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fairfarmhand

Excellent article on the development of family dynamics and its impacts on society

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https://apple.news/AkNTtUN8rQYawQzEEe1Qmmw
 

From the article

“Our culture is oddly stuck. We want stability and rootedness, but also mobility, dynamic capitalism, and the liberty to adopt the lifestyle we choose. We want close families, but not the legal, cultural, and sociological constraints that made them possible. We’ve seen the wreckage left behind by the collapse of the detached nuclear family. We’ve seen the rise of opioid addiction, of suicide, of depression, of inequality—all products, in part, of a family structure that is too fragile, and a society that is too detached, disconnected, and distrustful. And yet we can’t quite return to a more collective world. The words the historians Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg wrote in 1988 are even truer today: “Many Americans are groping for a new paradigm of American family life, but in the meantime a profound sense of confusion and ambivalence reigns.”

 

anyone want to discuss this? I found it very interesting.

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It seems like they’re conflating the social trends with the familial structure but there are more societies than just this one, and our own past, where those things were balanced in more harmony.  Seems like a bit of a fallacy, honestly.

The movement of people economically, as much as the destabilizing of familial ties via divorce and religious drift, seems to explain most of the phenomena we see these days, I agree with him there.  The remedies, however, are where I’d quibble.

oh. Just saw it was David Brooks.  Well there you go, then😆 🤭

Edited by Arctic Mama

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He made a really good point about the churn factor in unmarried partnerships - we have seen that among family members and it’s far more difficult for the kids than *just* divorce or single parenthood, from what I have seen.  That’s been hell to watch and not be able to fix. The issues with elder care and isolation are also on point and ones we have a particular eye toward with our own family.  

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Hmm, got through the end.  The forged family concept has some flaws but out of necessity I think it works better than nothing at all.  Almost everyone needs a tribe and place of belonging, micro sharing and support in some measure.  When that forms organically I think it works great, I have that going on, myself, living in a place with no family now but with a very large and active support system (BECAUSE I KNOW THE NAMES AND LIVES OF My CHURCH FAMILY 🤣 couldn’t resist).

The issue of people living alone SHOULD be a concern, but more because of the weak social fabric it represents than because we need to round up and ‘fix’ people who may have desired to live alone.  I’m totally comfortable with more propping up of friend/roomie situations and Golden Girls style retirement, though, and we have had family members choose that for themselves (both women lived into their nineties and the other declined when her best friend and SIL passed away, both had been living without their husbands for two decades and done very well with one another for help, plus extended family like us checking in).

That may be one area where German or NZ style ‘flatting’ could help solve the issue for younger adults living alone, but it would need to be based on a little more than needing shared accommodations to really help fulfill the community needs. That is an element I think we are stuck and where Brooks rightly points out adult mentorships and ‘adopted grandparents’ can go a long way. 

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I have been reading (or attempting too, as we are in the process of trying to buy a house and plan a move so it's a very sporadic attempt!) The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap by Stephanie Coontz.  The 1950's especially has always been held up to be the ideal form for the nuclear family, but as she says in her article here (https://newrepublic.com/article/132001/way-never), "I found that the male breadwinner family of the 1950s was a very recent, short-lived invention and that during its heyday, rates of poverty, child abuse, marital unhappiness, and domestic violence were actually higher than in the more diverse 1990s."  She says that immediately after the advent of no fault divorce the female suicide rate declined by 8 percent.  

The book traces the history of American families over the years and examines the economic and cultural trends that influenced the prevailing ideals of "family life" for their time.  It's pretty fascinating.  One of the parallels she traces between the Gilded Age of the 1870's and the second "Gilded Age" beginning in the 1980's was that the Industrialization of the 1870's and the emerging globalism and more aggressive and individualistic capitalism both created huge shows of conspicuous consumption.  Therefore the backlash against this was by setting up the nuclear family as the repository of virtue and morals to counteract this dissolution of public morality.   

There is a whole lot more to unpack in the book but now we are on the phone with the mortgage loan officer!

 

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I think that the most accurate part of the quote below is "in part." There are so many factors involved, that one could argue pretty much anything "in part" has contributed to opioid addiction, suicide and depression, even things we would consider hugely beneficial, such as affordable medicine and health care. 

We’ve seen the rise of opioid addiction, of suicide, of depression, of inequality—all products, in part, of a family structure 

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He's writing the story of a particular culture; it's not my culture, we aren't seeing opiods, suicide, depression. In my culture the inequality is taken care of by the youngers helping the olders and the olders funding the schooling/skilling of the youngers.  My grandparents had electric and running water brought to their rural homestead via the efforts of the children, and they also paid the property taxes that came in with the New Deal so the parents would't be forced off the homestead.  The Jungle  was a stunner for my dc; totally not our culture for dad to abandon mom and children; and of course the needs vs wants dilemmas.  

The discussion of less  over 65s living with family makes no sense; none of my relatives needed that kind of care at that age. Of the elders I know, only the 90 year olds have family living in or have moved to a child's home; and that is only the ones who have medical needs.  The ones in good health are still living independently at far less cost that subsidized senior housing.  I see that stat as showing that individuals are less stressed at an older age and that the heart disease and cancer care has improved.

Edited by HeighHo
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A lot of good points. But this:

Quote

We’ve left behind the nuclear-family paradigm of 1955. For most people it’s not coming back. Americans are hungering to live in extended and forged families, in ways that are new and ancient at the same time.

 

Doesn't it follow from his own run down of the breakdown of the American family that these people are "hungering" to replace their broken and otherwise uncomfortable family-of-origin situations with anything approaching stability? 

What I mean is, wouldn't all these people have preferred to just have a good family from the beginning? I would. 

While people need what they need and find it where they find it and that's fine as far as it goes, what I have seen recently has been a lot of self-centered people saying that their friends are their "real family" while they're jerks to the max to their actual real family. Also, there's some stuff in the air lately where adult people are telling teenagers that what they REALLY need is a "tribe," by which they mean friends they select themselves, who support fully their every whim. Unsat.

So part of my opinion is that while a lot of this stuff is true, it doesn't necessarily mean it's right

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I don't know this, which is why I'm asking,

wouldn't people have been recently buying homes with room for aging parents simply because we've had a recent influx of elderly?

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11 minutes ago, OKBud said:

I don't know this, which is why I'm asking,

wouldn't people have been recently buying homes with room for aging parents simply because we've had a recent influx of elderly?

Most of the situations that I am aware of, the aging parent doesn't come to be a "helper" to the family. The aging parent comes after they are no longer able to be independent and end up there by default. 

I do believe that some of the writer's assumptions are a stretch. 

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I think it's broader than family.

There's been a breakdown in traditional forms of community, and the space that leaves hasn't neccessarily been filled with new forms of community meeting the human needs that never went away.

Obviously, this is going to vary widely by region, by dominant or family cultural norms, and by luck of the draw.

But I know where I am, church going is way, way down, volunteer work is down, especially amongst the non-retired, civic organisation membership is down, trade union membership is down, membership of political parties down. And all families are affected, not just non-traditional families. 

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1 hour ago, fairfarmhand said:

Most of the situations that I am aware of, the aging parent doesn't come to be a "helper" to the family. The aging parent comes after they are no longer able to be independent and end up there by default. 

I do believe that some of the writer's assumptions are a stretch. 

Same for me, but part of what he was saying was that some people are trying to get back to more communal living arrangements by buying homes that accommodate inter-generational living. My assumption, without knowing the numbers (so: worthless), would be that it's just more old folks being around, more than more people per capital rejecting modern lonliness.

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6 hours ago, HeighHo said:

Of the elders I know, only the 90 year olds have family living in or have moved to a child's home; and that is only the ones who have medical needs.

That's not the norm. Most people start needing help a decade or two before that.

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On 2/11/2020 at 1:17 AM, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

That's not the norm. Most people start needing help a decade or two before that.

This seems to be a combination of luck and lifestyle. In the village where I live, where gardening is a common hobby, no one is obese and most people have dogs that they walk, living independently into extreme old age is very common.

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In other words, while social conservatives have a philosophy of family life they can’t operationalize, because it no longer is relevant, progressives have no philosophy of family life at all, because they don’t want to seem judgmental. The sexual revolution has come and gone, and it’s left us with no governing norms of family life, no guiding values, no articulated ideals.

I've been thinking about family, personal behaviour, duty, etc. a lot recently.  I'm a long way to the left of most US voters.  I'm struggling (the following will be full of holes, so don't expect coherence) to formulate my feelings:  the strong have a duty look after the weak, unless that caring causes the strong to be ill, not merely unhappy.  That duty is more important than pursuit of happiness.

Who are the weak?  All children who are attached to you as a parent.  All adults to whom you have made a commitment (by blood or choice) and who are ill or unable to look after themselves.  What does 'looking after' mean?  Not necessarily personal care, but loving care.  What if the weak person is horrible?  Arms-length care is fine if the relationship is untenable.

Real life examples where I am quite happy to judge:

- a parent who walks out on their marriage and children in order to pursue another love.  The marriage was stale but not a threat to either parent or to the children (who were unaware of any difficulties).  Financial support was given.  In this case, I would hope that the parent would stay around until the children were adult. 

- a parent who walks out on their marriage when the other parent has just gone into remission after cancer.  The departing parent went to live with a younger partner and have a child, leaving the teenaged children of the first marriage to deal with the recurrence of cancer and death of the ill parent.  Financial support was given.

 

Edited by Laura Corin
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1 hour ago, Laura Corin said:

not merely unhappy.

 

Expecting circumstances to converge to make any given individual HAPPY at any given time is a disease of both the young and old in my circles right now.  This outlook is *completely dependent* on making moves in their life that makes other, innocent, people deeply unhappy. And in cases involving children, often unsafe and unstable as well. boo, hiss

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33 minutes ago, OKBud said:

 

Expecting circumstances to converge to make any given individual HAPPY at any given time is a disease of both the young and old in my circles right now.  This outlook is *completely dependent* on making moves in their life that makes other, innocent, people deeply unhappy. And in cases involving children, often unsafe and unstable as well. boo, hiss

I kinda know what LC is going for though. There are those who do not care for the weaker because it is inconvenient to them. And that inconvenience leads (for many) to unhappiness. 

I do believe though that many people simply live most of their adult lives with no financial or physical (as far as time, energy and space) margin. If an elder or someone else becomes ill, its not just a matter of switching around a few things in ones schedule. Often because there is little margin to their lives, it is a complete and total overhaul of their work, after work, and family commitments. Some of that is by choice (packing ones schedule with work, after work commitments, and allowing their children to fill their time in similar ways) some of it is not by choice at all. Single parents (as pointed out in the article) generally have no choice. Someone has to do laundry, clean house, and do the grocery shopping for a family at the end of a long work day.

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7 hours ago, Laura Corin said:

This seems to be a combination of luck and lifestyle. In the village where I live, where gardening is a common hobby, no one is obese and most people have dogs that they walk, living independently into extreme old age is very common.

In the US, we have high obesity rates, higher in some regions than others due to entrenched lifestyles and mindsets. Not every subculture is prone to believing in taking an active role in their health maintenance. Their idea of health maintenance is going to the doctor for meds or surgery when they're sick or injured. I have in-laws like this. Neither of them is willing to make lifestyle changes.  My parents are very active and will follow lifestyle recommendations, but even my very active mother (75) has been out of her usual routine since she wore out one hip, had it replaced, and now the other is worn out and needs replacing.  Her recovery time is so much longer at her age and she isn't bouncing back fully to resume her previous levels of activities.

The US also has a wider range of extreme weather than Great Britain. Gardening and being outdoors isn't as easy to do for people in some places many months of the year. If you live somewhere with snow on the ground for 6+ months (I have relatives in Maine) or 100+ degrees for 7+ months along with a water issues (I have relatives in AZ,)  it's a very different situation.  Milder climates are just easier to be active outdoors and are better for gardening year round or close to it. 

And don't forget that most Americans work at the office or at home long hours. My husband typically puts in 10-12 hour days as a programmer. Most professionals we know are putting in 10 hour days and are often still doing work related tasks at home after hours.  And there's commute time. My husband works from home but everyone in my city commutes into neighboring Raleigh which is typically at least hour to an hour and a half each way for most of them because they have to drive rush hour. The ER nurse only commutes for 40 minutes each way because he drives odd hours.

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I live in the NE. Boomers here typically have double pensions and two homes.  They do not help the children by babysitting or anything else. They call wanting help when their health fails -- but the help desired is in the form of aging in place, wanting the children and taxpayers to provide services and goods for free along with the hefty property tax exemption on the McMansion on three acres.  Until then, they are out recreating.  My Boomer bridge partners this week are in the Caribbean snorkeling, Florida or NC relaxing/bingo/etc at the second home, or on vacation trips to overseas destinations or state parks in warm weather areas.  When they were children, the women in their parents gen or higher who weren't working outside the home babysat  them while their parents worked, as they did each day off from school.  The boomers did not continue the tradition.  Mr. Brooks has ducked the issue of the 'me generation' and Boomer choices to pull up the ladder on the grandchildren while stiffing them with the bill for the aging.

The dilemma I have with my 'me gen' elder is that the nursing home won't take her.  They take people who can't, not people who won't.  So I must spend energy or I'm fleeced as she busts the door down with her hand out. I'm gardening and don't have exemptions on my quarter acre of property (just like most people my gen, we are too young); like the typical Boomer in this area she has two homes including a mcmansion on three acres (i.e. half a million in housing, only pays 50% property taxes so cheaper to stay in the home and let if fall apart than go in senior subsidized housing) and gets a free tank of heating oil annually from the state because her income makes her 'poverty' (took the pension as cash lump sum before she was a senior, so only has SS as income).  Its no wonder family dynamics are what they are.

Edited by HeighHo
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39 minutes ago, fairfarmhand said:

I kinda know what LC is going for though. There are those who do not care for the weaker because it is inconvenient to them. And that inconvenience leads (for many) to unhappiness. 

I do believe though that many people simply live most of their adult lives with no financial or physical (as far as time, energy and space) margin. If an elder or someone else becomes ill, its not just a matter of switching around a few things in ones schedule. Often because there is little margin to their lives, it is a complete and total overhaul of their work, after work, and family commitments. Some of that is by choice (packing ones schedule with work, after work commitments, and allowing their children to fill their time in similar ways) some of it is not by choice at all. Single parents (as pointed out in the article) generally have no choice. Someone has to do laundry, clean house, and do the grocery shopping for a family at the end of a long work day.

I think I wasn't clear. I meant to emphatically agree with Laura! 

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6 minutes ago, HeighHo said:

I live in the NE. Boomers here typically have double pensions and two homes.  They do not help the children by babysitting or anything else. They call wanting help when their health fails -- but the help desired is in the form of aging in place, wanting the children and taxpayers to provide services and goods for free along with the hefty property tax exemption on the McMansion on three acres.  Until then, they are out recreating.  My Boomer bridge partners this week are in the Caribbean snorkeling, Florida or NC relaxing/bingo/etc at the second home, or on vacation trips to overseas destinations or state parks in warm weather areas.  When they were children, the women in their parents gen who weren't working outside the home babysat  them while their parents worked, as they did each day off from school.  They did not continue the tradition.  Mr. Brooks has ducked the issue of the 'me generation' and Boomer choices to pull up the ladder on the grandchildren while stiffing them with the bill for the aging.

The dilemma I have with my 'me gen' elder is that the nursing home won't take her.  They take people who can't, not people who won't.  So I must spend energy or I'm fleeced as she busts the door down with her hand out. I'm gardening and don't have exemptions on my quarter acre of property like most people my gen; like the typical Boomer in this area she has two homes including a mcmansion on three acres (i.e. half a million in housing) and gets a free tank of heating oil from the state because her income makes her 'poverty'.  Its no wonder family dynamics are what they are.

I agree that the perpetually adolescent mindset of a huge percentage of Boomers is making  many of these problems worse: choosing to have fewer children to maintain a certain lifestyle and not considering the long term increased tax burden on fewer workers, abandoning their spouses and children for the people they were having affairs with, living beyond their means most of their lives and expecting the taxpayers to cover their losses with decades of Medicare and Social Security, insisting on aging in place even when it's not a reasonable option, pressuring daughters into careers instead of being genuinely OK with each woman choosing for herself working vs. being at home, fighting low cost housing which contributes to skyrocketing housing costs and homelessness, and so on. 

It really is frustrating to see people with children not going to the doctor because even with insurance their healthcare costs are insane, yet healthy, functioning seniors insist on retiring at 65 for a couple of decades so they can travel between their two homes, buy their boat,  and take yet another cruise or trip abroad for their quarter century retirement.  If you suggest to them that it's time to raise the retirement age to better reflect the realities of health and vitality these days, they wail and rage that "they paid for it" and are entitled to it.  Never mind that the cost of the many surgeries and treatments, and facility fees they've had cost more than they ever paid into it. Never mind that Social Security was never meant to be decades of payments to individuals who have private retirement funds.  No, it must be business as usual and no one can adjust anything until the last Boomer dies.

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I believe it’s true that we aren’t allowed to make meaningful adjustments to government policies and programs until the Boomers mostly die out.

It’s frustrating to watch. Especially knowing that we will have spent our entire adult lives using everything trying to provide ourselves and our children decent healthcare and education, and will not have a financial safety net to fall back on when we are old. 

That generation dug us into a very deep hole. 

Edited by SamanthaCarter
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2 hours ago, SamanthaCarter said:

That generation dug us into a very deep hole. 

They did.

My relative worked two whole careers, over twenty years each (edit: my point here was that he's not a "taker" he's been an extremely productive member of society!). Yet he refuses to countenance the ideas that the policies AND SOCIETAL NORMS (like wife at home) put into place during his generation's height A--helped him in any way or  B-- need to be revisited. I do not understand the disconnect there. 

The key policies didn't do anything good for them but also they should be enshrined in the constitution or something???

I don't want to bash baby boomers here, obviously they are not a monolith. And there's a big difference between the wealthy ones and the poor ones (I have both in my family, plus middle of the road) as always. But there's definitely SOMETHING going on in the mindset of extant boomer voters that eludes me. 

Edited by OKBud
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5 hours ago, Laura Corin said:

I've been thinking about family, personal behaviour, duty, etc. a lot recently.  I'm a long way to the left of most US voters.  I'm struggling (the following will be full of holes, so don't expect coherence) to formulate my feelings:  the strong have a duty look after the weak, unless that caring causes the strong to be ill, not merely unhappy.  That duty is more important than pursuit of happiness.

Who are the weak?  All children who are attached to you as a parent.  All adults to whom you have made a commitment (by blood or choice) and who are ill or unable to look after themselves.  What does 'looking after' mean?  Not necessarily personal care, but loving care.  What if the weak person is horrible?  Arms-length care is fine if the relationship is untenable.

Not as simple as it sounds.

How many years in advance should the adult children forgo happiness in order to eventually be able to care for their elderly when that becomes necessary? Should adults not move away to pursue job opportunities, so that they can remain available when the time comes? Does the duty to one's children outweigh the duty to one's parents or vice versa? What sacrifice and what degree of unhappiness is acceptable? (Btw, it is not easy to clearly distinguish where "merely unhappy" ends and depression begins)

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3 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

In the US, we have high obesity rates, higher in some regions than others due to entrenched lifestyles and mindsets. Not every subculture is prone to believing in taking an active role in their health maintenance. Their idea of health maintenance is going to the doctor for meds or surgery when they're sick or injured. I have in-laws like this. Neither of them is willing to make lifestyle changes.  My parents are very active and will follow lifestyle recommendations, but even my very active mother (75) has been out of her usual routine since she wore out one hip, had it replaced, and now the other is worn out and needs replacing.  Her recovery time is so much longer at her age and she isn't bouncing back fully to resume her previous levels of activities.

The US also has a wider range of extreme weather than Great Britain. Gardening and being outdoors isn't as easy to do for people in some places many months of the year. If you live somewhere with snow on the ground for 6+ months (I have relatives in Maine) or 100+ degrees for 7+ months along with a water issues (I have relatives in AZ,)  it's a very different situation.  Milder climates are just easier to be active outdoors and are better for gardening year round or close to it. 

And don't forget that most Americans work at the office or at home long hours. My husband typically puts in 10-12 hour days as a programmer. Most professionals we know are putting in 10 hour days and are often still doing work related tasks at home after hours.  And there's commute time. My husband works from home but everyone in my city commutes into neighboring Raleigh which is typically at least hour to an hour and a half each way for most of them because they have to drive rush hour. The ER nurse only commutes for 40 minutes each way because he drives odd hours.

I think that the mindset is part of the luck - coming from a family culture of trying to stay healthy and knowing how to do it, or discovering the possibility for themselves. There are plenty of Brits who don't take responsibility for their health. And there are those who work long hours but take the stairs to the furthest toilet at work, or dance at home at weekends when it's dark outside for much of the day. I'm continually impressed by @wintermom battling through the snow in Canada to get outside and stay healthy.

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2 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Not as simple as it sounds.

How many years in advance should the adult children forgo happiness in order to eventually be able to care for their elderly when that becomes necessary? Should adults not move away to pursue job opportunities, so that they can remain available when the time comes? Does the duty to one's children outweigh the duty to one's parents or vice versa? What sacrifice and what degree of unhappiness is acceptable? (Btw, it is not easy to clearly distinguish where "merely unhappy" ends and depression begins)

It's absolutely not easy. And I did say that caring could include arm's length: making sure that an elderly parent has some support, if they will allow it, doesn't mean necessarily providing daily support yourself.

And depression is an illness. Caring for my mother caused me to be depressed. I changed things so that now it merely makes me unhappy.

I don't dare make a rule for balancing child care and elderly care. I have favoured one and the other at different times.

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37 minutes ago, regentrude said:

How many years in advance should the adult children forgo happiness in order to eventually be able to care for their elderly when that becomes necessary? Should adults not move away to pursue job opportunities, so that they can remain available when the time comes? Does the duty to one's children outweigh the duty to one's parents or vice versa? What sacrifice and what degree of unhappiness is acceptable? (Btw, it is not easy to clearly distinguish where "merely unhappy" ends and depression begins)

It drives me nuts dealing with elders who cannot separate themselves from their own preferences to look at reality.  Each generation should be thinking about the effects their actions and inaction have on their parents and their children. Everyone needs to be less rigid about what their elder years are going to look like and embrace a wider range of possibilities. People go where the work and cost of living best match their prospects, and dependents should cooperate with that. 

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55 minutes ago, Laura Corin said:

I think that the mindset is part of the luck - coming from a family culture of trying to stay healthy and knowing how to do it, or discovering the possibility for themselves. There are plenty of Brits who don't take responsibility for their health. And there are those who work long hours but take the stairs to the furthest toilet at work, or dance at home at weekends when it's dark outside for much of the day. I'm continually impressed by @wintermom battling through the snow in Canada to get outside and stay healthy.

There's too much love for what is quick, easy, convenient, and effortless here in the US.

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1 hour ago, regentrude said:

 

How many years in advance should the adult children forgo happiness in order to eventually be able to care for their elderly when that becomes necessary? Should adults not move away to pursue job opportunities, so that they can remain available when the time comes? Does the duty to one's children outweigh the duty to one's parents or vice versa? What sacrifice and what degree of unhappiness is acceptable? (Btw, it is not easy to clearly distinguish where "merely unhappy" ends and depression begins)

 

Children do not have the social safety nets available that elders do.  When I was a high schooler, my job every nonschool day was to deliver PBJs to my neighbor's two primary school aged children, as the mommy was too busy with her individual pursuit of happiness via chemicals to provide for her children (the dog was fed, the children were not), so my mother took on that mission. The other dozen or so neighbors turned a blind eye, as the family was not their religion.  The grandparents on the other hand, had the social safety programs that provided meals to the incapable as well as nursing homes if no family member could help them.  That has changed slightly; in my area there is a summer feeding station at one of the public schools for children up to age 18 who can transport themselves the three to twenty miles on country roads with no sidewalks to obtain a free breakfast and a lunch; the seniors (age 60+ ) on the other hand have a free bus that picks them up at their home  and takes them to the senior center for lunch if they are able to physically get on and off the bus (with just the driver's assistance and the wheelchair lift), if not the meal is delivered by unpaid volunteers. Obviously the vote is that duty to elders trumps duty to children, and we all know the demographic on those voters.

happiness is irrelevant.  there are wants and there are needs.  I will never make an elder happy, because happiness does not come from robbing younger extended family members and neighbors of the ability to provide for their own needs and using that money or the time resources for elder personal wants.  Greed is not something that can be satisified. 

Edited by HeighHo

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2 hours ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

There's too much love for what is quick, easy, convenient, and effortless here in the US.

I think you would recognise that in many people in the UK too.

Edited by Laura Corin

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5 hours ago, HeighHo said:

 

Children do not have the social safety nets available that elders do.  When I was a high schooler, my job every nonschool day was to deliver PBJs to my neighbor's two primary school aged children, as the mommy was too busy with her individual pursuit of happiness via chemicals to provide for her children (the dog was fed, the children were not), so my mother took on that mission. The other dozen or so neighbors turned a blind eye, as the family was not their religion.  The grandparents on the other hand, had the social safety programs that provided meals to the incapable as well as nursing homes if no family member could help them.  That has changed slightly; in my area there is a summer feeding station at one of the public schools for children up to age 18 who can transport themselves the three to twenty miles on country roads with no sidewalks to obtain a free breakfast and a lunch; the seniors (age 60+ ) on the other hand have a free bus that picks them up at their home  and takes them to the senior center for lunch if they are able to physically get on and off the bus (with just the driver's assistance and the wheelchair lift), if not the meal is delivered by unpaid volunteers. Obviously the vote is that duty to elders trumps duty to children, and we all know the demographic on those voters.

happiness is irrelevant.  there are wants and there are needs.  I will never make an elder happy, because happiness does not come from robbing younger extended family members and neighbors of the ability to provide for their own needs and using that money or the time resources for elder personal wants.  Greed is not something that can be satisified. 

Me thinks you just live in an area of rich jerks. In my poor rural part of NY, there are “feeding stations” ( we call them summer meals) for all kids at multiple places- the schools, the city park, the library and community center. That’s paid for by the state, maybe federal, too, I’m not sure. The local senior lunches are all non-profit, voluntary, but they pay $4 for the meal, visually and health wise identical to a school lunch. There is a free bus that’s available to needy seniors or any one with any disability, it’s part of another non profit group in the county that serves all ages. This area is overwhelmingly old and unhealthy, lol, yet they still vote with the younger in mind on necessary things.

 

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9 hours ago, HeighHo said:

I live in the NE. Boomers here typically have double pensions and two homes.  They do not help the children by babysitting or anything else. They call wanting help when their health fails -- but the help desired is in the form of aging in place, wanting the children and taxpayers to provide services and goods for free along with the hefty property tax exemption on the McMansion on three acres.  Until then, they are out recreating.  My Boomer bridge partners this week are in the Caribbean snorkeling, Florida or NC relaxing/bingo/etc at the second home, or on vacation trips to overseas destinations or state parks in warm weather areas.  When they were children, the women in their parents gen or higher who weren't working outside the home babysat  them while their parents worked, as they did each day off from school.  The boomers did not continue the tradition.  Mr. Brooks has ducked the issue of the 'me generation' and Boomer choices to pull up the ladder on the grandchildren while stiffing them with the bill for the aging.

The dilemma I have with my 'me gen' elder is that the nursing home won't take her.  They take people who can't, not people who won't.  So I must spend energy or I'm fleeced as she busts the door down with her hand out. I'm gardening and don't have exemptions on my quarter acre of property (just like most people my gen, we are too young); like the typical Boomer in this area she has two homes including a mcmansion on three acres (i.e. half a million in housing, only pays 50% property taxes so cheaper to stay in the home and let if fall apart than go in senior subsidized housing) and gets a free tank of heating oil annually from the state because her income makes her 'poverty' (took the pension as cash lump sum before she was a senior, so only has SS as income).  Its no wonder family dynamics are what they are.

Well, I think your neighbors are lying. I’ve made the trip numerous times to the social service office to sign up dh’s relatives for help. I know how much HEAP they can get for electricity vs oil vs coal or pellets. It’s between $350 and $700 a year, which truly doesn’t last for the 5 or 6 months of freezing g temps. A family of 2 can’t make more than around $3,000 month, they must give amounts of ALL of their finances- pensions, SS, income from stocks, 401, IRA, CD, money market, and all interest. Your moocher neighbors must be hiding big time. And the SS office does look, lol. I’m not sure what the limit is that a person can have in the bank, but in order to qualify for the state to help make Medicare payments, for example, they can’t make more than $24,000. And for help with Medicare part D, you can’t have more than $28,000 in any bank account; I saw that on a poster of the office of aging a few weeks ago when we signed up for Medicare. So I honestly doubt those neighbors are living that grandly and legally getting aid for winter fuel!

DH retired at 59. We own one home. He worked for over 40 years and I’ll defend anyone who chooses to retire when they can and live within their means. We live on a Texas pension, yet still pay NY state taxes on it every year, gladly. He’ll be eligible for full SS benefits next year. 

The problem is not just Boomers, it’s those of a certain income who write the laws that allow them to not pay their fair share. It’s wealth, not age, that’s causing this. It’s admins that think nothing of robbing $$ from SS and not repaying. Channel your anger towards the political leaders and corporations who all work together to line their own pockets and try to convince you that the baddies are really just others in your community.

 

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On 2/12/2020 at 10:35 AM, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

I agree that the perpetually adolescent mindset of a huge percentage of Boomers is making  many of these problems worse: choosing to have fewer children to maintain a certain lifestyle and not considering the long term increased tax burden on fewer workers, abandoning their spouses and children for the people they were having affairs with, living beyond their means most of their lives and expecting the taxpayers to cover their losses with decades of Medicare and Social Security, insisting on aging in place even when it's not a reasonable option, pressuring daughters into careers instead of being genuinely OK with each woman choosing for herself working vs. being at home, fighting low cost housing which contributes to skyrocketing housing costs and homelessness, and so on. 

It really is frustrating to see people with children not going to the doctor because even with insurance their healthcare costs are insane, yet healthy, functioning seniors insist on retiring at 65 for a couple of decades so they can travel between their two homes, buy their boat,  and take yet another cruise or trip abroad for their quarter century retirement.  If you suggest to them that it's time to raise the retirement age to better reflect the realities of health and vitality these days, they wail and rage that "they paid for it" and are entitled to it.  Never mind that the cost of the many surgeries and treatments, and facility fees they've had cost more than they ever paid into it. Never mind that Social Security was never meant to be decades of payments to individuals who have private retirement funds.  No, it must be business as usual and no one can adjust anything until the last Boomer dies.

 

Not everyone has a “choice” about the number of children they have.

Not every Boomer has made a “choice” about retirement - many are forced into it because of ageism. 

Someone  else mentioned (I’m not smart enough to do multi-quote) Boomers not stepping up to help with the care of grandchildren. My ds has chosen to live on the opposite coast.  To be fair, we moved from where his childhood home was in flyover country, but he was never planning to return there anyway, and we are on now on the opposite coast.  He has no SO, so I have to assume I am a long way from grandchildren, but if he makes the choice to stay where he is, I cannot afford to relocate and live in California just to help care for grandchildren.  

Yep, I’m a Boomer, so I might be a tad defensive.  My point is that it isn’t always the Boomers who are making the “choices.” 

Edited by Hoggirl
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41 minutes ago, Hoggirl said:

Someone  else mentioned (I’m not smart enough to do multi-quote) Boomers not stepping up to help with the care of grandchildren.

Yep. When I was raising my young children, my parents worked full time. They were not available for babysitting.

Later, we moved to another continent for work.

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There are good and bad things about big extended family groups. 

I grew up with grandparents who believed in this, and it was wonderful for me.  But it was unfamiliar to most of my friends, and I tended to have my best friends be people who were from foreign countries because to natives it was inconceivable that any family plans would trump personal plans once you were high school age or above.  And my mother, who strongly enforced the ‘everyone has to be there’ stuff, completely abandoned it once both of her parents were gone—no hosting, and spotty attendance.  This was a shock to me, and very hard on my DD, who unfortunately is an only child.  

I don’t think it can be replicated in a family of choice, although some of the more fun aspects of it certainly can be.  I can’t imagine a family of choice stepping up to do serious custodial care of elderly frail folks, for instance.  And families of choice are usually similar in age, while it is a key aspect of the traditional extended family to have multiple age groups in place.

Having said that, I act as a back stop to my siblings, and my nieces and nephews know that I do and we are close.  I borrowed the money for my sister and BIL to buy their first house, and loaned it to them so they could do this.    I’ve offered to take in one or two of their kids to help them launch, and while they have not needed that, I think knowIng that I have their backs is helpful.   And I do act that way toward church friends of varying ages, including my parents’ generation and my DD’s generation.  

The bad things about big family groups include passing on really serious disfunction like substance abuse, or at least normalizing it.  Ditto domestic violence.  Also, it’s sometimes tough on introverts, and it can be hard to establish new romantic relationships in the family fishbowl.  Interestingly enough, modern literature and lots of school books starting in the 60s always mocks it in favor of going off to school or to better yourself or to seek your fortune.  Family is taken for granted, generally, and portrayed as what holds you back.  It was not always so.  It is both interesting and instructive to read “Little Women” and compare that with something written 100 years later.  Society has thus taught us to oppose extended family ties, pretty consistently, for a long time.  

 

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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1 hour ago, regentrude said:

Yep. When I was raising my young children, my parents worked full time. They were not available for babysitting.

Later, we moved to another continent for work.

 

My parents were both dead before my children arrived.

One point is that its selfish of 'family' to not care for someone in their time of need, but demand care for themselves from those same people in their own personal time of need.

My point is that the boomers are making policy decisions.  There are other successful solutions, ones that don't mean the grandparent or the parent drops out of the workplace and derails the career. Those solutions should be entertained, especially if the parent is also on the hook for eldercare.  The sandwich gen, with a baby and an elder who lingers for decades, is in need of help, not sneering "i got mine, too bad for you". 

 

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2 hours ago, HeighHo said:

 

 

My point is that the boomers are making policy decisions.  There are other successful solutions, ones that don't mean the grandparent or the parent drops out of the workplace and derails the career. Those solutions should be entertained, especially if the parent is also on the hook for eldercare.  The sandwich gen, with a baby and an elder who lingers for decades, is in need of help, not sneering "i got mine, too bad for you". 

 

 

I'm trying to say this as kindly as I can (yes, I'm a Boomer).

You do realize none of us here, unless we've held elective office, has ever made any policy? You do realize that many of us over the years have supported candidates and lobbied our representatives to support legislation aimed at better supporting families? You do realize that sometimes, because of gerrymandering and other issues, that how one votes and what legislation one supports doesn't seem to matter? You do realize that being "sandwiched" isn't anything new? Not by a long shot. I'm a Boomer, and I've been "sandwiched." My parents and DH's parents were "sandwiched." And yes, it often lasted for many years, sometimes well over a decade. None of us liked it. It's definitely not a pleasant life stage. I don't know a single person who actually thinks anything close to "I got mine, too bad for you." What I don't recall is a sense of entitlement among people my age, and certainly not among those in my parents'/inlaws' generation, that there should be/was supposed to be any help outside of family and very close friends. It was just what families did for each other. And yes -- everybody understood that it was dang hard. I hope that something can be done to make it easier. Or in other words--pretty much the polar opposite of "I got mine, too bad for you." People my age tend to think "Yeah, what we've had to do has been too hard. We hope our kids don't have to do what we did."

Echoing what @Hoggirl said, I don't understand where the notion comes from that the Boomers had everything handed to them, or had some sort of extraordinary choices and options that younger people haven't had, or somehow had a miraculously easy road through life. I just don't. But heck--I only lived it  I guess y'all young 'uns know more about it than we do. [Yeah, sarcasm. I feel like I should go ahead and apologize for it. But this type of generalizing about/stereotyping of Boomers has been expressed here before. It gets tedious, and it smacks of a level of ignorance and lack of critical thinking that I don't expect from this board.]

Edited by Pawz4me
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2 hours ago, HeighHo said:

 

My parents were both dead before my children arrived.

One point is that its selfish of 'family' to not care for someone in their time of need, but demand care for themselves from those same people in their own personal time of need.

 

So were mine.

I don’t know anyone who does this. 

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36 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

 

I'm trying to say this as kindly as I can (yes, I'm a Boomer).

You do realize none of us here, unless we've held elective office, has ever made any policy? You do realize that many of us over the years have supported candidates and lobbied our representatives to support legislation aimed at better supporting families? You do realize that sometimes, because of gerrymandering and other issues, that how one votes and what legislation one supports doesn't seem to matter? You do realize that being "sandwiched" isn't anything new? Not by a long shot. I'm a Boomer, and I've been "sandwiched." My parents and DH's parents were "sandwiched." And yes, it often lasted for many years, sometimes well over a decade. None of us liked it. It's definitely not a pleasant life stage. I don't know a single person who actually thinks anything close to "I got mine, too bad for you." What I don't recall is a sense of entitlement among people my age, and certainly not among those in my parents'/inlaws' generation, that there should be/was supposed to be any help outside of family and very close friends. It was just what families did for each other. And yes -- everybody understood that it was dang hard. I hope that something can be done to make it easier. Or in other words--pretty much the polar opposite of "I got mine, too bad for you." People my age tend to think "Yeah, what we've had to do has been too hard. We hope our kids don't have to do what we did."

Echoing what @Hoggirl said, I don't understand where the notion comes from that the Boomers had everything handed to them, or had some sort of extraordinary choices and options that younger people haven't had, or somehow had a miraculously easy road through life. I just don't. But heck--I only lived it  I guess y'all young 'uns know more about it than we do. [Yeah, sarcasm. I feel like I should go ahead and apologize for it. But this type of generalizing about/stereotyping of Boomers has been expressed here before. It gets tedious, and it smacks of a level of ignorance and lack of critical thinking that I don't expect from this board.]

 

Feel free to express a level of knowledge and critical thinking that responds to the article.  I'm just listing what I see around me, ymmv.  If you all have nothing to say other than bash me, well, so be it. Keep your gaze away from the needy.  Enjoy your prosperity.

Edited by HeighHo

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28 minutes ago, Pawz4me said:

 

I'm trying to say this as kindly as I can (yes, I'm a Boomer).

You do realize none of us here, unless we've held elective office, has ever made any policy? You do realize that many of us over the years have supported candidates and lobbied our representatives to support legislation aimed at better supporting families? You do realize that sometimes, because of gerrymandering and other issues, that how one votes and what legislation one supports doesn't seem to matter? You do realize that being "sandwiched" isn't anything new? Not by a long shot. I'm a Boomer, and I've been "sandwiched." My parents and DH's parents were "sandwiched." And yes, it often lasted for many years, sometimes well over a decade. None of us liked it. It's definitely not a pleasant life stage. I don't know a single person who actually thinks anything close to "I got mine, too bad for you." What I don't recall is a sense of entitlement among people my age, and certainly not among those in my parents'/inlaws' generation, that there should be/was supposed to be any help outside of family and very close friends. It was just what families did for each other. And yes -- everybody understood that it was dang hard. I hope that something can be done to make it easier. Or in other words--pretty much the polar opposite of "I got mine, too bad for you." People my age tend to think "Yeah, what we've had to do has been too hard. We hope our kids don't have to do what we did."

Echoing what @Hoggirl said, I don't understand where the notion comes from that the Boomers had everything handed to them, or had some sort of extraordinary choices and options that younger people haven't had, or somehow had a miraculously easy road through life. I just don't. But heck--I only lived it  I guess y'all young 'uns know more about it than we do. [Yeah, sarcasm. I feel like I should go ahead and apologize for it. But this type of generalizing about/stereotyping of Boomers has been expressed here before. It gets tedious, and it smacks of a level of ignorance and lack of critical thinking that I don't expect from this board.]

 

I'm not a Boomer, I have major trigger issues around my own Boomer parents and their comfortable life for reasons, but I agree with this 100%.

Very over the manufactured generational warfare.

Like any other generations, most Boomers were just trying to get by. Like any other generation, some Boomers were at the forefront of protest and progressivism. Like any other generation, a few Boomers were part of social, cultural and financial elites. Like any other generation, some Boomers were in political office. Like any other generation, some Boomers in office made good decisions for their country, and some made poor decisions for their country.

Western Boomers as a cohort did have some generational luck around employment, financial stability etc.  I'm Gen X, I graduated into a recession, my male peers are more likely than any other generation where I live to commit suicide - is that the fault of individual Boomers ? Nope. 

I see this discourse around generational division as a deliberate tactic to discourage intergenerational solidarity based on life experiences we do share with others.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Hoggirl said:

 

Not everyone has a “choice” about the number of children they have.

But most do.  I'm speaking generally, not to your specific case.  Most Boomers chose 2 kids.

Not every Boomer has made a “choice” about retirement - many are forced into it because of ageism. 

The vast majority of Boomers plan(ned) to retire at 65 if they can. There is an expectation that they shouldn't have to retire later, regardless of the cold hard numbers, and they routinely refuse to vote against raising the age of retirement, again, in spite of the math.

Someone  else mentioned (I’m not smart enough to do multi-quote) Boomers not stepping up to help with the care of grandchildren. My ds has chosen to live on the opposite coast.  To be fair, we moved from where his childhood home was in flyover country, but he was never planning to return there anyway, and we are on now on the opposite coast.  He has no SO, so I have to assume I am a long way from grandchildren, but if he makes the choice to stay where he is, I cannot afford to relocate and live in California just to help care for grandchildren.  

No one was talking a situation where the grandparents living far away are refusing to help.  They were clearly referring to local grandparents refusing to help because anything else would be the rantings of a lunatic.  There was no lunacy on that topic in this discussion.

The other clearly stated issue was grandparents who are not able to care for themselves refusing to move near their adult children who can help care for them. They rigidly insist on aging in place when it's not realistic.


Yep, I’m a Boomer, so I might be a tad defensive.  My point is that it isn’t always the Boomers who are making the “choices.” 

No one said it was all Boomers.  But you have to admit it isn't Gen X and Gen Y in positions of political power. It's overwhelmingly Baby Boomers and Silent Gen, and we've known about the impending social welfare/ entitlement crisis for quite a while now, yet the retirement age hasn't been raised to match reality and no other alternative approaches are being pursued. So when one group overwhelmingly has power and isn't addressing the issue, then they deserve to be called out on it.  Why haven't they made changes? Why aren't they actively exploring options?  Because the Boomer vote overwhelmingly doesn't support making any changes now.  That will affect everyone else younger than them, and we aren't obligated to be silent doormats while we pay taxes into systems we won't be getting any benefit from while we pay so much more healthcare and education at the same time and have to take time off of work to support elderly parents. This is a very. big. deal. with serious consequences; continuing to ignore it or minimize it isn't good enough. 

 

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On 2/12/2020 at 7:28 AM, Laura Corin said:

In other words, while social conservatives have a philosophy of family life they can’t operationalize, because it no longer is relevant, progressives have no philosophy of family life at all, because they don’t want to seem judgmental. The sexual revolution has come and gone, and it’s left us with no governing norms of family life, no guiding values, no articulated ideals.

I've been thinking about family, personal behaviour, duty, etc. a lot recently.  I'm a long way to the left of most US voters.  I'm struggling (the following will be full of holes, so don't expect coherence) to formulate my feelings:  the strong have a duty look after the weak, unless that caring causes the strong to be ill, not merely unhappy.  That duty is more important than pursuit of happiness.

Who are the weak?  All children who are attached to you as a parent.  All adults to whom you have made a commitment (by blood or choice) and who are ill or unable to look after themselves.  What does 'looking after' mean?  Not necessarily personal care, but loving care.  What if the weak person is horrible?  Arms-length care is fine if the relationship is untenable.

Real life examples where I am quite happy to judge:

- a parent who walks out on their marriage and children in order to pursue another love.  The marriage was stale but not a threat to either parent or to the children (who were unaware of any difficulties).  Financial support was given.  In this case, I would hope that the parent would stay around until the children were adult. 

- a parent who walks out on their marriage when the other parent has just gone into remission after cancer.  The departing parent went to live with a younger partner and have a child, leaving the teenaged children of the first marriage to deal with the recurrence of cancer and death of the ill parent.  Financial support was given.

 

To the bolded:  I agree with you completely here.  This isn't far to the left, really; it describes conservatives quite well.  COnservatives beleive in taking care of their family and friends.

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12 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

you have to admit it isn't Gen X and Gen Y in positions of political power. It's overwhelmingly Baby Boomers and Silent Gen, and we've known about the impending social welfare/ entitlement crisis for quite a while now, yet the retirement age hasn't been raised to match reality and no other alternative approaches are being pursued. So when one group overwhelmingly has power and isn't addressing the issue, then they deserve to be called out on it.  Why haven't they made changes? Why aren't they actively exploring options?  Because the Boomer vote overwhelmingly doesn't support making any changes now.  That will affect everyone else younger than them, and we aren't obligated to be silent doormats while we pay taxes into systems we won't be getting any benefit from while we pay so much more healthcare and education at the same time and have to take time off of work to support elderly parents. This is a very. big. deal. with serious consequences; continuing to ignore it or minimize it isn't good enough. 

 

Yes.

I emphatically agree with Stella that the "OK, Boomer" fad atm is actively deleterious for everyone. But I think it started out with a kernel of truth tucked inside of it, and instead of facing that little truth, we've made it a cultural meme whose time will come and go like all cultural memes, and we'll be left with the exact same problems as when we started, but with more age-based divisiveness on top.

The US House is over 60% baby boomers at the moment.  I had to look this up after talking to the relative I mentioned earlier....because we had been talking about how ~~no one I know~~ approves of Congress as a whole, but the same people keep getting elected. I couldn't wrap my head around it. Well... now I know it's because my close friends and I don't vote like the typical baby boomer votes. I'm sorry but that's just the way it is.  

We are talking here about trends and how they effect people's conception of what it means to be family (so obviously individual experience will vary)...what's required, what's optional. **obviously** that is going to be hugely effected by what the larger social picture looks like. The above point (I think also from Stella, but don't quote me there) about larger social safety nets collapsing is the capital-t Truth...and in the US that's heavily influenced by  the baby boomer voting block! Democrat and Republican both!

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