Dear Grandparenting: As a grandparent watching my small and not-so-small grandchildren growing up, I can’t help but reflect back on what I was doing at their age.
Almost every time, my memories involve America’s Great Depression, the big one during the 1930s that really buckled America. Anyone who lived through that can never forget. It was like the end of the world, the worst thing since the Civil War.
It was especially tough on men. They had to be breadwinners. Women weren’t really expected to work, but a man without a job felt like a total failure when he couldn’t provide.
My husband never got over it. He owned a lumber business. He fell behind on his loan and the bank foreclosed. We were going to lose our house, too, before my uncle started making our payments. My husband was grateful but humiliated. He had to pick himself up and start over. Somehow we made it out of that deep hole.
That brings me to my grandchildren. I can’t say they want for much right now. But there are no more free rides. Grandsons and granddaughters will have to earn their living. We live in a challenging economic time, and it’s not getting any better. Odds are my grandchildren are in for their share of doing without; and yours, too. Get my drift? How will this generation handle hard times? Pink, Marshall, Michigan
Dear Pink: America’s more recent Great Depression after the housing bubble burst in 2008 gave families a wake-up call — hard times ahead, and greater global unrest continues to exacerbate uncertainties.
Better buckle up and knuckle down. But did everyone get the message?
Evidently not, according to numerous polls and studies indicating many grandchildren are beset by unrealistic expectations and/or the magical thinking they’re too smart or entitled to ever fall far, much less fail.
Consider what happened when a Florida economics professor asked a class of college sophomores about their conception of the American Dream and the government’s proper role in helping them achieve it. By an overwhelming margin, this class of scholars was of the opinion that government should provide a college education, a job and down payment on a house.
Except that’s not happening, and more special interests keep competing for shrinking available slices of America’s federal budget. We can’t predict the future, but plenty of grandchildren appear due for a rude awakening.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
“Great Granny Gracie” from The Villages, Florida, weighed in with her “guiding principle”:
“It’s not so much what you do for your grandchildren, but what you help them do for themselves that can make a real difference in their lives.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.