My Gen X Truths Have Crumbled

I’m in my 50’s (hence the blog name) and I’m a part of Gen X. Are you? Today I want to chat about how what I was taught that was important seems to have gone by the wayside and how I feel about it.

And I’d love to hear what you think, so feel free to comment below!

Growing up for me, it was work hard, be a good person and go to school. There was no question that I had to finish college and get my degree. Once I did that, it was get a job within 2 weeks of graduation and I did. Work hard. Move up the ladder. Make sacrifices that will hopefully pay off down the road. And I did it all without question because it was how it was in our home. What was expected and nothing less was tolerated.

Date. Find a good man who has a future whom you love. Marry. Buy a house. Have children. Stay home to raise them while he works. You (women) are to take care of everybody and everything because he’s working (and even when I worked I was still expected to do it).

Raise good kids who get good grades and are into sports. They have to be productive and community service oriented. Raise them Catholic so they learn religion and discipline. No hanky panky kids. Don’t get into trouble at school. No drugs, no drinking, no bad grades, otherwise it reflects badly on the parents (especially Mom).

And as the kids get older, put some money away for a vacation/retirement home so that you can enjoy yourselves once the kids graduate from college. Make sure they get their degrees because they need them for work. If they don’t get their degrees and good paying jobs, it looks bad on you (the mom) because you were home with them.

Well…it didn’t turn out as planned, did it? Divorced. Kids live with me. One has graduated college, but is delivering pizzas because he can’t find a job. The other one made it through a few college semesters and now is a stock boy at a grocery store and says he might go back to college, but isn’t sure.

However, on a side note, they’re good people. Because once we divorced and I got back on my feet, I parented them differently. I’ve blogged about it before. Not that we’re on equal footing here, because I’m still Queen Mum Janie, but my sons and I work together as a tribunal when something goes awry.

Life didn’t turn out as I planned, nor how it was supposed to be according to my parents and the generational rules which I was raised on. Tomorrow is part 2. I’d love to hear what your rules were…

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17 Responses to My Gen X Truths Have Crumbled

  1. The V Pub says:

    From a brilliant John Lennon observation: “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”
    Jobs and possessions are just things. What matters most is the quality of human beings you’ve raised, and that my friend, is called success.

    Like

    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you Rob! I agree with you about the things and possessions etc. It’s not been about status even though I will admit, it once was during the marriage. But this simpler life is way more appealing, more satisfactory and much richer than the old life and I prefer this one!

      And thank you for the reminder of success – yes, these humans I call my sons are good people, kind, loving and caring above all and I am ever grateful that they’re mine.

      Have a great day! πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. LA says:

    I had the same rules as you did. My rules now are work hard, try not to hurt others, respect others, try not to judge, live simply, experiences are better than objects.

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  3. scr4pl80 says:

    Somewhat similar rules (although I am 10 years older than you) and college wasn’t stressed but getting good grades and going through high school was. Trades were still a thing back then. Getting married before moving out of the house was expected. “The husband is the master of the house. He is king,” was the statement i heard regularly along with “Once you move out you can’t come back home” and divorce was taboo (Catholic here too). I moved out before marriage, got married and then divorced six month later – no kids. Married again (37 years this month) and have 3 adult kids, two of which live at home, only one went to college. I must have listened to the part about the husband being the master and that did some damage to our family but I didn’t realize it until just a year or two ago. My “rules” to the kids are to be the best person they can, be compassionate and respect others – to my son I added “don’t wear saggy pants” – LOL.

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    • janieleeds says:

      I’m giggling Janet – about the saggy pants. LOL It’s all so interesting to me to hear everyone’s stories and how they were raised and with what expectations and how they managed those expectations in their own lives.

      My Dad was King too. Ex’s family expectations were the King thing too which didn’t bode well for me later in life even though ex started out helping and appreciating all I did. Congrats on 2nd marriage – 37 years! Woo HOO!

      I like your rules too. I think that’s what we’re all striving for – just be good people who are respectful and kind. Thanks for sharing Janet!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ainsobriety says:

    My rules were extremely similar, but I was expected to continue my professional career while raising kids, staying fit and making Pinterest lunches. No stay at home for me…

    I was born in 1971.

    Trying to do it all took me down. Once I realized this was bullshit I dusted off and started sending lunchables to school. I also had a live in nanny for many years. Someone to manage all the housework that my ex refused to help with.

    At almost 50 I am much more me. I have tattoos. I do what I want, for myself. I am done climbing the corporate ladder and am satisfied with a good, stable, well paying job, but will never be Vice President.

    I’m not sure what I have taught my kids. I still value education, and my son is going into engineering, like me, in September. I hope they live a life they like, while also being responsible enough to set aside every personal whim for others.

    I struggle to even define success anymore. I also wonder what I will do with the second half of my life!

    Anne

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    • janieleeds says:

      Anne, I love that you are much more you now at almost 50! Congrats! And as life evolves, you will find that the second half will develop with enthusiasm and joy. I can’t wait to hear about it!

      How lovely that your son is going into engineering like his Mom! πŸ™‚ That’s exciting for sure. I think you’ve got success without the trials of being a VP. Good for you!

      I think success is defined by what we choose – happiness, authenticity, being a good person and finding peace within. So you’ve got all that!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. TJ Fox says:

    I’m not too far below you in years, so still in the Gen X group. While there weren’t any definitive expressions of expectations in my house, there were all kinds of unspoken expectations. There was definitely a double standard between expectations for me versus the expectations for my brothers. Even my brothers had slightly different expectations as they were born about 14 years apart. But I chafed at most rules and boundaries and expectations as I hit my teens (when I realized that it didn’t matter what I did, my parents would never be satisfied or happy with me), so I pushed those hard or outright ignored them while trying to do my own thing but still making efforts in other areas try to meet some sort of parental approval. I think those unspoken expectations were a little less rigid than yours, though.

    There wasn’t the expectation that I would grow up to be a housewife, though it was made clear that that was the ideal, and it absolutely wasn’t something I was interested in (which is hilarious as that is exactly what I ended up doing), I was still the one expected to do things around the house like cooking and cleaning and dishes, things my brothers were never expected to do. There was definitely the attitude that if you weren’t involved in sports, you weren’t good enough or successful. Even then, there were only certain sports that were considered acceptable. Things like dance or anything too “girly” absolutely didn’t count.

    I spent way too much of my life attempting to attain some level of approval against those unspoken, undefined expectations and was never happy. I didn’t get to a point where I realized that happiness is so much more important than any vague ideal of what a “good life” should look like until I was much older. I did hear way more times than I could ever count, some variation on “What will people think?” I still don’t know who those nebulous “people” or “they” actually were or why what they thought mattered more than anything else.

    Now, my only goal for my kids (and even myself) fits in to 4 basic rules. Be safe. Be healthy. Be happy. Don’t be an a**hole. As long as those things are met, or there is an attempt to meet those things, I’m good with however that looks for them. Granted, it isn’t always easy and sometimes I really have to stop and remind myself when I’m not a fan of what my kids may be choosing that all the rest really doesn’t matter if those 4 goals are being met. I also have to remind myself at times that I’m not the one that gets to define those 4 things for my kids. I will always much rather my kids live a life they are happy with than to ever see them miserable in an attempt to meet some ridiculous idea of how I thought their lives should look.

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    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you for sharing TJ! Wow…my brother had zero expectations put on him too. It was always amazing to me to watch how differently we were raised – as you were too.

      I love your four rules! What a great way to live because it covers everything! I am a work in progress I think as during this ‘a-ha’ time I am developing that freedom that you have succeeded in making for yourself and your family. I think it’s just the letting go of the thoughts in my head to cut those cords that no longer exist in reality, except in my head.

      Thank you for supporting, helping and sharing with me. xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • TJ Fox says:

        There are so many things that we carry into adulthood that guide how we live even if we aren’t conscious of it. Some times it takes a major shift in our circumstances or emotions to see them and how they can actually be an unhealthy way of doing things. Those are some of the hardest things to break away from. Often times, it is an ongoing battle within ourselves to consciously make the choice to not follow that path.

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      • janieleeds says:

        I agree with you TJ! You are so right…I’m feeling ripe and ready to release and move forward!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. petespringerauthor says:

    Having been raised Catholic, I’m familiar with many of these rules and expectations. I don’t have anything against organized religion. It’s just that many of the so-called “truths” aren’t an accurate representation of society where standards of inequality rule supreme.

    I think the most important thing is one of the things you got right. Raising decent and happy kids should be the priorityβ€”not living up to someone else’s expectations.

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    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you Pete. I agree. After the divorce, the religious part became more spiritual, even for the kids as we’ve evolved and it’s been better for us all.
      I think we just have to keep doing our best and being decent and happy as you wrote. That’s our priority. πŸ™‚

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