June 12, 2014

Are Millennials consciously reversing their sheltered upbringing when they raise kids of their own?

An earlier post looked at the dynamics of parenting styles, where folks who grew up mostly in rising-crime times choose to lock their kids up from the outside world, while these locked-up people themselves, who grew up in falling-crime times, don't see what the harm is in letting their kids lead a more unsupervised life.

We saw this during the last wave of outgoing behavior and communal focus. The Silent Generation, who were locked up by smothering mothers during the cocooning Midcentury, begat the late Boomers and first half of Generation X, who couldn't have enjoyed a less supervised childhood and adolescence. This continued with the second half of Gen X, whose parents were mostly early Boomers — who for their part spent a good deal of childhood in the Dr. Spock climate of the Midcentury.

I was taken aback during an episode of the Real Housewives of Orange County (which I sometimes tune into, for sociological insight), where the daughter of one of the housewives is beginning to raise a family of her own. The housewife Vicki is a late Boomer, the daughter Briana an early Millennial ('87).

Briana has decided to move away from Orange County, way out to Oklahoma, where her money will go a lot farther than it could in southern California. There's Steve Sailer's "affordable family formation" unfolding in clear terms.

Then she added that she wanted to raise her kids where they could run around in the driveway out front, and run off to go play with the other neighborhood kids. She revealed that in the 12 years that she lived in her family's house in Orange County, they'd only known two of their neighbors. The area is white and upper-middle class, so don't bother trying to excuse the helicopter parents there on the basis of dangerous ghetto Mexicans. It's just good old paranoia.

It may be only one data-point, but you can tell when someone is speaking more or less as a representative of their group.

Before, I noted that in the case of Millennials, they feel nostalgia for not having a life as children. Now that they are starting to have kids, this frustrated attempt at nostalgia has developed into a reflection on how deprived they were of social contact outside the home, from birth until college (by which time it's too late to cram 15 years of social maturation into the time you've got). Every generation remembers the negative side of their upbringing more than the positive, and try to correct that when they have kids of their own.

Before long, then, we'll see a reversal of the helicopter parenting trend that began about 25 years ago. Probably not for another five years or so, since the late X-ers are still busy raising kids, and lord knows they remember how dangerous childhood used to be. Who would've guessed that Beavis and Butt-head would become such over-protective fathers?


  1. I wonder how much town-and-gown snobbery contributes to people being less neighbourly. ?Especially pop-sosh majors- no real-world skills that actually impress people in the real world. All they've learned is how to be snotty to Joe Sixpack, that racist sexist homophobe.

  2. I don't know if such snobbery is actually common. Resentment of the educated seems more like a trait of low trust/cocooning times, since such periods are highly conformist. The Boomers and Gen-Xers both were big liberal arts advocates - in fact, the term "slacker" was first coined specifically to refer to Gen-Xers who chose to work a part-time job while pursuing a graduate liberal arts degree(and the term first popped up in the 90s, when communal trust began breaking down). Of course, going to graduate school while working part-time is nigh impossible now.

    I am not saying that people shouldn't work, whatever happened to following your dreams? Now the elites are trying to bully us into working STEM jobs, so that they can continue to craft a technological civilization that requires less and less human interaction.

  3. "y which time it's too late to cram 15 years of social maturation into the time you've got"

    This is debatable, lest we forget that such iconic figures such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Martin Luther King Jr., were from the Silent Generation.

    Now, either some cocooned kids can make up for lost time once the culture becomes outgoing again, or those who are less neurotic get repressed when the crime rate falls, only to rise to prominence once the crime rate rises.

  4. >'I don't know such snobbery is actually common. Resentment of the educated-'

    I don't think Joe resents the educated more. I think the education bubble cranks out armies of 'university graduates' trained to be snobbish about non-PC normal people. Whereas a 1950s non-U college grad who majored in some real subject, with high school Latin remnants, French and German enough to match ex-Corporal Joe who marched through both countries- Joe College wasn't programmed to despise proles. Often managed anyway, of course. Just not formally indoctrinated.


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