Parent Like You Mean It: How Did We Get Here?

Parent Like You Mean It: How Did We Get Here? February 26, 2021

How Did We Get Here?

How did we get here?
That’s a question that has been considered throughout the history of mankind – from the ancient of days, and quite often in the last few years here in the U.S. Yet, still, I don’t think we really ponder this enough.
How did we get here?
Can we ever get back to where we were? Should we? Do we really want to? I mean, do we want to enough to do the hard things that need to be done? And, if so, where is it we’d try to revert back to?
Confused yet?  I am.
I do have a theory, though.  And, I’ll admit, I have “borrowed” it from others, so I can’t claim that it’s entirely my own original idea. I probably learned its fundamental principles in college, and if you’re not being indoctrinated in college, what good is it, right?
Anyway, here we go:
How Did We Get Here?Going back to my grandparents’ generation – The Greatest Generation and even The Silent Generation which followed right behind – these were people who suffered through the Great Depression, saved the world from Axis Power tyranny and dreamed of a great big, beautiful tomorrow for their posterity. Generally speaking, they wanted their children, the Baby Boomers, to have what they didn’t have. My grandparents grew up with very, very little. So, when my grandpas came home from World War II and started their families, they simply wanted their kids to not have to go without (forgive the double negative). Ideally, their kids would have a stable roof over their heads, three square meals each day, stable schools to attend during the week and a structured church to attend on Sundays.
In other words, everything they didn’t have while growing up.
The Baby Boomers enjoyed that. My parents hadn’t suffered in the same way as their parents and, while their lives were far from perfect, they were given what they needed and then wanted more for their kids. Overall, they worked hard to give their kids – my generation – everything they needed. It wasn’t uncommon for kids my age – even us poor kids – to play little league and other youth sports, to have a mom in the workforce so that mom and dad – and eventually us kids – could have our own cars and the roads were even paved for more of us than in any other generation to go to college.
They gave us everything we needed.  Not bad for a bunch of hippies.
As we – Gen X – grew up and traded in our parachute pants and grunge jeans and flannels for more respectable office attire, we started forming our own goals for what we wanted for our children. However, sociologically, there was also a unique specter that haunted us since we were kids. You see, not only were we the first latch key generation, but we were also the first group of kids in America who grew up, every morning as we poured our cereal, staring at the faces of other kids who had gone missing. Right there, alongside Tony the Tiger was Jimmy Lipper, missing from Pacoima – the same age as me and wearing the same t-shirt as I have in my drawer. This is what kids of my generation stared at as our moms told us about the hot pockets waiting for us in the fridge while they went off to work.
Couple with that the “new” curriculum that waited for us at school designed to build our self-esteem. I remember being spoon fed Stuart Smalley-esque daily affirmations and watching Free To Be You and Me videos, I can only guess set up to counter the child abduction horrors that we gazed upon at the breakfast table.
And, 20 years later, it was up to us to form a worldview to instill in our kids.
Great job, you stupid hippies.
So, if Grandma and Grandpa gave our parents everything they didn’t have; and our parents gave us everything we needed, it’s only logical that we – via incredibly overprotective methods – strove to give our kids everything they wanted.
Want a safe school to attend and nice friends there? I’ll be watching over you at the playground to make sure it happens. Want good grades throughout your education? I’ll be volunteering in your class to make sure I can keep an eye on that teacher of yours. Want a college degree to land you your dream job in the self-discovery industry? I’ll be right there by your side… or hovering over you like a helicopter, if that’s what it takes.
And now, we have a new generation growing up under a new standard. “Everything mom and dad went without”, “everything you need”, “everything you want”… those tropes have all been done. Now, kids are feeling entitled to “everything you deserve… and, by the way, you deserve everything you set your mind to.”
…but we’ll save entitlement for another episode.
So, how did we get here?
We grabbed ahold of society’s steering wheel and drove America’s minivan right toward the cliff, that’s how.
Which brings me to today.
How did we get here?
How did we get to a point where, even in the face of data from Johns Hopkins University, as well as from other highly developed nations around the world, point to pre-pandemic life returning as early as April 2021, we still have leaders claiming we will need to wear masks and forgo group activities until 2022? Since the beginning of January, COVID cases have dropped nearly 80% across the country. Locally, at the hospital where my wife is an RN, cases spiked up in the 90’s last year. Then, in the latest surge, they blew the roof off at over 200 cases. But now, their case numbers have plummeted into the 40’s.
Yet, still, we’re told that schools across the country can’t reopen until all our children are vaccinated – children who are more endangered by the typical flu than COVID. We are told that churches can’t open for weekly worship services because, as one local pastor put it, “it just doesn’t make sense”. The risk is too high. And banish the idea of ever going to the movie theater, MLB game, concert, or Disneyland… it’s just not safe.
If that’s the case, then will life ever be “safe”? Will we ever be 100% secure from anyone ever contracting a coronavirus? The short answer is NO.
Now, when it comes to “safety”, one guy I admire immensely, is Mike Rowe – the Dirty Jobs guy. He started using the phrase “Safety Third” as a reminder that safety is ultimately an individual responsibility, and much more complex than an absolute first priority. As he put it:
“Safety first is the stuff of idiocy. It allows us to begin to believe that somebody other than us might care more about our well-being than we do; and the minute we buy into that nonsense, then we embrace the warm grip of complacency… Now, safety is not the enemy, but if you make it the priority, then let’s just wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and drive at speeds approaching five miles per hour and never assume ANYTHING that could ever be confused with risk… The unintended consequences of magnifying a virtue to a place it doesn’t deserve to occupy will always come back to kick us in the throat.” – Mike Rowe
In other words, at some point – and according to many experts including Martin Makary at Johns Hopkins, that point may be as soon as April 2021 – at some point, we need to start assuming some risk in life and leave our societal “health” up to our own individual decisions. In other words, live with liberty as we were always intended.
The days of helicopter parenting – not just by us Gen X’ers, but by our federal and state governments – have got to become days gone by… long gone stories of our ancient 21st century history.
But, as I asked earlier: Do we want it enough to do the hard things that need to be done? We say we long for “the good ol’ days”, but are we willing to live with calculated risks? Are we willing to rebel against those in power and want to retain their power, and send our kids out into the park to play a game of flag football? Are we brave enough to send our kids to, or even HOST a birthday party?
Or, are we going to continue to spend one sleepless night after another wrapping ourselves up in fear, worrying about Baba Yaga attacking our loved ones?
Now, I understand that there are those of us out there who have extreme extenuating circumstances – you’re too young to get the vaccine, but have compromised immune systems, or you simply have too many concerns about the vaccine to get the shot. I get it. But, the hard truth is that when we are addressing the health of the mass populace, we need policies that address the vast majority. If you’re in the scant minority who can’t take the risks, then definitely… you do you. Meanwhile, for the sake of liberty, for the sake of our and our kids’ emotional and psychological well being, for the sake of our economy and what used to be known as The American Way, let’s celebrate 2021… together.

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