Remember that Mike and the Mechanics song “In the Living Years” from 1988? It was a hit when I was just leaving my teenage years behind.
The lyrics of that song include the lines “Every generation, blames the one before. All of their frustrations come beating on your door.”
I heard the song the other day and then the announcer said “This was number 13 on the billboard charts in 1988.”
I know there are times over the years when I have indeed blamed my parents and the generation before me for my own frustrations. I mean, few of us can deny that. It is human nature to try and blame things on somebody else.
The generation before mine was more of a “grin and bear it” society. Everybody worked hard. Nobody shared their feelings much. It was better to pretend that things were going along OK, whether they were or not.
Back in those days, marriage was something you just did. If you had marriage issues, you sucked it up and dealt with it. If you threw in the towel, unless there was abuse or abandonment, you were considered weak.
Your kids were supposed to fit into a certain mold, and if they didn’t, you might be considered a failure as a parent.
Why did this matter? Well, the opinions of your friends, family and townspeople were much more important in the generation before. If your kids didn’t turn out well, you might be embarrassed.
Many from that generation can talk a good game and tell you all of that didn’t matter. But, to most, if they’ll admit it, it did matter.
As I said, those folks didn’t share their feelings much. Feelings were dealt with silence, holding grudges, and sarcasm. Talking behind backs and gossiping was a normal thing to do.
When we look back at the flaws of the generation before us, it’s easy to see why children are screwed up. It’s easy to see why grown kids have trouble with their own families when they start them. It’s easy to blame.
But then again, let’s re-read those flaws I mentioned above. Weren’t they around two or three generations before?
I know we have therapy and sensitive, new-age folks running around now. Everyone is much more in touch with their feelings. We spend a lot of time looking into ourselves. Often, in my opinion, such self-awareness could sometimes be looked at as self-centeredness. We are always wondering how everything that happens applies to us personally.
So, I’m thinking our next generation may look back and blame us too. My kids have a lot of flaws, yet they are precious and wonderful. They are gifts from God. They have so much good about them. My wife and I must have had a little to do with that.
And let’s face it. Our own parents and grandparents and great-great-great-grandparents did the best they could with what they had. In most cases, they raised children with the skills they had learned.
We can spend time blaming the last generation if we want, but sooner or later, we have to face who we are and look ahead.
So you were dealt a raw deal while you were growing up. Your parents made mistakes. Face forward and see what you can do now. If there is a vicious cycle in your family, work to break it.
We must come to a point where we have peace about what has gone on before us, regardless of pain, baggage or past problems.
One of the lines in the song says “I wasn’t there that morning, when my father passed away. I didn’t get to tell him, all of the things I had to say.”
Perhaps that should be our focus. Our lives are but a vapor here on earth. If too much time is spent on our hurts, how are we going to move on?
How can we truly live in those “living years?”