Up is Down and Down is Up
When I was in my teens, I used to ask my mother for advice when I had problems in my relationships or in planning my career. She would look at me, sigh, and say: “I don’t know what to tell you, son. The world has turned upside down. I don’t know what is right or wrong anymore.”
Now I understand how she felt. In many instances I do not know what is going on myself.
In the past, parents could safely say they knew more than their children. But with all the advances in technology, it is now the children who know more. I can barely operate my VCR, my remote, or my computer, much less Facebook and Twitter accounts, my iPhone, and a dozen other gadgets that my young son operates with ease.
This has had an impact on my authority. He frequently tells me, when I try to advise him, that I do not know what I am talking about.
Many young men before their bar mitzvah, know more about sex than I knew when I got married.
What can I teach my children, when I have no idea how to do the new math and when much of what they learn in school now was not even taught when I was in school. It is no longer children who learn from parents; more often it is parents who learn from their children.
This isn’t the only change that impacts the authority structure in the family; authority is affected by the changing value systems, too. For instance, a friend of mine told me that he would not have dreamed of bringing his girlfriend home to sleep with him at his parents’ home. That was unthinkable. But his daughter once brought her boyfriend home for an overnight without even asking permission. He went nuts. His wife, who is twenty years younger than he, criticized him for expressing discomfort: “What is wrong with you? Are you still in the Middle Ages?”
People my age have no idea anymore what is right and what is wrong or what is true or not.
I remember standing by a counter at Charles De Gaul airport in Paris. An older lady asked the attendant behind the counter: ” please, where is flight 902?”
” At satellite number 3״ he answered ( This airport has satellite buildings)
” I did not realize satellites now land at Charles De Gaulle airport” she turned and told me.
What is going on, what is real and what is only imaginary is becoming blurred.
In my culture, for thousands of years it was traditional to name a newborn after its grandfather or grandmother. My name, Yitzhuk (spelled Ichak in English) probably started with Isaac, the son of Abraham.
I have no chance of seeing my name given to my grandchildren.
In 1969, Peter Drucker wrote the influential book The Age of Discontinuity: Guidelines to Our Changing Society. The disruptions however have become much more frequent. A generation is not twenty years anymore; I see a new generation, with new values and mores, every ten years at most.
I can see it in my children: The difference between the oldest (who is 34) and youngest (16) created three generations among my children. It is more difficult than ever to integrate a family.
Life is getting more difficult, not easier. We are getting “older” behaviorally, feeling old not knowing what is going on and feeling the world has left us behind and that is happening to younger and younger people. Some are starting to feel out of touch on their fifties already and cant find a job being considered ” old” and to some in high tech industries one is ” old” already on his or her forties.
I cannot think of anything to do about it, except to sigh like my mother did, and go along for the ride life gives me.
Dr. Ichak Kalderon Adizes