technology, academic pressure and changing attitudes have increased the incidence of cheating in school and made it even more important that parents discuss this issue with kids from an early age. It was our good fortune that The Wall Street Journal found us and included us in an article this morning entitled “How Could a Sweet Third-Grader Just Cheat on That School Exam?”
In this wonderful piece, Sue Shellenbarger finds that cheating is tricky parental terrain “The line between right and wrong in the classroom is often hazy for young children, and shaping the moral compass of children whose brains are still developing can be one of the trickiest jobs a parent faces.” Shellenbarger found that rates of cheating rose as kids moved into middle school and high school and thus the conversation needs to start when school begins, as early as kindergarten.
Lisa writes: This morning, The New York Times posted a wonderful article, “After the Children have Grown,” about motherhood and the transition to the empty nest. The author, noted psychologist Madeline Levine, confirms what Anna Quindlen has often said, that the real empty nest begins the day our youngest child graduates from college. Yet Levine takes a different look at our children’s separation as not a single moment but rather one more step on a long path of pain and happiness that is parenting. She explains,
Motherhood inextricably weaves growth and loss together from the moment of physical separation at birth to every milestone passed.
Yet she finds that, in some ways, parents are unprepared for this transition despite the fact that we should have seen it coming.
Gabby, a Grown and Flown friend, writes: One of the good things about being a parent three times over is that I am more focused on life’s ordinary moments as my last child inches her way toward leaving the nest. Recently, I was packing to go away for a rare “girls weekend” when my daughter sat down on the edge of my bed and asked me about the friends with whom I was traveling. Ultimately, our conversation shifted into a philosophical one about her own friends and the importance of friendship.
I will readily admit my many failures as a mother but one of the things I am most proud of is the way I have communicated through action (and words) how much my friends mean to me.
I am inordinately grateful and comforted when I look at my two older children who have already “flown the nest” and see the kinds of friendships they have established. They demonstrate to me that they understand how to be loyal, inclusive, trustworthy, forgiving, and supportive in times of trouble. They accept and celebrate differences. I am wowed by the way that they have chosen their inner circle (with an extended selection of friends beyond this) based on “matters of the heart” and common values.