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The Despair of Generation X: Addiction, Poverty, Broken Family Ties

Days of Hope or Despair: White Gen X Boys playing football 1970s

Backyard Football, Mt. Upton New York, 1976 

A fellow Gen-X blogger, Solo Gen X Warrior, has written a pretty gut-wrenching post, The Despair of White American Gen-X and the 2016 Election. I wanted to pass along the link, and encourage everyone to share it on social media.

The post highlights some of the grim realities of many Gen-Xers whose American dreams have passed them by. I covered some of this in a 2015 post, Why Are Gen X Men Dying? This problem, which one economist likened to a plane that had already crashed, has received relatively little news coverage.

Excerpt: The Despair of Opioid Addiction, Poverty

I am saddened to see many in my generation most brutally hit by opioid addiction, living in stagnant poverty in the depressed rural job markets of former coal mining districts and auto industries in the rust belt of America. In the 1980s, the Hispanic and Black communities had higher death rates, but began to lessen in 1995, compared with whites, according to a more recent Washington Post article that states “The things that reduce the risk of death are now being overwhelmed by things that elevate it, including opioid abuse, heavy drinking, smoking and other self-destructive behaviors.”

Broken Family Ties

She goes on to write about the isolation Gen-Xers suffer from family ties that have disintegrated or never even formed in the first place. She then contrasts it with non-white American families who appear to be stronger, tighter and more unified.

I’ve often witnessed many white families are less unified than non-white families, at least from my perspective. My Armenian friend has 3 children with a large extended family who all live in the same city. My Hispanic co-worker has 4 grown up children and posts photos of beach outings and parties and dinners with her siblings and many aunts and uncles. My African-American co-worker has several children and runs a barbecue grill restaurant with his extended family. They are all in my generation and are devoted to family despite our shared struggles in the economy and current political environment.”

I have made these same observations about family ties or the lack thereof myself. In casual conversations with a friend, she often shares anecdotes about her Black family reunions along with her beloved aunties, uncles and cousins. I tell her she is so lucky-blessed, and she looks at me in amazement. Non-white families don’t know how disconnected white families are. I don’t know how we became such disparate parts with so little interest in or care for one another.

Single Mom 1977

Mother’s Day, 1977

1970s and 80s: Divorces, Custody Battles

Did this breakdown of the extended family begin with the birth and rearing of Generation X? All those divorces and custody battles in the 1970s and 80s created a terrible legacy for our generation. So many tragic seeds sown into the fabric of our lives.

How long does one generation suffer for the sins of the father? Although the transgressions themselves are not passed down, the consequences can last a lifetime. In addition, children often repeat the patterns of their parents. Still, generations of obedience can begin with one person. That is the decision my husband Robert made when we had children.

From Psalm 40: “I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

Again, be sure to check out Solo Gen X Warrior’s post. Click here to read it now. You can also join the conversation about it on Facebook.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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1 Comment

  1. genX alt gal

    I have to disagree . bc a lot of black & Hispanic family ties in the 70s & the 80s especially in urban cities were definitely broken especially in the 90s. it is not just a “white” thing.


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