Modern generations (Traditionalists and Baby Boomers) did not create a verb to discuss the multiple layers of benchmarks and rites of passage that evolved us into adults. We marched in blindly without even thinking! We did not know anyone was allowed to have ‘thoughts’ about the process, to resist the tidal wave of responsibility. Adulthood happened to us. We were catapulted headlong in to the unknown, with little or no training, for a tiny paycheck, so we could earn our way in the world. When we messed up, we got lost, arrived late, or paid library fees, or overdraft fees or high interest rates. We apologized for “not knowing” what we didn’t know. We married (mostly). We went into debt for things to entertain ourselves or impress others. We made mistakes–it was all part of the process.
Boomers (and some older GenXers) birthed their children naturally, and then raised them on fast food. In over 50% of all relationships, they divorced. They fractured families. They tried to run two households on the same income that had been difficult to run just one home. Their kids got shuffled between schools, day-cares, mom’s house, dad’s house, and extra-curriculars. Parents were stressed. Their children were hurried. Lessons were overlooked at home. Lessons like managing a checkbook, a calendar, social cues, or the retrieval of car keys.
Hurried children, (and now, some of their children), watched adults take on too many responsibilities, try to do too much with too little. They watched adults get hysterical. They watched adults get depressed.
Yes, they watched us, and long before it was their turn to ride that wave of adult life, they decided “maybe later,” or “maybe no,” or at least, to take their time deciding which waves to take. Our kids decided they would choose what to take on with their eyes open–instead of marching in blindly and ill-equipped like the adults they had watched as kids.
There is a generational issue in the Bible that explains some of this for us. King Saul was trying desperately to keep his place on the throne while David, the young warrior, God’s chosen successor to Saul’s throne, was growing more capable of taking over every day. Saul planned to assassinate David so he could maintain his own power and pass it on to his son Jonathan. David caught wind of Saul’s plan and hid from Saul! Interestingly, it was Saul’s son, Jonathan (also David’s best friend) who functioned as mediator. During the course of this drama, David had opportunities to kill Saul: in the wilderness, in his sleep, and in a cave while he relieved his bladder. But each time, David showed his elder king mercy and respect. Instead of killing Saul, David allowed Saul to live.
In a final battle, Saul and his son Jonathan, David’s best friend, were both killed in battle. David became the next king, according to God’s plan.
If you are in an older generation, you may, like Saul, cling desperately to keep things the same in your family, office, church, or workplace. If you are in a younger generation, you may have opportunities to choose, like David, how you will approach this generational struggle. Will you wait for God to work out His plan while you show respect and mercy? Or seize control of circumstances from the powerful hands of an older adult?
To my readers from modern generations: we might have messed up a few things, like Saul did. We still have time to learn new methods, and change the way we relate going forward. It’s not easy, but it is necessary.
To my post-modern readers: You are going to do things differently and sometimes not at all the way older people expect, like David. You will make the world a better place, just like previous generations did in their time. But just so you don’t get too big for your britches as you embrace your role in history, David made good decisions in his youth and spiraled out of control during his midlife crisis. Don’t get too judgy.
Adulting Tips for Everyone:
- Lead with Love. Just because God says so. Oh! and because it works.
- Choose your best thoughts. If you are listening to a voice that condemns someone else, it’s most likely an exaggeration. If it is a true threat, God is capable of providing an escape.
- Communicate honestly. Even if it hurts you, but not if it hurts others.
- Respect. Because we can’t move forward without it.
- Find a mediator. In a sticky situation, find your Jonathan.
- Be authentic. No one in any age group likes a phony.
- Honor each others’ best means of communication: digital or face-to-face. Be brief and above all else, be kind.
- On the days you just can’t adult, wear this T-shirt. At least give a warning to the peeps in your circle!
Are there any other observations you have made about generations that you’d like to to hear about? I’m all over it! Just ask!