Students and grandparents — social norms can change with generational shifts

Alyssa Ochss

The Silent Generation, the age where many of our grandparents were born, occurred over 70 years ago. They had different ideals, ways of living and social norms that, according to Pew Research, have shifted over the years.

Millennials and Generation Z members have stepped out of their comfort zones when it comes to women in the workplace, and greater expansions of ethnic and social diversity. Pew Research said millennials have become “detached” from bigger institutions such as politics, and education is more attainable, especially for women.

While education seems to have taken center stage with millennials, people in the generation are also older when they marry. According to Pew Research, about 57 percent of millennials have never married, or they are getting married between 27 and 30 compared to the age of 21 that their grandparents were getting married at.

Oakland University students have noticed the societal and generational changes as well.

Hannah Weaver, a social work major, said her grandparents were born between 1929 and 1944. She was closest to her grandmother on her mother’s side, who would often watch her when her parents were at work when she was younger and still plays a great role in her life.

Pew Research also reported that education is an important aspect of millennials’ lives, especially for women. Weaver strives for an education, something her grandparents may have not had the full opportunity to obtain.

“There’s more wiggle room, and I can choose where I can go,” Weaver said. “I am not expected to choose a certain career path. My grandpa worked in a salt factory, and his brothers did that too. It was just kind of expected he was going to do that.”

Weaver said her grandparents’ parents didn’t particularly encourage their children to earn an education. Her grandma on her mother’s side went to a community college for a year, but being one of 20 siblings didn’t make it easy for her to stay.

Carly Fleury, a psychology major, said she was very close with her grandparents on her mother’s side, and she could see herself in them.

Fleury’s grandparents grew up on a farm in Germany. She said they were “traditional” in the sense of gender roles.

Fleury said her own schools pushed education to prepare for what type of job she wanted to get. Her grandmother didn’t have the same chance she had.

“She grew up in a very ‘traditional’ time,” Fleury said via email. “The men were the lead and were the ones paying the bills, and the women cleaned and cooked and raised the children. To do anything else would have been crazy.”

Fleury said her grandma never had the chance to get an education, but she was happy with being a mother. However, Fleury also said she wonders if her grandma wanted to work instead.

Though Weaver could notice the generational difference between her and her grandparents, she said she could still see herself in her grandparents.

“We have very similar values, and they have definitely instilled in me values, so our values aren’t that different,” Weaver said. “There are no really big differences between me and my grandparents.”

Though there are some notable differences between the generations, some values such as religion and family may still be etched in the minds of many of the young and old.