September 7, 2004


Generation X parents outshine Baby Boomers: Group called slackers embraces family (Laura DeMarco, September 06, 2004, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

[G]eneration 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. [...]

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."

If only it hadn't been for that one permanently infantilized cohort for which most of the blame must go to the putative "Greatest Generation."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2004 2:10 PM

Alas, the Greatest Generation raised the Whinniest Generation.*

*Not every boomer is a whiner, so it isn't necessarily aimed at you, however, if the shoe fits...;)

Posted by: Mikey at September 7, 2004 2:18 PM

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Although everyone painted my generation as a bunch of blong making slackers, some of us noticed that we tended to be much more conservative than our parents were, particularly in issues like the family.

Another reason why I hate Boomers with a white-hot anger. Not content with screwing themselves up, they then said we'd be worse.

Posted by: Steve Martinovich at September 7, 2004 2:37 PM

I was born in 1973, so I was smack dab in the middle of Gen-X. My folks met when they were captains in the Air Force (mom was a nurse) so nobody is going to accuse them of being permissive hippies. (dyed-in-the-wool Kennedy Democrats, sure, but hippies never) But a lot of the people I know around my age say that having their hippie parents try to be their "best friends" was a terrible experience. "I needed a mother, not a friend," is the way it usually goes. And now that these people are having kids, they're making a conscious effort to be parents first, and best friends a distant 4th or 5th. For all the times as a kid that I griped about my parents' autocratic tendancies I have to say, that it did me a world of good.

Posted by: Governor Breck at September 7, 2004 2:37 PM

I was born in 1964 and have always seen the 60s as a party to which I was not invited but for which I am being stuck with the bill.

Posted by: Bart at September 7, 2004 2:46 PM

Be thankful. You didn't have to live through the pile of garbage left behind when the party you could see but didn't attend was over, either. (A pile also known as the '70s.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 7, 2004 3:38 PM

Born in '73 myself, have been conservative and
moving ever rightward ever sense. The culture has been crap since at least 1920.

Posted by: J.H. at September 7, 2004 5:02 PM

Seems like this has to be closely related to the Roe Effect as well.

Posted by: Roy Jacobsen at September 7, 2004 5:03 PM

Doesn't this article bear out Strauss & Howe's generational analysis of American society?

According to them, the Gen-Xers come from the same point in their four-generation cycle as the between-the-wars "Lost Generation" that provided the middle-level leadership and stability who weathered the Great Depression and shaped the Greatest Generation.

Posted by: Ken at September 7, 2004 5:06 PM

To all you Gen Xers out there, I'd say don't sweat the derogatory comments -- the early-year Baby Boomers were making the same kinds of remarks about the later boomers by the end of the 1970s because we were apolitical, didn't like the same music and didn't listen and follow everything they told us about culture in general. But the demographers already had stuck the younger boomers with them, so all they could do is whine about their complaints in general until a new demo came along they could deride as a seperate group.

Posted by: John at September 7, 2004 6:41 PM

I'm one of those "Late-period Baby Boomers". Some generation-analysis types group us into a separate transition generation ("Generation Jones", from the website of the same name) because we combine characteristics of both Boomers and Gen-Xers into a transition.

"Hey, Ken, why are you so down on Baby Boomers? You're one of them."

"That doesn't mean I have to like it. Because of my age, I keep getting lumped in with the biggest batch of perpetual-adolescent arrested-development cases in 100 years."

Posted by: Ken at September 7, 2004 8:18 PM

I was born in 1971 to early boomers. I hope that the article is right in what it implies. Of course "a lot of gen X'rs" means nothing. A lot of baby boom parents had the same qualities (except for the stay at home dad thing).

My boomer parents didn't try to be our best friends - no way to do so and still get all six of us dressed and into the station wagon in time for church.

Posted by: Jason Johnson at September 7, 2004 11:40 PM

I want to know who is reponsible for "rap"?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at September 7, 2004 11:48 PM

Born in '79.

Does that make me the youngest here?

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at September 8, 2004 7:43 AM




No, The Wife is eternally young.

Posted by: oj at September 8, 2004 8:34 AM

Perhaps, I am the youngest. I was born in 1979 too.

Posted by: Vince at September 9, 2004 3:02 PM