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Lessons from the 1940s Woman – “Grown-Up Culture”

US poster promoting canning, 1943

US poster promoting canning, 1943

The more I look at this poster, the more I see how our culture has changed. In the 1940s, mother-daughter outfits were popular – the daughter wanted to dress just like her mother. Nowadays, middle-aged mothers dress like their teenaged daughters.

Something has flipped in recent generations. In traditional cultures, children couldn’t wait to grow up and have adult responsibilities, and people hoped to live long enough to have gray hair and the wisdom that came with it. But now we have a culture obsessed with youth.

Youth are held up as the ultimate example in how to dress, how to use technology, and what music to listen to. Youth believe their primary job is “to have fun” – I’ve even heard this from my own children. So why grow up? Where’s the motivation to move into adulthood, where they’ll be obsolete, uncool, and unable to play video games?

But our world needs old-fashioned adults to function. Twitter, texting, and Wii won’t build homes, put food on the table, or heal the sick.

As one person, I can’t change American culture, but I can watch my own attitude. Do I communicate to my children the joys of adulthood? Do I tell them of the satisfaction I get from a job well done? Do I pretend to be a teenager, or am I comfortable in my age? Do I make my children’s lives unpleasant enough that they long for adulthood?

Celebrate your adulthood! Listen to the music you like! Wear your mom-jeans with pride! Know enough technology to get by and don’t apologize about it! Perhaps some day your children will say, “I want to grow up to be just like you.”

Okay, then, so I’m a dreamer. That’s why I write fiction.

How about you? Do you see yourself buying into youth culture? How can you celebrate the wonderful age you’ve earned?

2 responses to “Lessons from the 1940s Woman – “Grown-Up Culture””

  1. Karen Lange says:

    Good post, with lots of food for thought. I guess my aim always has been to grow older gracefully, and to share as God leads. My prayer is that He would use me, particularly as an example to my children.
    Blessings to you, Sarah. Have a good weekend:)

  2. Sarah Sundin says:

    We don’t hear that much anymore – growing old gracefully – but we should! I like to think we get better as we get older. Karen, I’m sure God will use you more and more each year 🙂

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