'Generation Me'

a book review

I just finished a thought-provoking book that takes a look at data collected over the past couple generations. I'm glad I read it, and am eager to recommend it and discuss it with anyone...

'Generation Me' reads like an essential textbook for those of us born in the 70s, 80s, and 90s who want to gain the big-picture perspective on why our generation is the way it is. The author is also of this generation and handles the myriad data with self-awareness, wit, and expertise.

The book gets a little redundant as it goes on, but it's worth wading through the depressing trends to get to the good stuff at the end--namely the 'What the heck do we do with this information?' and 'How do we keep ourselves from making the same choices/mistakes for our children?'

"We worry about making the right choice," the book reads, "and we have no one else to blame when our choices go wrong. Personal freedom, the hallmark of our times, is a glorious thing, but too often we stand alone with our self-doubt about our own choices."

Personally, I felt both chastised and affirmed as I read the data that confirmed a lot of the internal struggles I've dealt with as a girl growing up who absorbed messages including 'be independent,' 'follow your dreams,' 'you can do anything.' While I have largely been able to achieve what I've worked hard for, I continually struggle against mixed messages and expectations as woman and a mother--and it was nice to see stats showing that I'm not alone. My own enjoyment of being a full-time mother sometimes conflicts with societal challenges and freedoms I enjoyed as a woman in the working world.

"Even if the work-versus-stay-at-home decision is crystal clear to you, the realities of both situations aren't always manageable," the book reads in its section about changes in gender and race equality over the past generations. "You might have always wanted to stay home, but then find that you can't make ends meet if you're not a two-income family. Even if finances aren't an issue, you might find yourself unprepared for life cooped up with young children every day ... . If you're fine with going back to work, you might find it difficult to construct a manageable work schedule, and even harder to find good child care (and perhaps impossible to find good child care that's affordable). As [Peggy] Orenstein* puts it, young women have 'a sneaking suspicion that the rhetoric of "choices" is in part a con job, disguising impossible dilemmas as matters of personal preference.'"

I had to read this book in small doses because the information was heavy, and its big-picture trends can be weighty and depressing. I often had to stop, take a deep breath, and cling to God's goodness in my life. Without that assurance, I would have begged Bret to whisk our family away to a cave far removed from society.

I highly recommend this book for anyone of this generation, our parents, and our bosses...

*Peggy Orenstein, "Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Love, Kids, and Life in a Half-Changed World" published 2000

Andrea, Sunday 27 June 2010 at 1:44 pm three comments
Emily Parker, (Email ) - 29-06-’10 12:32

Just put a hold on this at the public library. Sounds fascinating. Thanks for the recommendation.

Auntie Heidi, (Email ) - 02-07-’10 19:34

Nice review Andrea. Maybe I’ll pick up a copy to read myself.

Daja, (URL) - 30-07-’10 03:13

That book cover reminds me of a recent conversation with a friend who recently graduated from seminary. She kind of wanted to start a blog but wondered if she was just “fueling generational self-importance.” I told her “Generational Self-Importance” was a really good blog title. I was probably not very helpful.

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