My grandgirls (age 10 and 7) were here for Easter week. Great fun and many laughs. And some moments of shaking my head and wondering if these gorgeous, brilliant, athletic, sensitive and caring girls (I did mention they were MY granddaughters right?) were growing up in a wildly paced technological world I would never understand. A world that could warp their values and twist their minds in some way leaving them totally materialistic, often without a moral core, confused, over stimulated and indifferent to everyone but themselves. Hmm, do you ever think these crazy thoughts about the current youngest generation? Sure you do. Maybe it’s the Tang and Tab we drank, the Tareyton’s we smoked, the Beatles and Stones we listened to or the free love and/or non-medicinal marijuana we shared that has made us wary of today’s mysterious culture.
I got up one morning last week and both girls were intently playing with their Kindle Fire tablets. They were so quiet I was partly thrilled (I remember being quiet as a child – am I just delusional or were we actually half as noisy?) and partly worried as I realized I had no, yes, no control over what they were watching. Or, what they were thinking or evolving into based on what they were watching. After Reagan noticed me she was anxious to show me a “show” on YouTube she really likes – Miranda Sings, a sort of Pee Wee Herman for the current 4th grade set. It was rather odd to say the least – in a sort of young tween age gross, disgusting sense. This quick look into today’s girls’ world started my serious reflection on how I could counter some of these new cultural influences.
Here are my conclusions:
- I am right that I have little idea what is going on in my granddaughters world in terms of fashion, TV, media, nature of the culture and most things they interact with and observe daily
- This is not the end of the world
- The reality is, the people our children and grandchildren become are only partially impacted by the culture they experience. They are MORE, MUCH MORE, influenced by the homes, parents, and family (including us) that surround them and interact with them as they grow up
- We remember mainly standard things our parents said frequently – which included these and their variations:
- Why are you heating the outdoors? Close the door
- We walked x miles to school/church etc. with bad shoes/light shoes/no boots
- If that is what the teacher/the Rabbi/Father John/Reverend Bob or the librarian said, then that is what you are going to do!
- Don’t have such a swelled head
- And their favorite as we grew to be teens and young women: why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?!?
- Likely our grandchildren will remember the new equivalent of those messages said by our children to them, including these and their variations:
- Believe in yourself
- You are wonderful and deserve the best
- Stop doing that or eating that – it will result in something awful that the government should ban
- We don’t do that in this house
- Time out/inside voice/STOP
- Our grandchildren will likely NOT remember much of anything we say – BUT, and here is the BIG INSIGHT for this fabulous grandmother:
- They will observe and mimic the things we say that are funny and unique. I expect Reagan and Morgan to talk with a banana in their ear while having breakfast with their children or grandchildren just like I did. As well as call every insect and animal Mr. or Miss whatever – Mr. Ant, Miss Bear, Mr. Chip, Miss Fish – they already do
- They will observe and worry or not about someday getting older based on how we are handling it right now – they are already telling our daughter they want her to be an “active” grandma like me
- They will understand love, money, success, generosity, kindness, intellectual curiosity and honesty based on what we DO with/to and around our children and them
Since this analysis, I am not nearly as worried about saving my grandchildren from the culture anymore. I work extremely hard on modeling values I want them to incorporate in themselves. I do not lecture or advise. I have few if any opinions and respect the boundaries around them and their parents who they see I love dearly.
“Shit”, I said after doing something not quite right in the kitchen. Morgan and Reagan reminded me of two things. First, I said a bad word (damn they listen don’t they?) and “it’s OK grandma, we love your meatballs.” Where did they get that from?
Don’t worry about YouTube. They’ll be fine.