let he who is without offspring throw the first soccer parent

Over time, even though we are separated by an easy 100 mile drive, the relationship with my sister has fallen into a far distant second place behind her relationship with her children. We get along very well when we are together but that’s the problem. I can’t remember the last time my wife and I were able to socialize with my sister and her husband as adults without having to first and foremost accommodate or make room for her kids in the process. It seems every time I stopped in for a visit, my sister wasn’t able to spend much one-on-one time with me, her only sibling. The main reason was having to satisfy the needs of her children.(teenage daughter & son) Driving them here and there, hosting/attending child related school/church/sport/music functions, etc. My sister and her husband have managed to raise two inquisitive, intelligent, talented kids, but did it come at a cost?

I have long suspected that the dynamics of family life have changed in the thirty plus years since I was a child, but not having kids of my own to raise there wasn’t any first hand experience to drawn on. Then I read John Rosemond’s weekly column in today’s Charlotte Observer, and I believe his theories lend credence to my feelings. John states that at one time marriage was primarily about the husband/wife relationship followed by the parent/child relationship. John claims parents are acting exclusively these days as mother/father and letting everything else take a back seat. Moms are now married to their kids. John goes into the details about the dangers in all this and warns what will happen in the future.

But we won’t know until these kids grow up and raise their own families. If I ever end up in a retirement home (shudder), I hope they have a “no visitor under 65” rule. Kids. Hmph.


About Marcus

Who me? Introverted, neurotic, self-absorbed, increasingly cynical observer of human nature and part time social critic in hiding. Most of my life spent avoiding growing up. The naive idealistic passions of youth have evolved into the eclectic eccentricities of adulthood. Northeast Florida small-town native, related to people I can't relate to. Simultaneously my own best friend and worst enemy. Politically and spiritually unaffiliated, my personal ideologies put me all over the map or off it completely.
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6 Responses to let he who is without offspring throw the first soccer parent

  1. mary919 says:

    John assumes that everything else is the same as it was in the 1950’s and that only the child/parent relationship has changed. John is an ass.
    Back when women could be “house-wives” rather than “stay-at-home-moms” ALL women were home when their children came home from school and could manage their children’s lives and their housework before the men had to witness such ugliness.
    Now women are not only not home in time to corral their children into complacency before His Majesty returns to the castle, but they also expect His Majesty to participate in the childcare and household tasks. Imagine that.
    If a woman has to choose between spending time with her children and spending time with her husband, it simply means that he is not doing his job as husband and father– as well as living in the past.
    Did your sister’s childrearing come at a cost? A cost to you because you can’t have her to yourself anymore?? POOR BABY!! I’m sure she doesn’t consider her children having “cost” her anything she hasn’t been “paid” back tenfold. It’s really too bad that you think being an uncle cost you more than you can afford, but before you decide that it’s cost her marriage too much you need to ask the children’s father if he’d give them up to have his marriage back the way it was before they were born.
    There– you wondered what someone might think if they found you doing a random search– there’s your answer.
    – Mary (married 19 yrs, 1 child)

    • marcsuttle says:

      Sometimes I feel my self-centered and selfish attitude makes me the perfect poster boy for the “me” generation. However, I still hold onto the belief that “family matters” at any cost. You can’t go to Best Buy, Wal-mart or Belk and buy yourself a new family. There is an expected give and take required of all members. The only way out is to die. In my case there are no grudges, ill-will or feuds between members so when “it” fails to materialize I question why. As I grew into adulthood I slowly watched as relationships changed. Couples who dated or “went steady” distanced themselves from the rest of the “old gang” who were unattached. In a group of married couples, having kids was the quickest way to make a couple disappear. Even my sister’s husband, who I get along well with, commented in amazement one day when all of a sudden, co-workers he had known for years and exchanged nothing more than cordial greetings whenever they met at work, were all over him and started to treat him as a special member of their gang when word got out he was an expectant father.
      As a kid, I was frequently carried by my parents (up until my late teens) to visit various aunts/uncles or sat in our house as they visited us. (between my father & mother there were 14 brothers and sisters) Looking back on it now, as many of them are dead, I wish we had spent more time together. But I don’t think for a moment they did any of it for me, they simply enjoyed each other’s company and took the time to do so.
      Not that the world is in any danger of me raising kids, but as I’ve read John Rosemond columns over the years, I always agree with him. Does that make me an ass? (my sister was the person who first told me about John)

      • mary919 says:

        Well most of us out here being the lousy parents also sat invisibly by as our parents visited their siblings– and grew up to be the sort of parents that we are. It’s not some sick conspiracy thrust upon us by an unseen force– it’s how we have chosen to parent.
        I actually do understand where you’re coming from and feel it some myself– our parents generation was all about THE PARENTS and then as soon as we started having children it became all about THE KIDS. It was never about US. When I was doing the really exciting stuff– college, travel, career– my mother had just gotten her nest empty and was doing the same. And it was so much more interesting and exciting that she was doing it because she was older & not the norm.
        I kept waiting for my crowd to begin the cocktail party/bridge club/gourmet club attending animals that my parents had been in their 30s & 40s (and still ARE)– but it just didn’t happen. We went straight from college to Mommy & Me and never looked back.
        But still– we chose to do it that way. Maybe we thought that since our parents were the center of the universe when we were young that WE would become the center of the universe when our kids were young. And then it turned out that we simply didn’t know how to be the center of the universe.
        In other words– those parents who knew The Right Way To Parent and maintain their adult relationships raised a generation of adults who don’t know how. If they were such wonderful parents why didn’t we all turn out better?
        I haven’t read enough of you to know if you are an ass or not. My first impression is not… but I’ll let you know 🙂

      • marcsuttle says:

        Did the (typically)larger families of my parents’ generation result in less individual attention on them as kids? I’ve heard stories of the older kids being(somewhat) responsible for the care and feeding of their younger siblings. I would never describe either of my parents as “well-read”, even though both led successful middle-class lives. So, I often wonder where they learned their parenting skills. The only answer I have is what they witnessed growing up. The only thing I learned about parenting is I didn’t want kids. Hmmm.

  2. lullabypit says:

    Read Howe and Strauss’ books on Xers (13th Gen) and Millennials (Millennials Rising) and you’ll get a sense for why this is happening. Millennials are, unline the last gen or two, precious in the eyes of their parents, whereas X was the least wanted (most aborted, for instance) gen in history. VERY different set of circumstances, and it all meshes nicely with what you’re talking about here.

    • marcsuttle says:

      Re: genX
      I’ve sometimes thought that because of the family structure and how children from the ’40 thru ’60s were left more or less to develop on their own, the ideals they developed, pushed and fought for were more “altruistic” than later generations. (sounds like a topic for generationation)

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