Real Talk

The Generational Struggle Is Real: “When I was your age…”

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“You cannot raise your children
as your parents raised you, because your parents
raised you for a world that no longer exists”

How often do we find ourselves on the preaching end of, “When I was your age…”?

Because you should never say never…

We swore we would be the generation that would break that cycle, stay on the hip end of things, and always be able to relate to the kids. Oh, we thought we knew everything. I remember being a teenager in the 90’s, when life was much simpler. Telebabad, mixtapes, after-school hangouts, and watching movies on VHS. Around the turn of the millennium, texting became the norm, and the age of technology launched the generational gap we never saw coming.

Those teenage hormones…

The “teenager” is a concept that all parents either dread or fear. Let’s be honest, it was never something we looked forward to, unless it was in anticipation of not having to prepare their snacks anymore. Whenever it comes up in conversation, it is usually met with either an exasperated groan, followed by a hard eye roll to the back of the head, or a very sarcastic laugh. Those hormones really do a number on a person, and the more concerned you are, the more you become public enemy number one.

How the (turn) tables have turned…

Admitting that times have changed is a tough pill to swallow. It comes with the realization of how much time has actually passed, as we continue to debate whether or not baggy pants and puka shells will ever make a comeback. We force the kids to listen to Hip Hop in the car, hoping that they develop an affinity for it, and movie nights revolve around our childhood favorites like Back To The Future or The Karate Kid.

We encourage them to spend more time outdoors, we vilify screen time, keep tabs on processed food consumption, and rely on social media to keep us updated (if we’re cool enough not to be blocked). None of which were issues when we were about that age. I guess, “Get off the phone!” still stands, but it doesn’t particularly have the same meaning as it once did. We were just talking to friends. That’s it. These kids could be doing literally anything on a smartphone; from transferring money to creating an alternate universe. The possibilities are endless.

On being a “cool” mom

The truth of the matter is, it’s hard to stay “with it”. There’s only so much you can do to prepare for the teenage years, and when it actually hits, you wonder how you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing anyway. But, guess what? Neither did our parents. We weren’t playing outdoors without any supervision because they believed in independent play. Of course not, they just had better things to do than watch us all day, and make sure we didn’t break any limbs. Which, by the way, some of us did, and it’s unbelievable we made it out of certain situations alive.

We are living in the age of immediate gratification, which means our adolescent children barely outgrew that infancy phase of “I want this, and I want it now”. We used to wait an entire week to find out what happened on Dawson’s Creek, and these guys get to binge watch full seasons of whatever they want! Remember all the times you spent waiting for a music video on MTV just to be able to see it once that day? Thanks to Youtube, our kids don’t have that problem. Their dilemma now is what to do with themselves when a commercial pops up and there’s no option to skip it.

It’s tough being a kid nowadays

I really do feel for the young adults of this generation. The social media era is brutal. When we did something stupid, we could rest easy knowing that there was never any evidence. We laugh at our misfortune based on memory alone, hoping nobody else saw it in person. Our kids are living under a microscope where one wrong move could potentially destroy everything that matters to them, while it’s being viewed by 12,000 people. That’s a difficult thought to grasp, especially during a time when you’re still trying to figure yourself out.

Let it go, mama…

Clinging onto the wonders of our teenage years only makes us so far removed from our current teens’ reality. There are very few things that we have in common with them, and that isn’t really anybody’s fault. Time moves differently for all of us, and they’re simply trying to navigate through their youth as best they can. If we can find the strength to let go and allow that, just as we hoped our parents would have done when we were their age, then maybe we’ll all get through this just fine.

The rules of parenting are constantly being updated, and there’s a slight lag on our upload (see what I did there?) It takes us just a little bit longer to understand the world our children are growing up in, but it doesn’t mean we won’t get there eventually. If there’s one thing I resent the most from this generation though, it’s their lack of awkwardly dressed kiddie photos. We did such a good job dressing them up, they’re lucky they only have good looking pictures. Or are they?

Needless to say, we should probably cut them some slack. The 90’s will always be the coolest.