The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Aug 022010

This piece in the WP by the “unconditional parenting” guru Alfie Kohn does attack the Twenge thesis.  But it doesn’t put any other thesis in its place, except for the suggestion that we know very little about changes in child raising over time and the implication that nothing much ever happens generationally.  But if this were true, then the substantive criticisms leveled by older people against youth would always be the same.  And of course they are not the same.  Today’s Millennial (born 1982-200?) are put down for being overly sheltered and helicopter-mommed.  But no one was saying that back in the 1970s and 1980s.  They were saying the reverse: That parents were spending no time with kids and letting them grow up on their own, producing a generation of undersocialized savages.  Back then, child psychologists and social policy experts pleaded for more parental involvement.

btw, we quoted heavily from the 1911 Atlantic Monthly letter exchange between the “older” and “younger” generations in our Atlantic cover story back in 1992.  The exchange sounded very much like conversations between Boomer (born 1943-1960) and Generation X (born 1961-1981) back in the mid-1990s… but nothing like exchanges between Xers and Millennials today.

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