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Category: Relationships / Topics: Change Demographics Family Trends

Family Fantasies

by Dan Seagren

Posted: January 26, 2014

If fantasies are illusions, let's talk about families facing modernity…

If fantasies are illusions, let’s talk about families facing modernity. Recently I read that suburbia and exurbia (further out suburbs) have not grown in the past couple of years. The growth is in the cities. Why? Many reasons not excluding lawn care and shoveling snow, necessity to drive almost anywhere, no front porches for a neighborhood rendezvous. Long commutes, heavy traffic and so on.

I walked to grade school and high school where I rode my bike on occasion. We had one car with five kids. And managed quite well. And one phone, one radio (no TV) and never dreamed about smartfones or computers or power mowers or color TV ever existing. But ice cream cones were a nickel, gas 10-20 cents a gallon and never bounced up and down like a yo yo. We had Bible verse competitions: who could find and read a verse the quickest but no more for me. I have real trouble turning pages nowadays.

I can remember when parents brought their little ones to a church nursery Sunday mornings and then went home to enjoy the free baby sitting. I also remember having to attend Sunday School 52 Sundays per year, no exceptions, for rewards. I made it to nine years once, and four years another time. Tough call then.

Many if not most families ate meals together, carried lunch to school and never worried about a balanced diet. I also sneakily used my lunch milk allowance for a candy bar once in awhile and being ten and twelve years older than my three siblings, I got a lot of baby sitting in which never was a chore, always a delight. My year-younger sister and I became real buddies eventually in due time.

Now, with an eye on the news I can hardly remember a divorce among my friends’ families or in my neighborhood. I went through about nine years of college and grad school ending with no debt and no parental assistance enhanced by all kinds of part-time jobs starting at 40 cents an hour after high school. At times three part time jobs took a toll on my grades I suppose but it was worth it. No?

Here I am, an octogenarian plus with no bitter memories of my past. No accolades or awards, no athletic records, no scholarships and no regrets. But as I look around today at broken families, kids without dads and moms burdened with jobs, and peering at high school parking lots filled with student cars and nary a bike in sight, with prospects of potential astronomical student debt looming on the horizon, I’d hardly trade my youth for a scholarship enhanced by a hot rod, a smartfone, ipad and prepaid debit cards.

But then, youngsters today wouldn’t trade their lives for one like mine, would they?

Dan Seagren is an active retiree whose writings reflect his life as a Pastor, author of several books, and service as a Chaplain in a Covenant Retirement Community.

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Posted: January 26, 2014

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