People sometimes lament that things have changed. Extended families no longer seem so close. We are no longer so deferential to our elders. One study found that some 10% of adults are estranged from their grown children.
What happened? Some people want to blame technology or a collapse of religion or institutions. Maybe it was bad cultural marketing. Maybe it’s a sign of the end times.
It could also be, you know, people making healthy decisions for themselves. As Agnes De Mille wrote, “Children once respected their parents, were glad to, took pride in the fact and professed their devotions. Now a general disbelief and disrespect between the generations is prevalent. And the young people are in many ways right, alas, because parents are not so honorable as before.”
Some of the shine of the old ways has worn off. Just look at the last fifty years of American history from Watergate to the Clintons, from Iraq to the Financial Crisis to Trump to COVID…to the darkness we see our own loved ones post on Facebook. Of course, family is important. Grandparents are important. But no one should be afraid to draw boundaries, nor should anyone be bullied or guilted into a relationship.
Respect is earned, it is not a right. We need to remember that with our parents, of course, but most importantly we need to remember that with our own kids. If we want to stay in their lives, if we want them to look up to us and spend time with us, we have to be worthy of it. It’s that simple.