The crisis of who we really are would be simplified if it were limited to our children. Unfortunately it has spanned three or more generations creating a lot of confusion that seems like a family trait. Where did this begin? We may be able to look as far back as more than 2000 years where the Bible instructed us that a three prong connection in the family unit is not easily broken. Grandma and Grandpa begin this connection.
The increase in confusion we now accept as normal may be traced back to World War II when women entered the workforce out of necessity. The men left to fight the war and women were empowered by the opportunity to become meaningful wage earners. It was almost patriotic to do so. The family unit began to change. Initially, the grandparents assumed the duties of the missing parents; there was not a noticeable difference. Then something else occurred.
The men returned when the war was over; America had moved fully into being an industrialized nation with a well-trained workforce of both genders. Women discovered they enjoyed earning an income that contributed to the family in a big way, even allowing them to leave bad relationships and become fully independent. It was progress at its finest. This same progress permitted the family to employ caregivers or utilize something new called ‘day care’. Grandma and Grandpa went home to enjoy their retirement; there was not a great deal of time left to spend as a family unit as this new way of life was developed.
Technology began to move quickly; food preparation changed in a vast way. Gardens and home canned food gave way to processed canned and frozen foods and the infamous ‘fast food’ made its debut. Progress was unleashed on the American family.
The value of the earlier generation was the roots and the memories it held. They contained the expectations within the fabric of the family and the knowledge of who the family was and who it was expected to become based on those values. When children were angry with or confused about their parents and their life grandparents stepped in to remind them of what was right and wrong and who they were. They felt free to do so; they had always been a part of their lives and believed their input was valuable. As the influx of income entered the family units in America more and more single parent families evolved. This combined with a vast increase of two parent working families. Both contributed to a change in the way family life was interpreted. Grandparents no longer lived within the family home, nor were they included at the same level as before. This ‘progress’ combined with the ease of meal preparations and gardening permitted parents the freedom to bypass those age-old lessons along with the work required to complete the projects. Extra hands were necessary and welcomed in the past.
Children no longer were encouraged to bond with grandparents or necessarily seek their advice. Things were done differently in the name of progress and enlightenment. The children began to lose their way, many having no idea of where they really came from, who preceded them in their lineage or what they could or should expect from those contributions. Natural born talents had to be discovered alone. Pride in who they were could not be developed; they had no idea. The result was educators and their peers assumed the grandparents position in life and taught our children what they believed they should become. Should we really wonder why the family unit no longer looks the same? Or how someone in our family could be led into something we may imagine is harmful or reprehensible? The grandparents who would remind them that they are not that kind of people have faded in importance in their lives. Now we have three generations of people who never had the opportunity to learn the good old-fashioned lessons about who they and their families have always been.
The three prong connection in the family unit is as important as it was treated before the war and all the progress. We may all benefit from regenerating it in our lives before our family history disappears as our roots die from old age and a lack of attention. These things won’t be found in the annals of history online; this is a touchy feely kind of attention and information.