« Home | After » | In all fairness.... » | Sexy or Not Sexy? » | Confession » | The Love that (almost) Brought Down a Kingdom » | The perfect dinner » | This morning's headlines » | Health update » | Live Blogging AI » | The ongoing saga of the coffeemaker »

That was Then....This is Now

Recently I was talking to a friend about how our standard of living is so much higher than our parents'. I mean, there's the obvious:

-- My house is bigger, nicer and newer than anything my parents ever had in their lifetime.

-- My parents never owned two cars until they separated and lived apart.

But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how far removed my life is now from what it was then.

-- Our house had three bedrooms, all of which were smaller than my current master bath.

-- We only had one bathroom in our house, and it was smaller than my current walk-in closet.

-- Our family rarely ate out, and when we did, it was someplace like Roy Roger's.

-- My dad (who was 49 when I was born) cut the grass with a push mower. Not the gas or even the electric kind, but the kind that you pushed in order to make the blades spin around.

(And we raked leaves by hand. We had lots of big oaks in our yard and all us kids were expected to help. We each had our own rakes - according to our size - and we raked the big piles of leaves onto an old shower curtain which we would each hold one corner of and carry to the curb. When it was all done we would romp and play in the huge pile of leaves until the big vacuum truck would come by and suck them up in a big hose. No telling how many of our toys and prized possessions were lost in the pile and sucked up with the leaves.)

-- Most of our clothes were homemade by my mother - almost ALL of my clothes were hand-me-downs from my older sister - and what was purchased came from either JC Penny or Sears.

-- Our parents rarely bought anything for us save for Christmas and birthdays. And then the gifts were things like clothes (yay! store-bought!), a clock-radio, a record album, a Barbie doll.

(I do remember one spring when my mother took us to a store somewhere and bought skates for my sister and me and a skateboard for my brother. It sticks out very vividly in my mind because things like this just rarely happened for no reason.)

-- For entertainment purposes, we had one TV in our house.

(You can't even imagine the agitated excitement we experienced when I was 11 and we moved to Mississippi and they had cable!)

-- We rarely went to movies, and when we did, we popped our own popcorn and smuggled it in in mom's purse.

-- When my sister was 12 (1976), she wanted to go see the movie "The Bad News Bears" but my parents wouldn't let her because it was rated PG.

-- We never bought books; we borrowed them from the library. I think my sister did receive the whole set of the Little House books one year for Christmas or birthday.

And here's the thing: we weren't poor. My dad was a federal government employee and we lived in suburban Virginia. We were middle class. Which begs the question: Is the middle class disappearing? To which I say: YES. I don't know anyone who lives the way my family did. We buy our kids clothes at Gap and Limited Too. We eat out more than once a month. Our kids have everything they want and I couldn't BEGIN to fit all of my clothes (and shoes!) into the tiny closets of the houses built in the 1950s.

How has your standard of living changed from the way you grew up? Do you think the middle class is disappearing?

That's interesting. I think a lot of it is a function of where you live. I grew up in the south where it's still less expensive to live. We had a nice house, big yard, pool in the back. Until I was 6 or 7, we had one car but after that we always had two. Now, we live up north and it is horribly expensive. Our house is smaller than the one I grew up in. We have more "stuff", two cars...but I think, at least around here, a yard is hard to come by unless you have a couple million in the bank.

It's funny that you should mention this bc my fiancee and I were deiscussing this the other day. We do believe that middle class is disappearing. Rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. We are on the brink of poor. We live in a one bedroom efficency (much smaller than my parents), own one car and paying the other. but I can't complain. Life is good. I have it better than my parents and my child (on the way) will have it better than me.

The middle class of yesteryear is not the middle class of today. Today's middle class: everyone has a cell phone, cable TV, computer, SUV and sq footage is not supposed to be under 3000-4000 for your house but sounds right at about 5000-6000. No one I know does garden work, that's for the gardeners who come by weekly. People eat out just about more then they eat home cooked meals due to the ever shrinking free time. The differences go on and on but it's still middle class. It's just a different way of life due to the changing times and advanced technology. I do think there's more poorer people and more of the "working poor" now then ever.

Ah, time used to be free, imagine that.

You make some good points, Anne. The fact that technology has become more accessable and more affordable has changed the standard of living for everyone.

And more working moms do result in more eating out. I know it does for my family. I'm home now, and cooking if not 7 at least 6 nights a week. But when I was working, we ate out at least 5 nights a week. It's ridiculous. We spent more last year eating out than we did on our mortgage! And the rise of "family-style" restaurants like Chili's and TGIFridays just shows that it's a growing trend everywhere.

My life is definitely a lot different from when I was a kid. And I agree, middle class is disappearing. To find people who live the way I grew up, I'd have to venture deep into "bad" parts of town.

I'm going to sound like a weirdo, but I always enjoyed raking leaves. I wish my neighbourhood had real trees. ha!

My life is way different too - I grew up in a three bedroom, little less then 1000 sq ft, small, very safe area. Now I live in a brand new (first in our family to buy a brand new home!) 2600 sq ft home, two cars, smack in the middle of the suburbs. Do I enjoy it? Nah, I'd rather be back in that less then 1000 sq ft house any day of the week.

In the months following the devastating Asian tsunami of December 2004, an amazing story of survival emerged from Simeulue Island, the closest inhabited land to the epicenter of the earthquake.

A news report said that only 7 of the remote Indonesian island’s 75,000 inhabitants died when 30-foot waves struck just half an hour after the quake. For decades, the people had heard stories told by their grandparents of giant waves that killed thousands on this same island in 1907. So when the ground shook and the sea retreated from the shore, the people recalled their grandparents’ warnings and fled to high ground.

First Corinthians 10 describes a spiritual disaster we can avoid. After the people of Israel were delivered from slavery in Egypt, they continued to turn away from the Lord. Recounting their recurring self-indulgence and its disastrous results, Paul wrote: “Now these things became our examples . . . . And they were written for our admonition” (vv.6,11). The story of their failure has been preserved so we can avoid the same disaster of disobedience.

If there are warning signs in our lives today, it’s time to run from self-destructive sin to the high ground of God’s forgiving grace. —David C. McCasland

The Bible is filled with example and teaching
On how to avoid all the pitfalls of sin;
And if we will learn from its people and precepts,
The struggles and battles of life we can win. —Hess

A warning heeded is a disaster avoided.

For similar resources, search these topics:
Relationships > Relating to God > Obedience
Basics Of Faith > Sin > Repentance
Bible in One Year: 1 Kings 14-15; Luke 22:21-46

No, I don't think the middle class is disappearing. I think it has been redefined. And I think that people are living beyond their means more.

As far as your parents not letting your sister see a PG movie -- I wish more parents had that sort of sense. There is a lot of bad parenting going on nowdays. I know that's not the issue you proposed, but I think it fits in with both parents working and guilt about not spending more time with kids -- parents buy more things for their kids as a way of compensating and let their kids do things they probably shouldn't let them do. I have seen little kids at movies like "Kill Bill." That's NUTS!

Oh, word to Class Factotum's comment.

People are more comfortable with debt these days. And the rate of college graduate is increasing every year. These people are not only incurring debt to put themselves through school, but then feel entitled to buy that big TV or upgrade their cars or cellphones after graduation. We call them the $40K millionaires. They're the ones at the club popping bubblies, wearing the expensive purses and make-up.

And I also think parents aren't free to raise their kids anymore. Kids are more aware of what can get parents in trouble (hitting, spanking, passive aggressiveness, lying) and they are more exposed to smart-alec kids on tv (hello desparate housewives) and feel any behavior can be justified.

also, parents spoil their kids alot more these days, it seems, so their kids will think they are cool. just look at the number of girls who go to the nail salon with their moms on any given weekend.... I didn't get my first pedicure until the day of my wedding!!!

I don't really think middle class is disappearing, just changing. I grew up in an alright house, we had three cars and my brother and I had everything we wanted. We were expected to help out, though.
I have a bigger house now than what my parents have and we make more money, but our values haven't changed.
I think people focus too much on material things and I work hard to not raise my kids that way. People are living beyond their means and I don't think I'd be happy that way. I try to teach my kids to not fall in love with material things. They do have a lot of clothes and toys but so did I when I was a kid. Maybe because I never had to "go without" is that I'm not an over spender.
There is a man who banks where I work. He's a yard man/gardener. He does all the yards around this area and I see him at a different house every morning. While I'm taking my daughter to school, he's already hard at work. When he stops by the bank, he has been out all day and is full of dirt, just looks tired. He has more money saved up than a lot of people I know. On the other hand, there is a lady that also banks there. She's always talking to us about her new car and always looks amazing. She has a great pair of shoes and an expensive purse every time I see her. She has soooooo much debt. She's always on the phone calling her husband an idiot. She looks amazing but seems miserable or at least always angry. We all dread helping her because she is so rude. The gardener looks really humble but seems so happy. I think people take different priorities and that dominates their life. Lots of people are not happy with what they have and always want more.

Wow, your childhood sounds just like mine, but I did get to go see The Bad News Bears, but we did take our own bag of homemade popcorn. I grew up in a house with 4 kids and our house was probably 1600 square feet at the most. We rarely went out to eat to and if we did it was a big deal. Wow...makes my life today seem so much more luxurious. When I tell my daughter we bought clothes from Sears and Montgomery Ward, she wrinkles up her nose. Back then there wasn't much of a choice and if you got your clothes anywhere else, then you must have been rich!

Memories. Wow.

I grew up poor and happy. Me, my mama, and my grandma all lived in a two bedroom apartment in the projects. Meridian, Mississippi in the 70's and 80's . . . ah, I remember it well. I was an only child and I loved school and performing. I was always in choir and surrounded myself with an ecclectic group of artsy fartsy weirdos. I got loans to go to college, and loans to go to grad school and now I'm a 50k millionaire! (Thanks, Melati!)

The middle class is disappearing. And money does not buy what it used to. Think about it, when we were little people who were unskilled laborers owned homes and put kids through college. You don't see that anymore. Average minimum wage in the south -- 6 bucks! 6 times fourty . . . 240 (with out taxes taken!) So let's ratchet that down to 2 hundred even a week. So every two weeks you make four hundred dollars. My car note is almost more than that! How are the working poor living?!!!!!!!!!

Post a Comment