Who will gerbil the gerbils?

That's why some species eat their young

A strange and disturbing thought crossed my mind the other day.

We’ve got two gerbils on our hands, each with their own peculiarities.

One, who I write about the most, only recently left home. His exact whereabouts are unknown, but last we heard, he lives in a commune. Yep, a bloody commune. As in a place where a bunch of people freeload off open-minded free-loving adults where no one has a job and everyone likes to get high.

We have two gerbils. This is the one that dropped out of high school, never worked on his GED, is unemployed, has basically never worked, got his nose pierced, his ears gauged, daydreamed about a lip ring, grew his hair long and his face fuzzy, and took up habits like drinking, smoking and doing pot. He also applied for and receives food stamps.

Our other gerbil is a few years older and on a remarkably similar track. He’s the one that dropped out of high school, never worked on his GED, and decided (along with his girlfriend) that birth control was a bad idea, thus leading to the creation of The Unwanted Child.

The situation with this gerbil and his unwanted child is what got me to thinking…

We, as grandparents, just might be looking at the possibility of adopting the little squirt. It’s a long shot, but if it happens, it’ll be a tough row to hoe. The kid hasn’t exactly been dealt the best hand.

So what happens when a generation becomes so lazy and irresponsible that people have to raise their own grandchildren?

Of course I’ve heard about people raising their own grandchildren before. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon. But something tells me that this sort of thing is on the rise. You might even say it’s “trending.”

A brief search of the internet for the phrase “grandparents raising children” turned up a disturbing number of results. I guess that means my hunch might be right. One web page, Grandparents: As Parents has a fact sheet, tips and statistics about this. And the government web site USA.gov has a Grandparents Raising Grandchildren page, too.

The Big Question

When grandparents step in and raise their children, there is one other important aspect to this situation. Namely, that the actual parents are completely missing out on the parenting experience. They are not learning any parenting skills.

So, when their children go on to have children, on what resource will those children be able to draw???

Those children will have grandparents who never acted as parents themselves!

Sure, they’ll know how to avoid jobs. They’ll know how to do a wide variety of drugs. They’ll even know a lot about body modification and giving up all sense of self and individuality in the name of being cool and fitting in. But they won’t know jack shit about parenting, so they’ll be ill-equipped to step in when their own children reproduce. In other words, who will be there to parent the gerbils of gerbils?

We are now one generation away from total family oblivion. Of course, that might not be the end of the world. Maybe by then iPhones and televisions will be able to do even more than they do now. Perhaps they’ll take over raising the young ones and it will be smooth sailing from there, I’m sure.

I’m not sure the traditional definition of family can successfully be “defended” by the responsibility apocalypse that will soon be upon us.

6 responses

  1. I see a lot of grandparents parenting. The issue I run into a lot at work is when there is an informal agreement on who is raising the child. The gerbil parent uses the fact that there is no legal grounds for the grandparent to keep the child against the grandparent.

    For example, I want something from you, you don’t want to give it. Fine, I’ll just take my child back, I’m feeling very responsible today. You’ll get her back when I’m bored or get what i want, whichever comes first. The cycle repeats as I feel the need.


    1. That’s the gerbil cycle in a nutshell, I think. Sad. Grandparents give an incredible life gift only to be treated badly, not to mention the devastating effects on the young children being tossed around like a hot potato. When was it exactly when the need for self-gratification totally eclipsed all sense of personal responsibility?


  2. There does seem to be something of a ‘lost generation’ feel to those in their teens and twenties. I don’t know what the stats are in the UK for grandparents raising their grandkids but imagine the figures would echo those in your country. I don’t know whether to consider that this ‘lost generation’ are the most self-centred ever and therefore unfit for/incapable of parenting or to think that society as a whole has somehow failed to work its magic on them. The whole lip-piercing etc style of ‘self-expression’ can soemtimes mask a dreadful sense of having no discernible identity. Has capitalism homogenised the young so effectively that they are truly lost or has it just made them selfish little snots? The wishy-washy liberal in me says the former; the middle aged grouch in me is more behind the latter as an explanation.


    1. At least in my country I think a wake up call may be on the way. “Go with the flow” and “do what feels good” can only go so far when the shit hits the fan. The “I don’t want a job” mentality may turn out to be quite disastrous. If so, then I’ll be sure to be there and yell, “I told you so.”


  3. My mother was largely raised by her grandmother — you may have a point, as my grandmother then largely raised me.

    My mother wasn’t playing around…she was seriously a freaking nightmare/ horror movie scene creator. Dad was abusive but more of an asshole abuser. He was drunk and thought it would be funny to have me get his pliers to yank out my teeth…that weren’t loose. He just wanted to do it. Or he’d be surly and feel like choking you and beating your head into a wall. He wanted to feel control/ strong–it wasn’t that you were being punished. He was simply an asshole. Who was also the “better” parent.

    That’s why my gram kept me away from them as much as possible (moved down the road when I was a toddler).

    When she should’ve been “parenting,” she worked hard, unlike most women of her generation. She made loads of money because she had to support herself, her kids and several members of her extended family, so her mother took care of the kids (else they were “latch-key” kids).

    I don’t know if it’s learning to be a parent or some people are sick-fucks/irresponsible. Even people aren’t *aren’t* sick/are responsible have to learn or do they just try? I dunno.


    1. I believe our children have been handed too much. And far too easily. Things have no value unless you work for them and earn. For example, in my experience, when my kids stole my things (a common occurrence) they’d treat the things like shit. In the rare cases where they actually worked and earned something on their own, they’d treat the thing like a precious gold nugget. The objects had different value in their minds because of how they were acquired.

      Now I see a whole generation with that mentality.


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