Being older has many virtues. One big plus is not worrying any more about what I want to be when I “grow up”. That ship has sailed.
However, one of the minuses of being a Senior Citizen is wishing that I had known some of the things (that I know now) back there in the past.
As we age, we get wiser. We finally get it. But, sadly, when we try to share what we have learned with those who would benefit greatly, they don’t want to hear it..
I try to think back and wonder if I was that way. Did I regard the advice of the much older generation as “old fashioned” or “prudish”? Did I think I didn’t need help with difficult decisions nor need the advice of the older, more experienced women and men in my life?
Yes. Sometimes I did think that I knew it all.
However, I look back and realize that in many cases, I didn’t even know the “questions” that I needed to ask! But now, my peers and I know those “questions” AND the answers!
Raising kids is probably the area of the most consternation.
The same mistakes are not made in each generation. Nope. The “newbies” make NEW mistakes, and they are most commonly in direct opposition to how they were raised. It’s not deliberate. Their ways of doing things seems to be economically, and socially driven.
It’s the “modern” way.
Kids 30 years ago didn’t have the best of the best. Our kids still laugh about the old clunkers that they called “their” cars. The High School parking lot was full of “kid” cars; patched up, chipped, dented cars and trucks. Today, it’s nothing but the best! Most kids then knew they had to EARN the privilege to own a nicer car through age and experience. In addition, shopping trips to the malls was a “seldom” event. High priced jeans were a Christmas gift.
We didn’t have all the answers for sure. But here are some changes that I would make today if I could do it over.
1. Instead of tangible rewards, we would spend more time together. I would pare down the clubs, and evening meetings, and all the other peripheral things that kept us parents from having communication opportunities; consciously avoiding being so busy that there would be no time to grow and learn with our kids.
Thankfully, our generation didn’t regard our kids as “good friends”. That’s the plus-point. But, even at that, we certainly could have done better. Remember that God has commissioned us to be parents; not “friends”. And, being a mother and/or a father requires us to know the difference.
2. I wouldn’t let guilt get in the way of leading well. Our job is not to make ourselves feel good by giving kids what makes them or us feel better. I would realize that the best thing we can give is OURSELVES; our time, our ear, our advice. Planned time for communication would be essential . Sitting at a ballgame watching a son or daughter does NOT count as “giving time”. Sorry. Giving time in order to lead well is “one on one” time. If sports and other activities are robbing us of that “one on one” time, then something has to go.
3. I wouldn’t rescue too quickly. Actually, I recognize that my generation did NOT rescue enough. I wish I had spoken up and defended my children more. I didn’t want to embarrass or call special attention to our children. However, this generation of parents rescues way too often. And, because of that, today’s generation of young people has not developed some of the life skills kids did thirty years ago, because the adults swoop in and take care of the problems for them. We rob them from the need to navigate through hardships.
Our kids today don’t know how to fail; then to recover and succeed out of that failure.
I would communicate more; talking frankly about uncomfortable subjects even though they rejected and turned their back. I would keep it up.
We older parents are rich sources for the younger crowd. The best advice I can give is that we should NOT keep our mouths shut. This seems to be a prevailing attitude. Be kind, be gentle, be loving, be wise. But share that wisdom.
We needed advice back then. Now we have learned.. And we will give it away if asked. Please ask.
“A Woman’s View” is Judi Tabler’s reflection of her experiences and events. She is a wife, mother, writer, teacher, grandmother, and even a great grandmother.