The first time I became aware of the transition from my upbringing to my first grandchild’s was when my eldest son and his wife made a visit with their firstborn who had just turned two. They live a distance so they stayed for a few days. From morning till night I felt as if I was part of the Inquisition. No matter what the child was doing she was asked if she was comfortable, happy, did she want to change her activity, did she need a snack, or was she tired. If she said she wanted the snack, my daughter-in-law would turn into a waiter from a five-star restaurant with a menu including the specials of the day. Once the kid decided what she wanted, my daughter-in-law would ask her if what kind of dish she wanted it and in and what type of utensils she might need. After two days I was beside myself. I thought back to my mother and her drill sergeant tactics. “Clean your room than you can go out and play”, I don’t care who else is doing that, you’re not”, Eat everything on your plate, the people in China are starving”. Talking back was a non-issue and I believe that the majority of individuals that come from my generation have had the same experiences. Do I believe that it was all okay? No I do not. Some of us became compromised from having parents who gave no opportunity for explanations or questions, but many did not. However, what has followed has not necessarily all been good. The incessant need to make children feel good about every little thing they do has left some of them in vulnerable positions as adults. According to a recent article in USA Today, about job interviewing, many of the Millennials haven’t a clue how to interview. There are varying shades of appropriate behavior. They have been so coddled that they text, or take calls during an interview and come casually dressed, because they believe in being comfortable. One young girl even brought her cat. I am fascinated by the paradigm shift. I do not believe in parents as dictators but if kids are to grow up understanding how to be in the world, shouldn’t they be able to know the difference between sitting in your living room in your pajamas and going to interview for a managerial position with the president of human resources? Not unless the guy interviewing you is wearing pajamas too and holding his pet Siamese.
I read with great amusement about a middle-school principal who decided to ban strapless dresses for the eighth graders prom. She had a variety of reasons, it distracts the boys, and she felt they were inappropriate for young girls. Interestingly enough, the teens seemed not to take issue with this dictate. However, one of the parents is protesting quite vigorously by sending a letter to the Board of Education saying” it was a violation of her daughter’s 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection” USA Today April 24, 2013. My memory bank suddenly brought me back to my own middle school years and high school dances. First of all we had no prom in eighth grade. I must say in retrospect I am immensely grateful that we didn’t. It would have meant finding a garment that could adapt itself to a body that was not yet “quite right”And what about finding a date in a class where all the boys followed the blonde bombshell Priscilla Banks around the school yard drooling. In eighth grade I don’t think most of the girls desired seeking out a dress that would allow them not to look gawky. Somehow or other most of our bodies were not as mature looking as a lot of the kids today. We had proms in high school, but I went to catholic School and the Nuns were relentless about us not revealing any skin that might be improper. I remember my junior prom standing in line before we went out into the auditorium to be with our dates. One of the sisters stood on a chair so she could see if we had any cleavage showing. She was equipped with an arsenal of cover ups which included Kleenex, shawls, and straps that could have held up a small building. No one became incensed over it. We certainly poked fun at it and laughed many times over the years when we had reunions. The parents never intruded. If they did they got a look that could have possibly shortened their life span. Yes, it was a different time and things change, but is it always for the better? One of the other rationale the above principal used for her decision was that “quite often strapless dresses fall when your dancing” Which could make for a lot of Janet Jackson moments. Perhaps what’s really missing is common sense. Wouldn’t you feel freer and have a better time if you didn’t have to continually worry that something might just “pop out”? But we know that the accountability factor would be lost in lieu of suing the dress manufacturer.