By Morgan Culp
Thinking about family and your upbringing, many people will feel mixed emotions. Happy times surrounded by loved ones, maybe grieving a loss, making and breaking friendships. There are so many things that shape your future as you grow up and the average American childhood has shifted and morphed to become something new as years go on with a strengthening generational divide.
I was raised to appreciate and understand the value of family and cherishing each moment we have together before it’s gone. I am blessed to still have both of my parents, my grandmothers, and my great-grandmother. I took this opportunity to spend some meaningful time together and reminisce on their childhoods while reflecting back onto my own upbringing to see if we are really all that different.
“I was outdoors all of the time,” my mother, Carey Culp, told me. She is defined by The Center for Generational Kinetics as a member of Generation X—people born between 1965 and 1976. “Family camping trips are what I always looked forward to for the summer,” Mom told me. “I got to spend days swimming at the campground pool with all of my cousins, those are some of my favorite memories.”
My mom grew up all over the place, she moved seven times as a child and transferred to seven different schools. Although it doesn’t sound easy, she said it was all worth it.
“I got the opportunity to learn how to talk to people and meet new friends everywhere that I started over,” Mom said. “I love change, so it was wonderful for me, I get bored very easily with the same old same old.”
According to Harvard Business Review, the issue with generational differences is not what opinions differ, it’s the action of thinking these are huge differences that affects our behavior.
“I really just don’t understand the younger generations sometime,” my grandma, Phyllis Huffman, told me. “Dancing was the thing we used to do as kids and it was so great, but dancing nowadays isn’t anything like that.”
My grandma is a member of the Baby Boomer generation—born between the years of 1946 and 1964. She remembers people starting to own televisions, cars and phones when she was quite young. Nowadays, she has grown to love technology but feels it is on the road of becoming too intrusive.
“I grew up out on a farm in the middle of nowhere,” my great-grandmother, Orpha Kreamer, told me. “My mother never wanted us to get lonely, so I am one of eleven kids.”
My great grandma—who also goes by ‘Old Nan’—at 96 years old is a member of the Silent Generation, a group born between 1925 and 1945. She has lived through so many world and life events, and says COVID-19 is just one of the many things that life throws at each generation. For her growing up, it was living through wars, bombings, and food shortages.
Thinking back on my childhood, I am so thankful to grow up in a loving and supportive environment. My main focus was school when I was growing up. My goal was to get into college and excel in all of my coursework. I am a first-generation college student. My parents never had the opportunity to go to college and they made it their goal to be able to send me to where I wanted to go. I always hear from them how times have changed, and college was never as big of a deal for them as it is for kids now.
I think each generation has its own focus. Times have shifted from preparing men for hard manual labor while their wives stayed home caring for the children like when my grandparents were young.
Now, generations have become more focused on intellect and excelling in new fields that involve evolving technology. Overall, I don’t think anyone has the right to put down another generation for being “lazy,” “uninformed,” or “not with the times.” Each generation grew to adapt to their circumstances and what was important to advancement at that time.
I think it is so important to listen and try to understand someone that might be a little older or younger than you, because you never know their circumstances, and you were not raised exactly the same.