The family dynamic has changed a lot since I was 15, or 13, or even 5, which is, strangely enough, the same age as the small people who inhabit our house. You can't miss them, they're the ones making me lose my hair.
Yep. Things have changed a lot.
My parents were the boss, children were to be seen and not heard, and everybody ate their peas whether they liked them or not. (My pea-defying sister once vomited hers over the kitchen table and ended that practice. It became a thing of legend).
Today, parents are more like caretakers. We make sure the house is warm, there's plenty of food on the table and everyone gets to their after-school activities on time. It wouldn't be a bad job if we got paid.
Wait. I think I hear some grumbling.
When it comes to anyone younger than us, there's plenty to grumble about. News reports say young adults don't buy diamonds or lottery tickets. Twentysomethings have stopped buying breakfast cereal. Millennials are killing the Big Mac. (Seriously. Only one in five people 18 to 34 years old have eaten McDonald's signature sandwich, according to Fortune magazine.)
What grumblers don't understand is that all this is OK. Some of the things we've always done are stupid; we needed the change. And we, the parents, every one of us, are to thank.
I'd rather my children invest their money than spend thousands of dollars on diamonds that can accidentally be flushed down a toilet or buy a one-in-25-million chance at winning a jackpot, which is also like flushing diamonds down a toilet.
Until breakfast cereals include bacon and eggs, I agree.
And Big Macs are disgusting. The rest of you four out of five millennials do yourself a solid and continue to eat something else.
Although being caretakers might not be in the latest parenting books, there are plenty of things my wife and I don't do like the old-school parents. Our kids aren't terrified of us. We don't cruise down the highway with a Jack and Coke in our hands, we don't use tobacco, we cheer for the kids at their activities instead of scream, we invest a lot of time in books, and we actively encourage fart jokes.
OK. So, that should be "I" actively encourage fart jokes. I haven't gotten away from everything my parents did.
Just most things.
My wife recently prepared the Preschooler for the snowy outdoors and it took about as long as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin suiting up for their steps onto the lunar surface. I'm surprised the kid could move. However, 15 minutes later, the 5-year-old stepped outside, making her own first prints into the new snow.
Then, like the cat, after only five minutes she wanted to come back inside.
At times like this, my parents would have said something like, “No way in hell can you come inside. You wanted to play outside, so play outside.” This would happen no matter how cold I was or if my lips were frozen.
We let her in. My wife and I would rather spend the extra time with our children than let their lips freeze off any day.
Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.