Sage Advice: Parents Socializing with Kids in Tow
This modern phenomenon seems befuddling
Dear Amy: When I was growing up, I never saw my parents or their friends socialize along with their children.
My parents always had friends their own age, and so did the children.
In the last 30 to 40 years, I have watched my siblings, nieces and nephews, and even my friends socializing with their children.
They have even brought their young children to parties where there would be a lot of bad behavior going on.
I don’t understand this phenomenon. Is it because it makes them feel younger, or was there some kind of loneliness in their youth?
What could they possibly talk about with these kids, having such an age difference?
Dear Curious: It is safe to say that parents did a lot of things when you were growing up that they don’t do now (my father used to send me to the store on my bike to buy his cigarettes).
When you were growing up, the majority of households had one parent who was more or less a full-time parent. This parent spent a lot of time with the children, and so when there was an opportunity to spend time with adults, they hired a babysitter.
A recent (pre-pandemic) finding from the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in American households with married parents, 64 percent of these families have both parents who are employed.
Parents now seem to have integrated their children more into their adult lives, and are also much more engaged in the lives of their children than were parents in previous generations. (Did your folks attend your school events?)
A higher proportion of parents are in single-parent working households now. These parents include their children in adult activities sometimes out of guilt, and sometimes necessity.
Many parents don’t feel comfortable leaving the children with a babysitter, unless the person is a family member.
Childcare is expensive, and hard to come by. Fewer teenagers babysit (perhaps because they are all at cocktail parties with their parents).
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
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