This recent article in the Christian Science Monitor got me to thinking about the way us Gen X’er go about parenting. Back in 2006 our family did just what the article mentioned: we sold a house, our cars, pulled the kids from school and traveled around the world for 6 months (see the stories about our travels here if you are interested). Now I had never heard of Eat, Pray, Love at that time, but I can see why people would make a connection. The thing is that the character in the book was a single woman, not a family. So how do you explain that families (who have a LOT more ties to the ordinary life) are the ones described leaving the rat race? I realize it is just an article is more about anecdotal evidence, but it does seem to be a leap to think that someone with two kids and a house in ‘burbs would be inspired by it and pack their bags.
I think a better explanation is that Generation X (born 1961-1981) parents are sigk of running on the treadmill of life (designed by previous generations) and don’t really trust anyone else to educate their kids (as any grade school teacher about this if you don’t believe me). So they decide to do it their own way. Gen X’ers are the ultimate individualists, willing to go it alone and damn the perceptions.
I can’t tell you how many times before, during and after our travels that we got asked, “What did you do for the kids educations?”. My answer depended on my mood at the time. Sometimes I would mention that they went to school in Australia for part of the trip (true, but they both didn’t learn a thing at that particular school). Other times I would answer that they were only in 4th grade and kindergarten respectively, so they really didn’t miss that much. Most of the time I would go with the cheeky answer by stating, “I already mentioned we traveled the World for six months!” After all, Caleb (who was ten at the time) learned a fair bit of Thai and even some Arabic on our travels. When we returned home he was a behind in one subject: violin (which he never really caught up in after that).
I suspect our reasons for dropping everything and traveling were much like our fellow Gen X’ers: We just wanted to do something different and didn’t really care what anyone else thought.
BTW, if you ask our Millennial (born 1982-2004) kids whether they would do the trip again now, they both reply “No Way!”. We hit it at a great age but they are not interesting in doing it again now…