Lessons from our generations.

There has been a whole generation research done for our generations of Baby boomers to millennials to generation X and Y etc. And the parenting group among each generations have something to teach us.

Pure disclaimer : The facts that I am sharing below are purely related to my family , my parents, Grandparents only. I have observed their thought processes, the foundations of my family’s values and learnings that I have chosen to share my views on them.

To give a brief introduction to the generation divisions , those are listed below – (and I am going to strictly keep the recent ones post 1930 only) –

    • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before
    • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 – 1964.
    • Generation X: Born 1965 – 1976.
    • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 – 1995.
    • Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 – TBD.

1. The traditionalists (born 1945 and before) – This generation belongs to my grandparents. I haven’t seen my father’s side parents but I have definitely been under the care of my mother’s mother. My grandfather passed away when I turned a year old so I have not really known him but I had the chance to be with my grandmother until I finished my college as she passed away due to an ailment in 2011.

Around 20 years of having my grandmother around, I observed her to be a woman who was the bread maker to my family since her young days. Teaching Quran and Arabic to kids and adults at her home and by going to other’s homes, she was always on her feet. She preferred to walk every time she went out, she was an early bird in terms of waking up in the morning, taking bath, praying, preparing the room for the students to come and arranging everything. She gave cleanliness, her duties and responsibilities utmost priority. Other things like reading newspaper or arranging her clothes etc she would keep it for the night. She was a woman of respect in our society as she was the only lady who had been a Quran and Arabic tutor from decades. To us grandchildren, she was strict and at the same time she loved us all. Having 7 grand daughters staying in her house was definitely chaos but that’s how the home was sweet. To her children, she was a good mother trying to ensure her kids are settled and happy but those times of 1970s and 80s settling was utmost priority than their education or growth.

2. Baby boomers – My parents belong to this generation. Married at a very early age ( my mother was 17 years and my father was aged 20). My mother has been a pro in home making since her young days. Her biggest passion was cooking and she only excelled while handling her family her home. She loved dressing up and had really good hair during her teenage days. Following her mother’s footsteps my mother too preferred cleanliness over everything else. In terms of handling my brother and me, she has always given us the freedom to pursue things we love. With a middle class background, there were times where we faced financial issues but my parents did their best to keep us happy. From putting us to best schools, ensuring a great education to standing on our own feet they have been the biggest contributors. I always was passionate about stage, dance acts or acting etc. Inspite of being annoyed at my many demands for costumes, this and that my mother still allowed me to get ahead after a lot of hesitations. My father spent 30 years being self employed and then a complete decade in Saudi Arabia. He had a tough time being away from us kids with just 2 months of vacation after every 3.5 yrs of gap. He tried his best to pass on his love through his letters and phone calls. So my mother and my elder brother were my father to me during his absence. They gave me everything I asked for, my childhood was really best. My parents were slightly liberal in terms of maybe hobbies or passions but studies I chose the path that they suggested. Their main criteria was ensuring school college education was complete and job at your comfort. To support our family, my brother and I began to handle responsibilities. Both of us did not get much time to focus on what we actually wanted to pursue but we just went with family needs and flow.

3. Millennials – My brother, who is 13 years elder to me belongs to this generation. Born in 1978 he was meek, intelligent and all by himself. He could manage studies and work at a very young age including doing part time and college education. During my childhood he was equivalent to a father, taking up responsibilities , ensuring I did not miss dad as he was abroad. He took very good care of me, he knew my talents well – be it dance or singing or acting. When he attended my school annual day , I was performing the main role in the play on stage. As soon as it was done I rushed to meet my family and the first thing my brother said was – you should be an actor!! Haha! I wish I had to chance to. Currently he is a father to two beautiful kids. As a father, he is real good in understanding his children’s needs, allowing them to explore and grow, helps them with all his might. Ensures to spend the best time with them, groom them and also give them everything that he could not afford when he was a child. The freedom of allowing the kids to explore life on their own, giving them their space, enlightening them etc is the best thought process of this generation. My sister in law also belonging to this generation, is a woman of power, courage and goals. She independently handles her family responsibilities, she uses her free time handling a home library at her apartment which also has kids workshops being conducted and also takes great care of her kids. She has made sure that her kids get adequate sleep, play time and also study time when it comes to managing their schedules.

From all these generations, we learn how liberal each generation has become in each facets of life –

In expressing love – my grandmother never expressed in happiness but in anger. My mother loves me but never expressed in words, but her actions do. My brother and sister in law are able to shower their love on their kids in words and actions.

In taking life decisions – my grandparents were authoritative so they took their own decisions which their children silently followed. Be it for education or settling in life etc. My parents did not force us to go the path they suggested but due to circumstances we chose those ways. My brother and sister in law give their children freedom to decide what hobbies they want to pursue, what sport they want to learn, what activities they are aiming to take up and what future goals they want to achieve.

In seeking life adventures – During the traditionalists times, life was meant to be the way it was. No random decisions, no unusual paths to choose. For the baby boomers, it was the same situation but they tried to be liberal with their children to a certain extent. In case of millennials, they ensure to make the best of life given by doing their best from going on family trips to holidays or movies or even fun events.

In beliefs and values – The values that flow from one generation to another are always intact and the same whereas our beliefs have turned from being very conservative to liberal yet open. Our values like honesty, truthfulness, virtues etc have and will live on for years. Just our beliefs on politics, religion, society, children upbringing have changed.

Technological influences – Generations like traditionalists and baby boomers have never been exposed to technology like the millennials who are taking the world by storm with their technological discoveries and growth.

Each of our generations only allow us to learn from them and grow taking the best from them. I have learnt that the daily life grinding that my grandparents or parents preferred is not needed, you could also choose your own path and get ahead, with strong determination perfection and encouragement from your loved ones. I really ponder as to how our grandparents were so rigid yet so strong in holding family and values together, our parents so selfless yet so hard working and dedicated to their work , responsibilities and how our latest generation believes in smart work rather than hard work and also how they balance family life with other responsibilities. Each generation has its own beauty, it’s own strength.

We could debate, fight to emerge winners yet the win would be when all of us are together. Remember the story of your 5 fingers – they are all different in size, shape but when put together is when you have strength and you emerge victorious 🙂

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