Grerp has a powerful post up titled Thoughts on The Fourth Turning, part 2: Gen X’s childhood where she describes how the social changes ushered in by previous generations impacted Gen X.
The kids in Gen X experienced family breakdown, then, because their parents flaked, because they put themselves first, because the kids in our generation weren’t “worth the parental sacrifice of prolonging an unhappy marriage.”
Wow. Thanks. The adults around us preferred to deal with the divorce epidemic by producing after-school specials and writing stuff like It’s Not the End of the World rather than pressure Silent and Boomer parents to stick it out for the kids.
But anyone who has been to even the first day of
Feminist Academy a major university knows that whenever one is confronted with negative outcomes from feminism there is only one logical argument:
Why do you care?
When overwhelmed by facts or logic, challenge why the other person even has a right to care about the negative outcomes of feminism. Ideally, do this in such a way as to suggest they are somehow defective as a person for caring about anything but what women want. And by women, they of course mean feminists.
Grerp preemptively answers that question:
And you may ask me, “grerp, why are you so angry about this? Your parents stayed together. You weren’t a child of divorce.” And that would be true. My parents didn’t divorce, and I had a stable, protected childhood. But my friends had parents who divorced and went through that nightmare in front of me. What do you say to someone you know and care about when their parents pancake? ”Gee, I’m sorry your family is toast, and you only see your dad every other weekend, and your new stepmother treats you like an interloper?” ”I’m sorry your mom decided having a new boyfriend was more important than seeing you every day?” One of my friends crashed and burned in college over her parents’ divorce, and she was 20 and not even living at home any more. What can you say when you watch someone’s family fracture and you see your friend mourn it while being told nothing truly terrible happened? It happens all the time, after all.
My teachers got divorced. The guidance counselor at my middle school got divorced and then killed himself. He had lived in my neighborhood, three doors down. It says something when the person who is hired to shepherd the youth into making better decisions decides checking out permanently is better than staying around for his young daughter.
Her point is so painfully obvious that it is hard to understand why it needed to be said. And yet it did. Who reading this blog of any generation hasn’t watched in horror as kids suffered in unspeakable ways because their parents couldn’t get their act together?
I don’t think the difference between those who care and those who mostly don’t is having witnessed the misery of the children impacted by these changes. I think instead the difference is who the person primarily identifies with, and therefore where the bulk of their empathy lies. Many people identify more with flaky adults than innocent children. I know that is harsh, but when all is said and done, isn’t it true?
I also think the difference is whether one was invested in the changes before witnessing the pain they caused. If you literally or figuratively marched for the cause, or if you at least liked the idea on paper, I think it makes it much harder to accept what the true results were. No one wants to feel responsible for causing the suffering of millions of children.
I think this is the real distinction between GenX and previous generations on issues like divorce, to the extent that the divide is in fact generational. Those who first witnessed men or women staying in visibly bad marriages for the sake of their children must have asked “how much worse would it be if they simply divorced”. Somewhere along the way for most I suspect this empathy morphed into a sort of pre rationalization for their own potential bad behavior. What if I’m unhappy in a few years? What if I find a better deal. I shouldn’t be forced to suffer, should I? I strongly suspect that men and women each secretly thought that by ushering in the sexual revolution and the divorce revolution that they (and only they) would be able to have their cake and eat it too.
So when the worlds of kids around them started falling apart, they had a psychological choice. Admit that they were wrong and likely even had less than pure motives, or rationalize it all away as entirely unavoidable and not that big a deal anyway.