August 10, 2007

Someone Needs To Slap Some Sense Into This 'Gen X' Person

I still remember the first time I posted something on a Saturday night--and another dad commented on it like half an hour later--and being like, dude, this is it: I'm never going to a party without a Moon Bounce ever again.

But then last night, I realized the upside: I haven't had to extricate myself from any awkward conversations with batshit crazy, self-hating, upper-class hippies expounding their convoluted, data- and-logic-free, internally contradictory, grand generational theories of capitalist parenting. Instead, now I get to read them on the web!

...instead of wearing Candies and Vidal Sassoon jeans to increase their social clout, they now purchase too-cool-for-school baby gear, hoping for the same result. "During the formative years of today's parents, family, religion and government programs were very weak. They had no support systems," demographer Ann Fishman points out. "And as a result, we have these young parents who want a strong family, love their kids, want to give them everything, but they don't know it doesn't mean stuff."

Instead of lobbying for a more family friendly environment, Gen X parents hit the stores, despite the fact that they carry 78 percent more debt than Baby Boomers did at the same age. But a cashmere sweater set for a newborn infant can't hide the fact that, in the United States, more than one in five children live in poverty. No $2,000 designer crib can make up for the fact we guarantee the elderly medical care, but not their children or grandchildren.

Oh, I know! Those people buying cashmere baby sweaters instead of food and $2000 cribs instead of insurance are horrible parents!

Also, I liked it better when Helaine Olen was schooling us on the importance of propriety and discretion by writing a giant article in the New York Times about reading her nanny's blog.

Spend, Spend, Spend: The New Model for Parenting [ which apparently became The Lefty Onion when I wasn't looking, via dt reader MCB]


Wow, that's like an 8 year olds compare and contrast writing assignment. "On the one hand, candy tastes good, on the other carrots are orange."

[even better are the comments, which ties parenting-by-spending to the inevitable civil war in Iraq. Talk about connecting the dots... -ed.]

The article is badly written.

Is the author trying to say is that the gap between rich and poor is too wide? I don't think most people would argue with that.

I doubt there are too many parents bankrupting themselves just to get baby gear.

On the other hand, shouldn't parents -- with first hand knowledge of how fragile life is -- be at least as concerned with social justice and environmentalism as they are with design?

And probably to a greater extent than our parents, your average 35-year-old "upper class hippie" (like me and every other reader of DT) probably is concerned with these issues. But we're sure as hell not doing enough on the whole.

I'm not exactly a model of sustainability myself. I just wouldn't call the author "batshit-crazy" for badly writing about serious issues.

[I guess I see bad writing AND bad thinking, none of which does the various serious issues she cites any favors at all. Ignore the data-free and historically inaccurate parts, or the moral implications of elective Wal-Mart shopping; she treats a media/advertising construct--Gen X--as a homogenous, describable, moral person, which strikes me as delusional. The rich-poor gap and the health care/poverty issues she brings up are real, but the immoral "Gen X'er" who decides to buy a Coach bag instead of lifting a single mom out of poverty is a feeble fiction. She can be metaphorical if she wants, but I don't see that as her intention at all. -ed.]

When my son was born, I was overcome by a feeling that I really do want to make the world a better place for him. People pissing on my street, urban trash, and mean people all became less tolerable to me. While my stomach used to mearly turn over when I read about child abuse, I now burst into tears. I wouldn't say that I self-hate, or am bat-shit crazy, but I do question how people feel they are benefitting their infant's future by buying $1500 mahogany cribs, $80 shoes, $400 mini George Nelson chairs, and $20 swim lessons. I love this stuff too, but c'mon, why not buy $40 shoes and donate $40 to the library or to an after school program like Big Brother and Big Sisters? Or, buy clothes from child-conscious companies like Tea Collection rather than Puma? You can ask me how I know that people aren't doing those sorts of things, and I have to admit that I can only guess this to be the case based on observations and experiences like when my friend recently statement that it's "so difficult trying to get by with a baby" while looking at me through her Christian Dior sunglasses.

I can can barely afford to buy my son $40 shoes, so instead of donating money, I actively participate in neighborhood improvement activities, and have been making an effort to be more "green." I'm not saying it makes me a better person relative to others, but I do know that it makes me feel like a better person compared to the pre-kid me, and I suspect really is making the world a slightly better place.

helzenkorf, I couldn't have said it better myself.

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