One Generation, Two Generations, Three Generations, Four . . .

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At the lecture last Friday night, Dr. Kiesling spoke to us about how changes in society have changed ideas about when people become adults and what adulthood means. First, he showed a photo of a family table about one hundred years ago. At the table were grandparents, parents, and children. Dr. Kiesling pointed out that once upon a time young people followed in their parents footsteps. When they grew up, they simply took on the role of a family member of the preceding generation.

Then, he showed us a photo of a car from the 1950s. He pointed out that cars of that era were designed with room for two parents and two or three children but with no room for grandparents. One of the purposes of the cars was to take dad away from home to go to work.

His final illustrations were two photos: one of the original version of The Game of Life® and one of a 2007 version called The Game of Life Twists and Turns®. In the new game, players traveled not in a car with a spouse and children, as in the original game, but on a skateboard alone.

Dr. Kiesling reminded us that adulthood was once a time when people took on family and work responsibilities. Today it has become the point at which people begin to live their lives with freedom and independence.

Dr. Kiesling talked about the modern reality of “driver’s license to marriage license” thinking. He said that young people often leave church when they get their driver’s license and stay mostly away until they return after getting their marriage license, or,  more likely, when they have children. To that description, I would add: “if they return at all.”

The “driver’s license to marriage license” period is now an average of 11 years for young women and 12 years for young men. During this time young people spend their time getting more and more education, exploring a variety of entertainment options, maintaining electronic social networks (some even sleeping with their phones to stay “connected”), and moving from one residence to another.

Here are some of my thoughts about these trends.

Homeschoolers have long known that children do not have to spend time with a lot of peers. Young adults don’t have to do that either.

The truth is that people of all ages really need people of all ages. I just can’t think of a single age group of people who is better off spending most of their time with people their own age.

Parents of any age need their children. Children of any age need their parents. Grandparents need their grandchildren. Grandchildren need their grandparents. And there is no shame in any of this neediness and no need to apologize for it. People once assumed this kind of thinking, but today it is considered unwelcome, strange, or even dysfunctional.

Think of “Sara and Marie” whom I told you about on Monday. The grandmother needed her son, her daughter-in-law, and her grandchildren–and they needed her, too.

Imagine a daycare center with no adults. Imagine an assisted living facility where the residents saw no children–ever.

God knew what He was doing when He put people of different ages into families and into the church.

The Lord bless you from Zion,
And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
Indeed, may you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!
Psalm 128:5-6

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