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Mon Nov 26, 2012, 03:40 PM


What we can learn from our Silent Generation parents...

I've been trying to decode my parents for years. I'm GenX, and they are Silent Gen. Straight out of Mad Men: Mom was a flight attendant in the 60s, before air travel was horrible, and being part of an airline held a certain status. Dad was a cop, in the sixties, in San Francisco, during all of that.

Their code, just as every generation has some code of ethics, was unique. They were able to grow up during the war and depression, thus strengthening them, and come of age in a time of plenty. As far as I can tell, the collective values seemed to be:

1 - Religion. Everybody goes to church. Even if you hate it or don't believe. You just show up and attend Sundays.

2 - Family. The Father is the head of the household. Pure Pater Familias stuff here: children and wife are a form of property. As head, the male makes the important decisions.

3 - Music. Something much more soothing than the Swing music their parents listened to: Percy Faith, Perry Como, etc. You want something to play at parties for the purpose of stimulating conversations.

4 - Parties. Parties were a big part of our parent's lives. They weren't just about drinking, although they did have a lot of that. They were about social gatherings, and pecking orders. One party could get one into the right clubs, the right organizations, etc. When choosing guests, the higher up the pecking order the better.

5 -Outward personality. It was go along to get along. You didn't speak your mind, and after speaking with someone for hours, you still couldn't tell their religion or politics.

6 - Children. Children were to be seen and not heard. You didn't teach them anything yourself, but expected them to figure it out.


So from these values, and from our parents' experiences - what can we learn?

What mistakes can we avoid, and which ones can we utilize?

And - is there something beyond this in the reading of our parents that I am missing?

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Reply What we can learn from our Silent Generation parents... (Original post)
Taverner Nov 2012 OP
struggle4progress Nov 2012 #1
Taverner Nov 2012 #2
frogmarch Nov 2012 #3

Response to Taverner (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 03:58 PM

1. I dunno. My parents were of that generation, but:

My mother and father very visibly made their important decisions together, after discussion. They met in a Baroque choir, so Perry Como and his ilk would have be politely dismissed. They had no interest in knowing the right people or getting into the right clubs, and they studiously ignored pecking orders. "Children should be seen and not heard" was not a philosophy to which my parents subscribed. I was certainly never taught "go along to get along" -- I was taught to speak my mind: if you couldn't tell a person's religion or politics after chatting with that person for hours, that was considered a very boring conversation!

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Response to struggle4progress (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 04:06 PM

2. Goes without saying, not all apply...


But it follows a typical bell curve, with a good need for a high confidence interval

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Response to Taverner (Original post)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 04:25 PM

3. Iím 68 and grew up with the notion that

girls were not good at math Ė at least not as good at math as boys were. I was pretty good at math, but everyone knew that Mother Nature pulled tricks sometimes.

After meals shared with family friends from church, Mom, a college graduate who'd once been a world traveler who loved adventure, cheerfully retired to the kitchen with the other women to wash dishes while the ďmenfolkĒ (except for my dad, who always helped the women clean up) discussed politics and other important topics that womenís brains couldnít grasp - or so it was widely believed. Mom and Dad didn't go to parties. Mom belonged to church clubs and flower clubs, but Dad was a homebody who liked to read Winston Churchill and Russian novels and listen to his classical music records.

Mom was concerned Iíd never find a husband, because men didnít like women who were outspoken, opinionated and came across as being as bright as they were. She taught me to be pretty and sweet and to mind my manners. Dad died when I was quite young, but before he did he told me to never be afraid to think, and to not have getting married as my main goal in life.

I could continue, but thatís enough. Iím starting to have flashbacks from the horrid 50s.

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