Twenty Vs. Twenty – Guest Post by Panther

Hi, I’m Panther from the Urban Panther’s Lair and I was so thrilled when Annie asked me to come on over to be a guest blogger, I foolishly gave her the opportunity to pick the topic. I even gave her carte blanche to make it challenging. Well, you know our Annie, she put on her thinking cap and came back with a doozie!

Do you feel that modern relationships (the 20-somethings) are fundamentally different when you and I were in that age group?

Well, I was 20-something, about, um, 20-something years ago. And I have three children who are 20-somethings. While this doesn’t make me an expert, it certainly means I can have a heck of a lot of fun extemporizing on this topic!

In my children, and their friends, I have observed three major differences on their approach to relationships from how my friends and I approached them at the same age.

1. Caution

I dated my boyfriend for six months, got engaged, and was married within a year. I was doing a scan of my friends from that time period, and stories I have heard from other people my age, and this rapid romance seems to have been quite common. We were certainly all married before our 23rd birthdays. My children, and their friends, are taking a much more cautious approach. D1 dated her boyfriend for four years before she moved in with him. She’s 23 and he’s 27. D2 has been dating her boyfriend for almost a year, most of that at a distance because they were in universities over three hours away from each other. In the Fall, she’ll be heading to another university over an hour away, and then heading off to Europe to do a placement in a museum. Their friends also seem to be taking time before moving in with their boyfriend or girlfriend. And marriage? Add another year, or two, or three, of living together before that is even a consideration.

2. Stick-to-it-tiveness

When my friends and I were dating, if we broke up, we broke up. Maybe one ‘second chance’ but that’s it; NEXT! What I have found fascinating is the willingness, mainly on the part of the young women, to wait it out. In what I think is pretty typical fashion, the young males panic when they start to ‘get too close’ to their girlfriends, and hit the highway at a run. Then they realize they actually miss their girlfriends and come back. This Panic, Run, Return pattern repeats itself several times. Sometimes, children are even created during the Return stage, triggering yet another Run. The young women aren’t sitting around pining for their man, and do carry on, but they open up their hearts and homes during the Return stage. Eventually, the young men deal with their fears and commit themselves to the relationship.

3. Screw the man

No, not that way! I mean screw The Man. For the most part, we were chasing the all mighty dollar. Long work hours, training courses at night, volunteer hours to build contacts, etc, etc. We were always seeking the next promotion. This meant time away from our loved ones. Not my kids and their friends. Yes, they are getting an education, and yes they want to live comfortably, but when they leave work, they leave work. They are willing to live on less materially, in order to enjoy each other, their friends, and eventually their kids.

So, why the above three differences? This is where I am totally taking a wild guess, but here’s my theory. Caution…heck, I’m on my third long term relationship. My kids lived through my first two, which weren’t all that pleasant. Especially the second one. No wonder they are taking time to really get to know their partners. Sticking it out? I was divorced by the time I was 28. Most of my friends and acquaintances were divorced by 30. These kids are working out their differences and growing into each other first. And if that means times apart from each other for personal growth, so be it. Screw The Man? I am sure a lot of the 20-somethings of today grew up watching one or both parents giving their all to work, only to have the plug yanked unexpectedly after 20 or 30 years of dedicated service. Missed dinners, missed school concerts, missed bedtime stories? Not what these young people want for themselves and their families.

Despite the difference in approach to building relationships, I know my kids want the same thing that I want. To live happy, fulfilled lives, with someone who loves and respects them. And I believe, while the initial stage seems slow, they actually stand a better chance of finding that person faster than I did.

(Woo-hoo, Panther, you really rose to the challenge here and wrote a great and insightful post. Bravo!)

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25 thoughts on “Twenty Vs. Twenty – Guest Post by Panther

  1. Hi Panter.

    I love these guest speakers.What a great post and how very brave of you to let our Annie choose it. NO WAY – would I let her.

    No !!

    Actualy maybe I would, she very considerate to our brain capacity and seems to be able to accomodate the brainless doesn’t she. Hehe!!

    Argh!!

    I’m talking about me here darling not you with the brainlessness.

    I had my daughter at 21 and my daughter had her son at 21. I don’t have much experiences with relationships, my daughters father died, I met another man had my second son, split up when he was three months and never had a relationship since. That was 17 years ago now.

    My daughter is very assertive within her relationships. She’s a bit of a bossy bitch I think. She’s been in this one now for 5 years and has a beautiful three year old boy. I love being Mum to a Mum.

    Urmm !!!

    I don’t really know what to say, what I will say is my comments are so long and drawn out arn’t they. I hope nobody minds. I learn so much with womens posts and my reactions and comments to them. This will be on my mind today now.

    Your a really good writer arn’t you Panter. Thank you for this brilliance.

    Smiles & Warmth
    Di

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  2. Wonderful insight, born of rich experience – thank you. Great to see how your children have integrated some of your life learnings into their lives! Encourages me given the “mistakes” we have made and are yet to make with ours!

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  3. This is a great post! #3 makes a lot of sense, as more and more people (especially in the 20-something crowd too) are looking into self employment.

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  4. Very good observations, Panther. i agree with your points. i think as women move forward in their independence, status, there’s not this rush to marry, have children, etc. There’s more focus on their lives being explored and settled before marriage.

    Really great post.

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  5. VERY well written.

    I actually have nothing to add, except to say AMEN, especially to this part:

    “Screw The Man? I am sure a lot of the 20-somethings of today grew up watching one or both parents giving their all to work, only to have the plug yanked unexpectedly after 20 or 30 years of dedicated service. Missed dinners, missed school concerts, missed bedtime stories? Not what these young people want for themselves and their families.”

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  6. @Annie – thanks for stimulating my mind once again. And I love the picture you chose. It’s adorable!

    @Di – My second daughter, D2, definitely has strong opinions on what she believes is right and wrong in a relationship. I guess she’s developed a check list after observing her mother. Thankfully I finally got it right! *grin* I too enjoy reading other women’s experiences, and comparing them to my own. I also enjoy getting the man’s perspective, which is why it is so fun writing duelling blogs with the Urbane Lion. I am learning a lot from what he has to say, and what the male readers have to say. And thank you for the compliment. I love to write, but being acknowledged for a job well done is an added bonus!

    @Gerry – yes, fortunately my children are mature enough to learn and grow from my mistakes, as opposed to doing a huge Intervention on how I ruined their lives. *smile*

    @Daisy – thanks!!

    @Dube – definitely the way to go. I have learned to take a relaxed approach to work. My boss keeps trying to groom me for ‘bigger and better’, while I am flattered, I have come to realize that bigger is not necessarily better.

    @C – agreed. At first glance, it appears that these young women, with the whole Panic, Return, Run cycle are settling for a relationship, but I am observing very strong and committed relationships coming out of it.

    @Vered – thanks for coming over for a read. Yes, AMEN to #3!

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  7. Hi Urban Panther:

    My mother got married at 19, had me nine months later, had my sister 11 months after I was born, and had my brother less than two years after my sister was born. Not something I ever wanted for myself. I think women today have the opportunity to define themselves outside of a relationship with a man and having children, which is great.

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  8. My parents have been working for The Man and until this day they can’t understand that you can actually be successful by Screwing The Man.

    The Baby Boomer Generation definitely has left its mark!

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  9. Panther,

    All good points. I remember when I was a kid, my parents were the oldest of all my friends’ parents (they had me at 25). When I had my daughter, I was 30, and I am not the oldest mother in her class by a long shot. How old will she be when she’s ready to settle down? The dating itself has changed a lot, for sure, but when to end the dating game is what amazes me. No rush at all.

    Regards,

    Kelly

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  10. @Marelisa – I had D1 in 1985, D2 in 1986 and OS in 1987. I was 24 when OS was born. D1 is 23 and has told me that babies will not occur until age 27 – 30. If she holds out for 30, she will have been with J for over 10 years! I had been with The Dad for 18 months when she was born.

    @Chris – yes, the Baby Boomers may have the money, but have they been that happy? Interesting.

    @Kelly – yes, none of my children are in any rush to go the traditional route of marriage adn kids. I, of course, want grandbabies, but I keep that to myself. For them, I’m glad they are waiting.

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  11. Hi Panther. Great post!

    My mother, bless her soul, set an example for me that I’m not following. She was married 3 times and my sisters and I were bridesmaides in 2 of those weddings. Needless to say, I have not married yet. Had 2 offers, but turned them both down. Hmmmm, I wonder why?

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  12. Davina – LOL okay, I guess I set the same example for my daughters not to follow, bless my soul. Ah well, married the first one, lived with the second. As for the third one, I think the Lion pre-proposed to me last Friday night. He made it clear it was not a proposal proposal. I said “Good, because it totally sucked if it was.” *grin*

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  13. Wow – great post. I always find it interesting comparing the different generations. Their expectations, morals, pastimes, and values are always fun to look at.

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  14. It’s funny, but my observations of what I have seen around me has been the opposite for point 3 – about being willing to live on less materially.

    I was at uni in the early 70s, and we all moved out of home and lived in group houses and listened to music and stuff. I get amazed the way so many young persons today are so totally focussed on working hard to buy a house and so on (and they stay living with their parents to do it) – and that they get excited about white goods. Their values are quite different to what “ours” were.

    Interesting stuff!

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  15. Hi Urban Panther,

    What a fabulous guest post. You did marvelous.

    I do agree, many young girls are now looking at all of their opinions before walking down the aisle, even though their dream is to eventually have a life with someone who loves them (and vice versa).

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  16. @Bamboo – thanks. It was fun to sit down and put thought to it.

    @Teeni – yes, it would be interesting to interview my mother’s generation on the same topic!

    @Robin – yes, your observation is equally valid. I have heard about kids staying at home until the late 20s. Interestingly, not so for any of my kids or their friends, and they were my ‘study’ group. For whatever reason, they are all independent little cusses who hightailed it out of the family home and started making their way. My son, an extreme example, has been totally self supporting since age 17. Mind you, I have always said to my kids that I will do whatever it takes to help them live on their own (I have spotted rent payments by times), rather than have them move back. I don’t think that’s healthy for them or me.

    @Barbara – on the flip side of waiting to get married, they also don’t want to wait into the mid to late 30s to have kids either, as so many of my generation did. Interesting balance they are trying to achieve!

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  17. As a typical Gen-Xer in between the boomers and the twenty-somethings, most of what I see are people who have spent the last 20 years either doing what was expected or fighting that and now mid-30s are figuring out what they want.

    Glad to see that you think the 20-somethings are doing that now.

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  18. @Alex – yes, and even though I technically the very last of the Baby Boomers, I relate far more to Gen X. Mind you, Douglas Coupland is my age, so makes sense. Anyway, yes, I am glad the 20-somethings are figuring it now, as opposed to later.

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  19. Panther – a wonderful guest blog indeed and since I’ve now happened upon writerchick I will have to keep checking this one out.

    I agree with all your points. As a 30 something, I can certainly see the difference between the 20 somethings and 40 somethings. For me, the most noticeable difference between my generation and that of my moms is the age at which people are having kids. Like you, my mom was married by 22 and had kids shortly thereafter. Most of my friends are at least 33 before they even considered children. More personal growth, more work on career and then settling down – which are all helpful long term.

    Great, as always … can’t wait to see what the Lion has to say.

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  20. Very nice post. It sounds like progress (not sure if #2 is indeed progress).

    I agree with Vered and like how you described 20-somethings to value relationships over chasing the almighty dollar. That is indeed progress.

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