After my grandmother died, my mother said something that got me thinking. She said, “I sometimes think to myself, ‘Oh, I have to ask Mom that,’ and I pick up the phone and half dial her number before I remember she’s gone.”
At the funeral last week, my aunt (by marriage) said something similar, She said that my Nana had been a mother to her at a time when she’d needed it the most — when my aunt was learning to be a mother herself. She talked about how much she’d valued my Nana’s advice.
I’ve been thinking about these things because it really highlighted for me the generation gap that is forming between me and my own mother. Although I love her and I love to chat with her on the phone about work or the kids or current events, one thing I don’t turn to her for is advice.
Instead, when I have a question, I ask the internet.
The internet has provided me with an endless, massive peer group and for some reason, I always consider the opinions or personal experiences of people who have access to a computer to carry more weight than those of my own mother. My ideas on parenting and on how children should be raised come mainly from blogs, Babycenter, or websites of parenting magazines.
Granted, my mom has some outdated ideas about motherhood. She’s always preaching that babies should be given a spoonful of rice cereal before bed to help them sleep — at the age of three weeks old. She considers the fact that we haven’t even begun to toilet train Little Miss Sunshine to be a crisis on par with the Middle East. And above all else, she’s really grossed out by breastfeeding — she was horrified when I tried it, and when I was still nursing my babies after six TOTALLY GROSS weeks, she pretty much brought a constant refrain of, “Are you going to be nursing those children through TO UNIVERSITY?”
So we don’t exactly see eye-to-eye, and I’m sure it’s been a disappointment to my mom that she sometimes tries to tell me about things that worked for her, and then I completely ignore her opinion in favour of what I’ve read on the internet.
My thoughts on most matters are shaped by the internet. I’m learning to cook from foodie blogs. I’m planning our trip to Disney by reading the Mom Advice section of their website — not by calling my own mom, who has been there at least three times. I’m deciding how to discipline our kids by reading books about child-rearing; I’m making decisions on their diets and their health by searching the web.
I’m happy with our decisions, too. I feel informed, like I’ve done my research and made the best possible choices. I feel independent, like I’ve got this parenting/running a household thing DOWN, and I can take on anything (as long as my internet connection remains up).
It’s sad, though, that my mom and I don’t have the same mentor/student relationship that, I think, a lot of mother-daughter relationships have taken in the past. There’s just so much information out there now, so many different opinions, that my mother’s voice is just one more in the crowd.
Maybe if she had a blog, I’d listen more.
I’m not sure I’m going to turn over a new leaf here and start turning to my mom for advice on all subjects. But I do think I need to let her in a little bit more…call her a little more often…ask her for her opinion before moving ahead. It’ll bring us one step closer, even though we live far apart.
5 thoughts on “Generation Gap”
I found this post really interesting. I don’t go to my mom for advice, but that is more because of the state of our realtionship then anything else. When I am unsure or looking for help I prefer to turn to people who will be supportive and encouraging of me and I’m never sure that I will get that from her.
The great thing about the Internet is that you can find lots of people with different values and perspectives, including your own.
This is a real thought provoker. Thanks for this. It made me realise that I am the same way. I look to my friends (real life and virtual) for the support I need for parenting and life advice. My mother and I never had a “close” relationshiop. No one in my family does. The “big” talks were always glossed over or completely avoided. I don’t go to my sister either, who has raised three wonderful children. I have a couple of times, but we don’t have a call each other ever week relationship either. It’s interesting how the internet has become surrogate parents and siblings. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, just a different thing. What I am curious about it how we can bring that mentor/student relationship back with our children. That’s the challenge.
My mom is the confident in our family, but if I need Help (with a capital H) I turn to The Man first but will discuss it with my mom. She’s had some really good insights but again she’s from a more conservative (as a opposed to risky in this sense) mind set. You do the safer thing. But sometimes safer isn’t really what’s what…
We don’t even speak to The Man’s mom. Haven’t in years… she’s just too screwed up.
Maybe it’s generational. It may be. But it’s also a very different world than it was when they were raising kids.
What makes me saddest about this (and I also don’t remember EVER asking my mom for adivce on anything) is that I wonder if our kids will be the same way with us when they’re older. Will there be nothing they need us for anymore? Once they earn their own money, have their own families, do the parents become dispensible? A burden? That seems to be the trend these days. Especially as our kids grow up without the example of us turning to our mothers for guidance. Without the grandma being an important figurei in their lives. It makes me sad to think that some day my daughter will think of me as just a silly old woman with nothing left to contribute.
I rarely ask my mom for advice, but mostly it is because she doesn’t offer it much. She raised us in a completely different world. Things rarely translate to today. But I do find myself asking her things like “was I like this as a kid?” or “What did you do when littlesis acted like this”. Maybe it will be the same for you when your children get a bit older.
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