WIRED WORD………..This week’s Wired Word will generate a lot of discussion. I look forward to hearing about what you have to say. We will be meeting in the sanctuary at 8:30 am.
Boomers’ Grown Children Don’t Want Their Parents’ Treasures
The Wired Word for the Week of August 13, 2017
In the News
True story: Several years ago, a member of our TWW team who is handy at woodworking made a wall-hanging knickknack rack for his wife to display her collection of bells. She liked the rack so well that she suggested he make two more — one for each of their mothers, to be given to them as Christmas presents. So he did, and both of the mothers seemed pleased to receive them, mounted them in their homes and filled them with knickknacks of their choice. After several years, however, both the older women passed away, and in emptying their houses, their knickknack racks were returned to our TWW team member.
Having grown children of their own, our team member and his wife offered the racks to their children, who declined them vigorously, saying, “We don’t collect anything and would have nothing to display on them. They would just be dust collectors in our house.”
We thought of that story while reading in The Christian Science Monitor recently about the grown children of Baby Boomers telling their parents they don’t want the Hummels, Thomas Kinkade paintings and other collectibles that the parents accumulated over the years of their marriage but which they must now thin down or part with altogether as they move to smaller quarters.
The grown kids, said the article, “recoil with something close to horror at the thought of trying to find room” for their parents’ collections, including complete sets of fine china and crystal.
“For their parents,” said the article, “to have a lifetime of carefully chosen treasures dismissed as garage-sale fodder can be downright painful.” (Again, we are reminded of a TWW member who is not a collector himself, but his wife is. He’s told her that if she dies before he does, he’s going to have “the mother of all garage sales.”)
The reality is that this is nothing new: Baby Boomers are not known for taking over their own parents’ collectibles either. Tasks differ. Styles differ. Times differ. Really, now, what percentage of Boomers were eager to take their parents’ Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby record collections?
It’s not unusual for parents and children to have different interests. In addition, financial status varies. In a healthy economy, people in their 20s tend to have lower incomes and net worth. These both tend to increase as they get older, reaching a peak when they reach their 60s, after which earnings and net worth decline as people leave the workforce. Thus, the younger ones are just starting out, with less space and more immediate needs just when their parents are starting to downsize.
Many of today’s millennials are not even interested in keeping the awards, trophies and other memorabilia from their own high school days, which their parents have carefully boxed and stored in the attic for them. When the kids do eventually look at that stuff, it’s often while taking it out to the trash.
“Millennials are living a more transient life in cities,” says Scott Roewer, 41, a Washington professional organizer whose business is the Organizing Agency. “They are living their life digitally through Instagram and Facebook and YouTube, and that’s how they are capturing their moments. Their whole life is on a computer; they don’t need a shoebox full of greeting cards.”
Another factor is lack of space. A larger percentage of those in their 20s are burdened with very high college debt, which paid for degrees that produced little or no increased earning capability. Starting one’s productive work life with a large debt and low earnings means living in a smaller space: less room and wallspace for their parents’ collectibles.
Note finally how these articles — and our discussion — tend to use imprecise names such as “Boomers” and “Millennials” to label people by group and then stereotype individuals with the group label. While there are shared characteristics and even outcomes, people remain individuals, not merely group members.
More on this story can be found at these links:
The Big Questions
- If you’re a person trying to hand your treasures on, and none of your offspring want them, how does it make you feel? If you are the one declining the offered items, how do you feel about that? How should you treat these feelings?
- What function do displayed collections or memorabilia have in your home? How, if at all, would your life be different if they were suddenly and irretrievably removed?
- Aside from stuff, what do you most hope to leave to your children?
- What does a younger person’s lack of interest in a parent’s stuff imply about the way he or she is dealing with life?
- Is anything related to this topic a spiritual matter? Why or why not?
Also, take a look at these Bible passages as they relate to our topic: Ecclesiastes 3:1, 5-6; Luke 12:20-21; Joshua 4:1-7; Ecclesiastes 2:18-19; Mark 15:24.