No sympathy for whiners

Elise T. Chisolm

October 30, 1990|By Elise T. Chisolm

THE GREAT Whine: Well, I am tired of it, and I'm not sure it's fair to the group of baby boomers, who are your basic thirtysomething people, and who don't whine.

I read it first in a magazine, and it made me mad: It goes something like this.

The baby boomers have it bad on both ends. They have to figure out how to take care of their own kids while they both work; and at the same time, they are having to worry about taking care of their aging parents, and the enormous projected medical costs.

Apparently there are a lot of boomers who think this way, and they are complaining loudly and wringing their very capable hands.

As a matter of fact, statistics tell us that only 5 percent of people past 65 were in nursing homes in 1985, although it is true the population living past 85 is expected to expand. But the majority of older people do not end up in nursing homes.

A baby boomer said to me recently, "Oh, I really don't know what we'll do. I have the feeling as soon as the last kid leaves home and we get free, we will have to take in Mom and Dad."

I say, what's new? That's life.

Back when I was growing up with my children, we had to worry about the same thing. Only we didn't whine, we just knew what we had to do, and we did it.

I don't remember ever saying, "How are we ever going to take care of the kids and our parents?"

My husband went every day after work to feed his stroke-victim mother in her home. His mother cried every time he went by, so he came home drained, but he never complained. When my mother could not live alone anymore, we built a room and bath onto our house for her.

I'm not saying we were all Mother Theresas, but we did the best we could, and we usually had more children than the boomers have.

The old argument that we both did not have to work does not hold water. A lot of us did work.

But to surmise that these ''cry babies" are having a terrible struggle, more of a struggle than we had with our family responsibilities, is not fair.

Jane Pauley's new show, "Real Life," recently pointed up what I am talking about.

She interviewed three families, who confessed they did not think there was enough time, that they all seemed to be working harder than ever, longer hours, and with less fun. They were all between 30 and 45. They were all whining.

So why are they all working harder and enjoying it less? Some of this is inflation and economics, but some of it is the residual of the "gimme age.''

But, you see, I'm not sure the 72 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, the 30- to 40-year-old boomers are working harder.

I think it's all relative. It's what you want in life and the baby boomers want it all.

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