The Perfect Generation

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I read another Facebook post along the lines of “Like this if you grew up in a time when parents didn’t find it necessary to spend time with their kids, everybody only ever ate gruel, and the government didn’t tell people they had to wear seat belts, and you turned out just fine.”

I assume that these little passive aggressive pieces of wisdom are supposed to show that anybody who believes in anything crazy like scientific research, or longitudinal studies, should just have a long hard think about kids today.

Aside from the arrogance of assuming that you are the pinnacle of human development, I don’t understand why anybody would wish that their generation never be bested. Why would you wish for anything other than an ongoing improvement of humanity?

Look at the world around you, people! I sure hope that this isn’t the best we can do.

That’s not to say that I don’t think there have been some exceptional generations before, as well as exceptional people within those exceptional generations. I have known some of those people personally. I have also read about some of those people. The wit of Oscar Wilde. The selfless dedication of Florence Nightingale. The inspired genius of whoever thought of roasting cocoa beans.

I also think that my generation is pretty great. There are plenty of people around today who are doing whatever they can to make the world a better place, be it locally or globally. And I think that my kids are pretty great. My husband and I are doing our best to make sure that they reach their full potential in all aspects of their lives.

Despite this, I sincerely hope that each new generation is the greatest generation. I hope that the next generation is smarter, healthier, happier, and better at fixing up all the problems caused by the generations that came before.

I hope that all of the really intelligent people who have dedicated their life to studying areas like the brain, nutrition, and childhood development have been able to come up with useful recommendations to help make this the case.

Moreover, I hope that if in twenty years some research comes out that shows that some aspect of my parenting was not ideal, I don’t get all defensive about how I was raised or how I raised my children, because look I’m great and they’re even better.

I hope that I am able to be grateful that science is continuing to make breakthroughs in order that we, as a collective humanity, are able to learn and and change and grow.

And I hope that if we do one day reach perfection, that the perfect generation is not so snarky on Facebook.

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18 thoughts on “The Perfect Generation

  1. I think parenting is getting harder – so much information, so much distraction, so many competing ideas. I admire parents that are doing their best and I firmly believe that good parenting is rewarded by producing decent human beings. Ignore the snarky comments people put up on fb – they are just trying to be funny (and failing by the sound of things!)
    Leanne@crestingthehill recently posted…how do you define abundance?My Profile

    1. Yes you’re right. After I had my little rant it did occur to me that I was probably just missing the tone… one of the problems of not communicating face to face! Next time I’ll ask them to include a useful emoji to clear things up 🙂

  2. Ah, the internet is such a good place for sharing snippits of ‘wisdom’ like that isnt it. I a have also seen the oposite view of that on Facebook recently “Im afraid of a world run by people who ignore years of research in favour of the argument 5hat I turned out ok”. I think these memes are deliberately designed to inflame arguments. The sensible approach lies somewhere between the two. Development and innovation are often good things. Tried and tested methods are often good things. Research is the tool for measuring the benifits of both old and new approaches to child raising.
    Thank you for linking up, Tracey xx #abitofeverything
    Tracey Abrahams recently posted…A Bit Of Everything Linky – Week #2My Profile

    1. You’re right of course. Learning from experience (both personal and shared) is infinitely useful. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the world of blogging – always new ideas to be learned! Thanks for hosting.

      1. Don’t hate me, but I am one of those people you are speaking of! To sum it up, I did a blog post… http://www.messedupmum.com/2015/10/well-i-turned-out-ok.html.
        I was feeling a little bruised by the comment mentioned because people were making assumptions that because I do it how my mum did it, it will mean I am going to hit my son. Why this assumption is made I’ve no idea, my mum never hit me and I felt a little offended by the assumption that she did!
        While I’m saying that, I can also see your point. Yes, It’s nice to improve, we should all want to improve. But I think it’s no-ones place to judge whether someone else is doing the right or wrong thing.
        Great post though! Ally #abitofeverything xx
        Ally Messed Up Mum recently posted…Having a fallout with my toddler…My Profile

        1. I like your post and I agree with your sentiments on the value of experience. And I certainly didn’t mean to imply that people who have this view necessarily hit their children. Actually I wasn’t even thinking of that at all when I wrote this. The post that I saw on Facebook that specifically inspired this was actually about nutrition (although there are many that vary on the same theme). I’m just really big on research based evidence and think that it’s amazing that we live in a time where we can have such amazing insights into how the brain works and develops, and that if we open ourselves to learning rather than sticking rigidly to old ways because we’re “ok” we will all be better off for it. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  3. Thank you!! Seriously, those posts on Facebook annoy me so much. As do the comments I’ve had when people have seen my kids are in extended rear facing car seats about how in their day they, ‘didn’t even have seat belts.’

    I hope I don’t take any change in advice/guidelines etc. as a criticism of my parenting! In fact, I know I won’t because I already found out after I used a certain kind of baby carrier with my first that it was actually bad for his hips. So, with my second I made sure I didn’t use that carrier (instead of ranting about guidelines changing on Facebook).

    #abitofeverything
    Lady Nym recently posted…So…What *Is* Autism?My Profile

    1. Ha, yes I encountered a particularly troubling group of teens when I was out for a walk last night. Made me rethink this whole post!

  4. I really enjoyed this post and fully agree with your point. Yes I do look back at some of the questionable practices that were around when we were children, but it doesn’t make me think “I’m not bad so I’ll just do the same”. It does make me strive to offer a better childhood to my kids wherever I can, but then I’m sure I’ll be getting other bits wrong that I just haven’t considered. I think our parents did the best they could with the knowledge, resources and support available. I also think that we’re all doing the same right now, we just have different recources and a world of information at our finger tips. This was a really interesting post and will no doubt fire up a few conversations for me over the coming days. Thank you. #abitofeverything x

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment. I think all we can do is our best and that, with some exceptions, all parents want to be the very best parents they can be. We will always be influenced by our own experience, and lean on the wisdom of trusted others. But I also think it’s wonderful that we have access to ever new information.

  5. Interesting and thought provoking post. On the one hand I agree that we must embrace change and certainly learn from the mistakes that have gone before. If we didn’t, we would just stand still. On the other hand, I am also of the belief that sometimes the ‘old-fashioned’ way works. I guess to describe it as such, suggests that it’s wrong. I don’t think that is the case. If we are using parenting as the example, there are some things that I feel will always remain,irrespective of the generation, around values. Then alongside that there are those things that are just plain daft. Thank goodness we are able to put our own slant on these. My favourite has to be the distant family acquaintance that suggested I put my 6 week old baby under the table at a social gathering like it was accepted practice! Lovely to meet you at #abitofeverything Nicky

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. I’ve been really interested to read the comments on this article as they have helped my thinking on the topic to evolve. When I wrote the post it was just a bit of a rant in response to a Facebook post I saw which was suggesting that in someone’s childhood they were allowed to eat and drink as much sugar as they liked without their parents’ intervention and they turned out just fine for it. I’d also seen one about the imposition of wearing seatbelts, and another particularly strange one about parents sitting on the porch smoking and drinking and ignoring their children and look at the children now all grown up and thriving. To be honest, they were all posted by one person so he might have just been making them himself and I fell for the bait. But more generally, as someone who has worked as a researcher myself, I have a respect for recommendations that are evidence-based. I think there is a big problem with people passing themselves off as experts on a topic and giving out advice willy nilly. And with brands commissioning their own research or media reporting on research that is not properly conducted. This leads to there being a huge amount of unhelpful and contradictory advice. It also means that the people who have done the hard yards and are the actual experts find it harder to be heard. When you get to the gold, it’s good to take notice. But I agree with everyone who has been writing that sometimes wisdom and experience and the test of time are the best guides, particularly as you say when it comes to values. At other times one’s own instinct is the best guide. And then there are those times when being under the table at a family gathering is the best place to be – saves you from hearing unsolicited advice! 🙂

      1. There is a rich vein of discussion here isn’t there! I have a post in the making that touches on some of the differences of my childhood compared to my daughters. Bearing in mind, I’m 47 and was born in the East End of London to hard working parents that were children of the war, there are of course going to be differences. I do laugh about the baby under the table comment. We always refer to the woman who said it as ‘the baby under the table’ woman. X
        Nicky Kentisbeer recently posted…Mind the ‘Age’ GapMy Profile

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