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Generation X parents outshine Baby Boomers
The Plain Dealer ^ | 9/6/04 | Laura DeMarco

Posted on 09/07/2004 8:49:33 AM PDT by qam1

Group called slackers embraces family

In the 1990s they were derided as cynical slackers. They were mocked in pop culture as lazy, selfish types who would rather spend their time moping in overpriced coffee shops than moving into adulthood.

But Generation X is all grown up now - and having children.

And when reality finally did bite the 60 million Americans born between 1965 and '79, they didn't react as might be expected. Gen-Xers are embracing family life with a vigor not seen in baby-boomers.

Generation-X includes more stay-at-home dads, fathers working from home and dads cutting back long hours than previous generations, say analysts.

Gen-X moms are distinguishing themselves from baby-boomers by embracing traditional roles. Though they're more college-educated than any previous generation, more Generation-X moms than boomers are staying home or working part time.

Xers' focus on home life shows up in several more parenting trends: they make financial sacrifices in exchange for family time; they're increasingly discipline-oriented; and they let their kids just have fun.

In part this is a reaction to their background, say sociologists. Their childhood was a time of personal and political upheaval. Xers were the first generation with large numbers raised in broken homes. Almost one-third had divorced parents, compared with 13 percent of boomers, according to the Yankelovich research analysis firm. Nearly half of all Xers had working moms. Before they were labeled slackers, they were latchkey kids.

Now Generation-Xers have become homebodies. And they're raising more than half of all children under 18 in the United States, some 40 million kids.

Fathers more involved

Three years ago, Ellen Barrett, program director for the Heights Parent Center, noticed more men coming to the Cleveland Heights gathering Place.

"In the last three years, we've really had a surge of dads, and not just dads who happen to have the day off or who are home on vacation," she says.

The center now has a busy father's play group with about 40 members, most in their late 20s to mid 30s, that meets several times a month.

The last decade has brought significant changes in the roles of fathers, says James Chung, president of Boston-based Reach Advisors. The company recently released the first major study on Generation X parenting. Titled "From Grunge to Grown Up," it surveyed 3,020 Gen-X and baby boom parents nationwide.

According to the study, 48 percent of Gen-X fathers spend three to six hours per week on child rearing, versus 39 percent of boomer dads. Forty-seven percent of Xers wish they could spend more time with their children, compared to 36 percent of boomers.

The number of stay-at-home dads has jumped 18 percent since 1994, to 189,000 in 2002, according to the Census Bureau.

For Parma resident John Benson, 35, and wife Maria, 36, the decision to swap roles was a financial one. As a writer, Benson could work from home while taking care of their 1- and 3-year-old sons, unlike his wife, who works in accounting.

But the choice was also based on his childhood.

"I was a latchkey kid, and I don't want my kids to be latchkey kids," he says.

That's a common denominator among many Gen-X parents.

"Gen-Xers grew up in the aftermath of a time of much social upheaval, in an era of rapidly increasing divorce rates and mothers rapidly re-entering the work force," says Chung. "Some of them want to raise their families different from the way they grew up."

Bernard Carl Rosen, professor emeritus of sociology at Cornell University and author of "Masks and Mirrors: Generation X and the Chameleon Personality," says it's not just family history that's influencing Xers.

"Generation X is far more insecure than boomers. Their family situation was a bad one, the economy was not in good shape when they were growing up, they've seen a lot of betrayal by politicians. The world they grew up in felt very fragile."

But mom still the anchor

When one parent does stay at home, it's still more often the mother. What's different is that though there are now more college-educated women among Xers, there also has been an increase in mothers staying at home and working part time.

Census figures found that 10.6 million children under 15 in two-parent homes were being raised by stay-at-home moms in 2002, a 13 percent increase from the previous decade.

Twenty-five percent of Gen-X moms spend 12-plus hours a day on child rearing, according to Reach, more than double that of boomer moms. (Even when boomer children were as young as the Xers' kids, moms spent less time with them, says Chung.)

Cleveland Heights stay-at-home mom Andrea Lynn, 32, says she had long planned to quit working as a librarian when she had children. A past nanny job helped make up her mind.

"I saw what the working two-parent household was like and I didn't want that," says the mother of a 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son. "It's too hard to have everything."

Many women are coming to that conclusion.

The number of professional women working part time - by choice - has risen 17 percent from 1994, to 2.9 million according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In part, this is due to the fact that Gen-Xers feel less loyalty to one company than past generations did. Women today also don't feel like they have to prove themselves as much as boomers did - it's a given they can have a career if they want it.

"I knew working full time wasn't going to work out after the birth of my third child," says Bay Village resident Amy Hannum, 33, mother of a 7-year-old son and 5- and 3-year-old daughters. She works three days a week as a development writer at Oberlin College. "I wanted balance in my life."

Hannum plans to return to work full time when her youngest enters school, a career path similar to many Gen-X moms'. Only 16 percent of stay-at-home moms will not consider returning to work, says the Reach survey.

"Now there are more options for women," explains Chung.

Discipline returning

Choice comes with a price.

"I told my husband that even if we had to give up a car, I wanted to stay home," says Lynn. "He was very supportive."

Willingly making financial sacrifices is a common Gen-X parenting trait, notes Chung. But the cuts are aimed at parents, not children.

There is, however, one thing for their kids that they seem to be cutting back on: the permissiveness of many baby-boomer parents.

"A lot of boomer parents think they have to be friends and buddies with their kids," says Hannum. "A lot of Generation X parents have a good time with kids but have clear boundaries that they are the parents.

Adds Lynn, "You owe it to your kids to teach them how to behave and to have manners. I really believe in limits for kids."

For many, that includes lighter extracurricular schedules.

"There's less demand for enrichment activities" among Gen-X parents, says Chung. "The attitude is more 'let the kids be kids.' " ."

Such attitudes are natural for Gen-Xers, explains Rosen.

"They are very sensitive to other people's needs," he says. "To the boomer, the world was more or less fashioned to his or her needs, and that included children. I think Generation-X will make better parents than boomers."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: babyboomers; culture; genx; parenting; parents
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To: skeeter
I think its generally true that kids tend to mimic their parents values, which would mean that if this news is true there must have been a good number of boomer parents who raised their kids properly.

The key point to be remembered here is that most of the boomers who would have raised their kids poorly chose to murder them in the womb instead

101 posted on 09/07/2004 2:11:25 PM PDT by John O (God Save America (Please))
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To: Ol' Sox
Everytime Qam1 submits one of these Gen-X posts, I feel as though I am being urged to justify my existence or apologize

You ain't kidding - see post #89. LOL...

102 posted on 09/07/2004 2:14:05 PM PDT by skeeter
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To: John O

I'm glad you found Jesus, I never lost Him.

103 posted on 09/07/2004 2:19:33 PM PDT by Gabz (HURRAY!!!!!!!! School started today!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: qam1

23 yr old mom to a 3 month old, married to a 39 yr old. We are the beginning and end of Gen X, and this article describes us well.

104 posted on 09/07/2004 2:20:04 PM PDT by LibertyGirl77
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To: Melas

Yeah, I guess I usually say that in liberal circles. It becomes a habit to say, "Not that there's anything wrong with that" to avoid sounding like I am judging them.

105 posted on 09/07/2004 2:20:49 PM PDT by MaineRepublic
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To: cupcakes; Gabz

There is a term for people like me and like cupcake's husband who were born very late Boomer.

I was born in late 1960.

Cupcake's hubby was born in 61.

Those of us in this weird "cusp" era are sometimes called "Generation Jones".

We were too little to do the whole Woodstock thing, we were too young to go to Vietnam, we missed the first rush of Yuppie-dom and the "Me" Generation, and we became sexually active JUST in time for AIDS to change everything.

For myself, I have a lot more in common with Gen X than I do with Boomers.

106 posted on 09/07/2004 2:59:55 PM PDT by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno-World!")
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To: Ol' Sox

Kool Aid is the right description. It strikes me as the herd mentality at work. A herd of sheep waiting for the next fleecing. The sad thing is that this mindset produced a lot of the ills of the 60s that they accuse the whole so-called boomer generation of having- "I'm special" "Look at me" The whole mindset that says human nature changed in 1965, or 1964 or whenever they now say that the generations changed. In a world where we have seen in the last few days another example of pure evil, why would anyone wish to needlessly divide us over superficial and invalid distinctions?

107 posted on 09/07/2004 3:07:40 PM PDT by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: tiamat

"Those of us in this weird "cusp" era are sometimes called "Generation Jones". "

Also called "tweeners".

108 posted on 09/07/2004 3:21:25 PM PDT by BombHollywood
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To: BombHollywood

"Tweener, tweener, tweener!"


( Seriously, thanks for the palaver!)

109 posted on 09/07/2004 3:23:32 PM PDT by tiamat ("Just a Bronze-Age Gal, Trapped in a Techno-World!")
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To: rhombus

Ha ha ha. That's a funny one.

Come and take it.

110 posted on 09/07/2004 3:26:43 PM PDT by Unknowing (Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.)
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To: tiamat; cupcakes

Consider me in that group with you...I was born in '60 (my b'day is this month).

Even my husband, born in '55, has more in common with GenX than the boomers........

Why are some and some not - who knows.

111 posted on 09/07/2004 3:32:05 PM PDT by Gabz (HURRAY!!!!!!!! School started today!!!!!!!!!!!)
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To: Unknowing
Come and take it.

Well that's the problem with an entitlements like social security. If enough people collect something they'll keep voting for more. Babyboomers will be a giant voting block. They won't just let the Gov't stop paying them. But hey don't blame us, we expanded the system our greatest generation parents left us. Except we used hearts instead of our heads. And now, with drug care, our heads will be drugged out all the time. That's OK, you Gen Xers can vote in free cosmetic surgery to repair the damage done by tattoos and flabby stretched out belly-button rings. You'll have to make your kids pay for it, of course. Except by that time there won't be any paychecks left... just a guaranteed job with the Gov't... ah sweet socialistic utopia.

112 posted on 09/07/2004 3:41:05 PM PDT by rhombus
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To: rocky88

We did the same and I'm 54. One of the things we were always grateful for is that we had the sense never to value money and material as much as our three daughters. They came first whether we drove used cars or went camping for vacations.

113 posted on 09/07/2004 3:48:15 PM PDT by muir_redwoods
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To: LibertyGirl77
I am between a late boomer and early Generation Xer. So I have coined the term "Boomeration". And I am proud to be from the Boomeration generation.

Not quite baby boomer, not quite generation xer.

Personally, I think all other generations suck, are lazy, they kill their babies etc. That being said, the WWII gernation used up all the resources, consumed everything in sight, had all the best jobs, they actually had a thing called job security etc, Mom never had to work, Dad was able to pay for everything on one pay check, and they are now all retired with all the money. LOL!

The baby boomers ate the big one. Government turned on them, the school teachers used dope and brainwashed all the kids into leftist, both Mom and Dad had to worked 40 hrs a week just to pay the mortage and bills, most of the women cheated on their husbands since they had to go to work while the married guys at work started hitting on the married women, and it turned into total chaos, and continues today. Most Gen-xers I know sit in the corner and drool, thinking they are great. They wouldn't know a hardship from a ham sandwich.

So screw um all. I am a proud memeber of the boomeration!

Well, that about sums it up.

114 posted on 09/07/2004 3:59:26 PM PDT by Joe Hadenuf (I failed anger management class, they decided to give me a passing grade anyway)
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To: rhombus

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." -- Thomas Jefferson

Baby Boomers may be a giant voting block, but the "Gen X" families shall not be reduced from penury to slavery, by political means or otherwise.

The FICA withholding scheme is the only assurance of Social Security funding for the Baby Boomers. Independent contractors, the self-employed, many professionals, and cash operators do not participate in FICA withholding. Many Gen X workers don't participate in FICA -- certainly not enough to fund the Baby Boomers at current levels of expectation.

115 posted on 09/07/2004 4:12:34 PM PDT by Unknowing (Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.)
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To: skeeter
On the other hand, the times we live in probably have some positive effect - GenXers have the advantage of seeing the deleterious results of their parents' generation's licentiousness.

Bingo. My parents are still screwups, but my siblings and I got to observe first-hand to the extent they made a parade of poor life choices and the consequences of said choices. It wasn't that I was raised so well, but that I made a clear association between how my parents lived their lives and the lives they actually lived as a result. Apparently many people of my parents' generation still haven't figured out this correlation, but I sure as hell did and managed to avoid repeating their stupidity.

As a result though, I don't really communicate much with my parents any more, nor do any of my siblings. My parents live on a completely different planet and still don't see any kind of personal responsibility in how their lives turned out and are at least somewhat ashamed of how we turned out insofar as all their children vocally rejected the beliefs pounded into us as idiotic and foolish. I don't have much to say to a person who steadfastly refuses to examine axioms that are grossly and obviously defective, and that they think I owe them my lifes work because they "raised" me pretty much sets me off.

116 posted on 09/07/2004 4:15:41 PM PDT by tortoise (All these moments lost in time, like tears in the rain.)
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To: Cogadh na Sith
Instead of enduring and loathing, you should have fought the extreme element. Now it characterizes your generation.

I see. By who's estimation? Yours? The media's? Phooey - you sound just like a koolaid drinker, lapping up the squeezings of the New York Times. Cogadh, were you among the Protest Warriors in New York last week? If not, then by your own definition, YOU are being defined by the finger-tossing, epithet screeching, unwashed harpies that marched on that Sunday. Like being brushed broadly?

117 posted on 09/07/2004 4:32:22 PM PDT by Ol' Sox (Issa u Akbar)
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To: qam1
You again.

Why do you persist on disrespecting those who made a life for you? Why are you so angry?

118 posted on 09/07/2004 4:33:50 PM PDT by Glenn (The two keys to character: 1) Learn how to keep a secret. 2) ...)
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To: astounded
The Boomers turned on America, and I am ashamed of much of our generation. We are,indeed,overall the "Worst Generation", who have been aided and abetted by the Boomer leftist media, the so-called "professoriate", and the purported "entertainment" industry.

The generation before them is the one that decided to raid the treasury and stick their children with the bill. Maybe that had something to do with it.

119 posted on 09/07/2004 4:38:16 PM PDT by Moonman62
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To: CrazyJoeDivola

good for you and her! But most of all, good for the baby. This article pleases me,,it seems that the kids turned out well. My kids are gen xers and this describes them. Two highly educated women are at home with babies, tightening the belts, hubbies are more involved with kids,,,,a good thing as Auntie Martha would say.

120 posted on 09/07/2004 4:38:36 PM PDT by cajungirl (no)
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