Extraordinary Generation

BY Staff

They’re not the Breakfast Club anymore.

A chemist a carpenter a real estate agent a pair of business managers and an attorney — these are our representatives of Generation X a sampling from a generation once thought of as slackers as lacking direction and drive.

For the third installment in our Generations series we sat down with six Gen Xers from the Wrightsville Beach area to ask them about their lives and the events and influences that shaped them. In doing so we discovered several underlying similarities — not laziness or apathy but an independent spirit and a desire to face life on one’s own terms.

Generation X came of age in the ’70s and ’80s times of instability and change.

It voiced its objections through music with punk metal and grunge; and through its clothes and body art.

But as Gen Xers watched the havoc wrought by a climbing divorce rate they simply decided to build their own families on a stronger foundation.

The notion of job security changed as manufacturing moved overseas — and Gen Xers shaped their own careers in whatever new ways they envisioned.

The stigmas attached to Generation X may once have been somewhat apt for a generation of teens who were dissatisfied with the world as it was presented to them who were looking for security and a place to call their own in that changing world; but they are woefully outdated for a generation of adults who have quietly assumed the mantle of responsibility without giving up their own identities — and who are leading by example showing a new generation of youths that they can be true to themselves without rejecting their place in society. —Jules Norwood staff Gen Xer

Twin X: Shana and Danielle Bourgeois

By Crystal Walton

Family ties and the love of the beach will forever keep the Bourgeois twins anchored at Wrightsville Beach.

Twins Danielle and Shana moved to town from New Jersey when they were 10 and attended Wrightsville Beach School. “That is the best place around ” Danielle says.

“I love that place ” Shana echoes.

After school the twins stuck to the area around the beach going out in a boat their dad bought them in middle school or hanging out with their younger brother Ben now a well recognized professional surfer.

“We just went in our boat all the time. We didn’t play any sports in school because we didn’t want to have to go all the way back to Laney when we were already down here at the beach ” Shana says.

As children of boomers the girls’ childhood was typical in that their parents were more permissive than past generations. “We had more freedom ” Shana says.

Growing up the girls traveled almost every weekend up and down the East Coast with their mom and Ben for surfing competitions. “We spent every weekend on the beach ” Danielle says.

When college time came the twins say they were hesitant about leaving the beach but went up to East Carolina University and stuck it out for a year based on the advice of their father.

“We hated it ” Danielle says. “We missed the beach and our family.”

“We came home every weekend or went to Virginia Beach ” Shana says.

Following freshman year the girls transferred to UNCW and obtained their degrees in business management while getting hands-on experience in the family business Sweetwater and living right around the corner on Birmingham Street.

Their father Chuck purchased Sweetwater Surf Shop in 1995 and the girls quickly went to work.

Hurricane season not only brought on the madness of being a beach resident but the girls would work diligently to prepare the store. “When a storm came we didn’t care about our stuff we just cared about the store ” Shana says.

The girls have always lived in the same town with the exception of Shana’s short stint in California in search of something new. “I needed to get away and try something different ” Shana says but then she returned. “The people are just different … I love it here. I don’t ever want to move again.”

“I was heartbroken ” Danielle says of her sister’s absence. “She doesn’t feel like she is my sister; she’s the left side of me. If she’s not nearby I have a really hard time. She doesn’t; she’s more independent but I freak out.”

Shana who is married has one child Marley and another on the way. She was the self-proclaimed “troublemaker” growing up but has since settled down.

“We do everything the same except have babies ” Danielle says.

Danielle is single but says Shana’s husband Drew Harrison calls her his Sunday wife since they normally go out in the boat on Sunday while Shana is working.

“We all hang out together which is great ” Shana says.

Running is another family habit that the two picked up from their father. “You can see us running around the Loop all the time ” Danielle says.

Family is one thing that has defined the twins’ lives. “Our family is so important and we are so close ” Danielle says. “Our parents are our best friends and we do everything with them.”

Their mom Priscilla lives on Harbor Island and Chuck lives in Landfall.

Their parents divorced while the twins were in college but still maintain a good relationship.

Divorce it seems may be one characteristic that defines many Gen Xers. “I don’t know any other generations that have dealt with so much divorce ” Danielle says.

The boomers parents of the Xers had the highest divorce rate in American history during the 1970s — 40 percent.

“It’s a hard thing to go through but our family is so important and we are so close ” she adds.

In fact the three Bourgeois siblings call themselves “best buddies” and have made a pact to live on the same street to raise their children.

“I feel like a lot of people growing up weren’t very close with their brothers and sisters ” Danielle says. “Not us. We didn’t really care if anyone else was around as long as we had each other.”

The biggest thing the duo misses about Wrightsville Beach back in the day is Newell’s a general store that once stood where Wings is now but both say the small town atmosphere has remained. “I love the feel of things ” Danielle says. “Owning a business down here it’s so nice to know all the other business owners and have a connection. … We all kind of have the same thing in mind. We want Wrightsville Beach to do well.”

Wilmington on the other hand has changed drastically both agreed.

Defining Generation X cannot easily be done even by members of the generation.

“I don’t think you can lump us into a category ” Shana says. “Everyone is different.”

The slacker mentality that is often associated with their generation may be due in part to absent parenting due to family situations Danielle says. “But it wasn’t that way with us ” she laughs. “We have a good work ethic because of my dad. He is a very hard worker and expects us to be the same.”

Shana who works part-time in the surf shop as a manager and bookkeeper says Gen X is also seeing a resurgence of a more traditional lifestyle — taking time off to raise a family. “I feel like most of our girlfriends are hard workers but also are so into making a family ” she says. “That’s a change. I know a lot of stay-at-home moms. They are creative in how they manage their income.”

Experts agree. Richard Thau founder of a Generation X advocacy group says the most conservative people in the country are married Gen Xers with children. And a study conducted as a part of the 2000 U.S. Census found that almost 57 percent of Xers believe family is the most important value in their lives.

A lot of their Gen X friends have also started their own businesses or pursued a passion. “A lot of people now decide what they want to do not just do it ” Danielle says. “We have greater choices.”

“It’s not just about the dollar signs ” Shana agrees. “Our generation is into hard work if it’s something they want.”

Local X: Karl Allen II

By Jules Norwood

Generation X is a generation that has yet to leave its mark on the world. While the Greatest Generation was shaped by the Great Depression and World War II and the baby boomers were shaped by the civil rights movement and Vietnam Generation X has made its way through a changing world without having the luxury of history and hindsight to underscore its defining moments and characteristics.

Originally the term Generation X carried a connotation that its members were slackers youths who rejected the habits and values of their parents while lacking the drive to strive for their own legacy. In many ways those generalizations have become outdated.

Generation X has grown up. Many Gen Xers have careers and families. They have had time to come to terms with who they are and many are fiercely independent and self-reliant. They’ve had to be.

As the country’s economy has moved away from industry Generation X has dealt with a changing notion of job security. The increased availability of information has revealed an unstable world where nations and ideas come and go. Even the music associated with Generation X — heavy metal and the grunge rock of the early 1990s — is defined by angst and rebelliousness.

Karl Allen II who was born in 1978 and grew up in Wrightsville Beach in the ’80s and ’90s says that it’s unfair to squeeze an entire generation into a negative stereotype. Generation X he says is the first generation for which the label itself is derogatory.

“Baby boomers isn’t a derogatory tag ” Allen says “but Generation X often is. It tries to generalize our whole generation.”

Allen says the characterization he’s experienced is that Gen Xers don’t have any drive and want to be catered to.

“I don’t feel that the characterizations are accurate ” he says. “Just because you’re labeled something it doesn’t mean that’s who you are or what you are. I’m sure there’s some cynical people in our generation but I wouldn’t say that as a whole we’re lazy or don’t have any drive.”

Allen certainly doesn’t fit the definition of a slacker. After graduating high school he chose a career that interested him and set out to get started.

“My father my grandfather and my uncles took me fishing a lot ” says Allen. “We spent a lot of time fishing in the ocean and the sound and I think that’s a big part of who I am now and what I’ve done. If I didn’t grow up here being around the water and doing the things I did I don’t know what I would do for a job. I work on boats for a living so I’m probably on a boat more than I’m on land. I think that growing up here really kind of molded me to who I am today.”

After starting his first job at age 13 Allen was holding down three jobs by his senior year of high school. He was ready to be done with school and get to work.

“I was motivated to work and the school environment didn’t appeal to me ” he says. “I wanted to get out there and work and try to make money to see what I could do.”

He got a job cleaning and detailing boats and it was three years before he decided it was time to keep moving forward.

“I realized that if I didn’t have any more training or any more skills or apprentice under somebody that I wouldn’t learn what I needed to do the restorations that I wanted to do ” Allen says.

Cape Fear Community College’s boatbuilding program provided an opportunity to learn and Allen eventually went to work for Bennett Brothers Yachts a custom boatbuilding company in Wilmington. After learning to complete large projects at the boatyard he decided there was a market for smaller projects and started his own business Riptide Boat Works.

“I felt there was a niche for someone to do a mobile service to go down to the docks and do small stuff that the owners couldn’t do ” he says. “I could show up and take measurements do the work in the shop and come install it.”

It was a big risk but it has paid off. Allen said he now stays busy based on word-of-mouth business alone.

“At first it was scary because there’s no guaranteed check ” Allen says. “Some people thought I was crazy but others encouraged me to do it. I jumped in with both feet and it’s going well. If I do a good job on someone’s boat somebody else will call and have a job for me because they heard about it.”

Another generalization that Allen feels is too narrow is the notion that Gen Xers have rejected traditional family values.

“For me family values are very important ” he said. “I have family living here and we spend holidays together. I see my parents almost every day. I wouldn’t say I stand out from the norm so I would say that stigma’s not accurate.”

He found out how powerful the draw of home and family can be when he moved away for a short time after graduating high school.

“I moved to Atlanta for a year after high school and I hated it ” he recalls. “Being away from the water just killed me. I remember visiting home — driving over the drawbridge and smelling the marsh grass at low tide I remembered that this is home.”

Allen says he feels that his values have been shaped more by growing up at the beach with his family than by global events. The fall of the Soviet Union the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger and the first war in Iraq were events his generation was aware of but it wasn’t until most Gen Xers were adults that they experienced a tragedy that had a direct impact on everyone — September 11.

“In the ’80s and ’90s there was stuff going on but it wasn’t as close to home ” he says. “Everything else is kind of dwarfed by [September 11] because it was such a big ordeal.”

With all of the information that’s now available through television and the Internet he says it’s important for people to make their decisions and form their opinions for themselves. He tries to set a good example and make a positive contribution to the local community.

“I think that we’re more aware to a certain point but a lot of people tend to believe what they see on TV without taking the time to figure out for themselves or see it with their own two eyes. I try to figure things out on my own and worry about what’s going on with me instead of worrying about things I can’t control ” he says.

X on the Beach: Jay Baker

By Abby Cavenaugh

While one of the buzzwords for Generation X might be “slackers ” that’s the last word 37-year-old Jay Baker would use to describe himself.

“I’m really lucky in that I absolutely love going to work every day ” he says. “I’ve got the absolute best job.”

Jay is vice president/chemist at Environmental Chemists Inc. the company his father Johnnie Baker Sr. started. The company performs water quality and wastewater testing which in an odd way seems to fit Johnnie “Jay” Baker Jr. a man who grew up in a beach cottage and spends every free moment he can in or on the water fishing surfing or boating.

Though he was technically born in Mount Olive and spent the first few years of his life in Charlotte Jay says that he considers Wrightsville Beach home. Until he was about 4 or 5 years old the family visited the beach on the weekends and during the summer. But after a while he says the trips to the beach got longer; the time in Charlotte shorter. And so the family made the transition to permanent beach living.

The Bakers never locked the doors to their Greensboro Street home never took the keys out of the car. “I can remember coming back from a trip one time and actually for some reason we did lock the house up ” Jay recalls. “I was probably 5 or 6 and they pushed me through one of the windows and I felt like the hero. I got to go through the house and let everybody in which I guess is a big deal when you’re 5.”

Jay remembers walking to Wrightsville Beach School where he attended kindergarten through second grade and begging his parents to let him take his 13-foot Boston Whaler to school instead of walking as other kids did. The reply: an emphatic “no.” Jay started at private Cape Fear Academy in third grade and finished out his schooling there.

He remembers riding his bicycle to Middle of the Island for breakfast having birthday celebrations at family owned Bridge Tender Restaurant and getting up at 4:30 a.m. to make biscuits at The Crest restaurant when he was 15.

“A lot of people were real inspirational to me when I was a kid ” he says. “A lot of people are still like that but I wish we as a society could get back to that where people took the time to really get to know each other.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is Jay’s love of being near the water. That love started early as at the age of 8 he saved up $150 from mowing lawns to buy his first surfboard. Right after purchasing the 5-foot-8-inch classical glass board from Surf City Surf Shop Jay headed over to the beach access at Greensboro Street and started trying to surf. “If you’ve never been on a surfboard and all of a sudden try to get on a surfboard it’s not the easiest thing to do ” he says. Luckily he got some help from local surfers Walker Golder and Randy Eavey.

After two hours of impromptu surfing instruction the pair had Jay surfing. “I always remember my very first time ” Jay says.

Like surfing Jay developed a love of fishing at an early age too — and by the same sort of trial by fire. “I remember when I caught my blue marlin ” he recalls. “We were on a brand new fishing boat that my dad had just bought and they tied the fishing line to me and said ‘Don’t let go of the fishing rod because if you do you’re going overboard!’ So I held on real tight and ended up catching a blue marlin that probably weighed about 200 pounds.”

In fact Jay had caught a “grand slam” — a sailfish white marlin and a blue marlin — by the time he was just 9.

He headed inland for college attending N.C. State University and earning a degree in communications while coming back to Wrightsville Beach every weekend and working at home during the summers. Shortly after college he briefly held a job as a boat captain before he received a call from a friend in Colorado who convinced him to move there. He quit his job packed up everything he owned and four days later arrived in Steamboat Springs Colorado where he spent the next seven or eight months skiing as often as possible and working three jobs. Before long the coast — and his father — called him back home.

Johnnie Baker offered his son a job and Jay accepted. He’s worked there ever since. Not long after he moved back to Wrightsville Jay realized he needed more education and earned a second degree from UNCW. “I think UNCW really has helped equip me for a lot of my success with business ” he says.

In 1994 his dad’s chemical company was sold while the environmental laboratory remained in the family. Jay is now the vice president of that company. “We do wastewater testing and drinking water testing ” he explains. “We’re a pretty high-tech lab. We do testing for the town of Wrightsville Beach and others. We do a lot of water quality testing in the streams and rivers.”

Although his work requires him to travel a good bit Jay is always happy to get back to the beach. “I really love this place ” he says. “I couldn’t stay away.”

In fact in addition to his childhood memories Jay also met his wife Alice here when she was working at a restaurant in The Landing shopping center. Jay noticed Alice when she was waiting tables and asked one of his friends to set the two up on a blind date. Ironically enough in Jay’s words “it didn’t go over too well.” However a chance encounter years later led to the couple’s nine-year marriage. “She worked at my mom’s store The Fisherman’s Wife and I walked in one Friday afternoon and she was standing on the very top rung of this ladder and I just kind of looked up at her and said to myself ‘I’m gonna marry that girl ’” he recalls adding “I didn’t tell her that. That probably would’ve freaked her out.”

He proposed to Alice near the water over on Masonboro Island one blustery November afternoon. Masonboro remains an important part of Jay’s life. A perfect afternoon he says would be getting on his boat and riding over to Masonboro with his family Alice and their two children — Elizabeth 7 and Carolyn 4. He says he’s trying to raise his children in much the same way he was raised and often turns to his parents for advice.

“There are so many people that I guess helped shaped me ” he says. “Obviously Mom and Dad had a big role in that. All the preachers that have been at the beach churches. The faith community in Wrightsville Beach is such a neat thing. We’ve got such a neat complete community. You can get anything you want on Wrightsville Beach. You don’t ever have to go anywhere else and why would you want to?”

Genuine X: Mary Rice

By Marimar McNaughton

She came on vacation with her family in the early ’90s and discovered The Loop Robert’s Grocery the Trolley Stop’s Surfer Dogs and one of North Carolina’s most beautiful beaches now her hometown.

As a member of Generation X Mary Rice 27 is doing the backstroke in the shallow end of the swimming pool an arm’s length ahead of her heat. She is a successful Wrightsville Beach real estate agent and homeowner.

“I think a lot of people my age get a lack of respect from other generations because we’re branded as angst-ridden or lost or lazy. That’s not really the case. I think our generation just works in a different capacity ” Rice says. “You’ve got guys creating Google out of their Stanford dorm room and making hundreds of millions of dollars ” she adds referring to Larry Page and Sergey Brin Google founders.

The old model — punching the 8-hour time clock five days a week — has been reinvented by the Gen Xers who were weaned on video games and personal home computers.

Rice’s virtually portable office — a Blackberry and a laptop — can be disguised in a backpack and taken anywhere on earth. The successful young real estate agent says “I could do my job in Alaska except for the walk-through when I really need to be there to meet people.”

However her work ethic is no different from her parents’ or her grandparents’. Rice is very much on task. For four consecutive years she has earned her proverbial “golden sandals ” her real estate brokerage company’s highest standard the Century 21 Centurion Award for top real estate sales.

“It’s a big honor ” she says.

But not what she expected after college. She assumed she would be married and starting a family.

“Then I realized what is the rush?” says Rice.

She feels the social climate is warmer to women than it was 25 years ago.

“You can go out and find what you want to do. That’s a great freedom … women keep advancing ” Rice says.

She straddles the past and the present embracing old-fashioned values a love of gardening and cooking the companionship of her bulldogs Oscar and Emmie and her steady beau. When Rice entertains friends for dinner the talk often drifts toward grim realities and U.S. foreign relations.

“Some of the things we’re doing now are going to come back on us tenfold and we’re losing the favor and support of a lot of other nations which is scary. Global warming is an absolute issue for me and the environment but I’m not sure there’s any escape from that. I think you can just try to minimize the damage and keep going. The things that we’re really concerned about are political ramifications ” Rice says.

“We all had to read The Diary of Anne Frank. She said ‘At the heart of everything I believe that people are always good inside.’ I think we think that even though we’ve made some really bad choices. There’s always a way to gain back some trust and some favor and do good for other people which will in turn lessen the strain on international relations ” Rice believes.

The young woman who cut her teeth on cheese toast played Super Mario Brothers watched Double Dare and tuned in to MTV to see “how to be ” just finished reading Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs A LowCulture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman. The book opened her eyes.

“I hadn’t really looked at myself as a Gen Xer. It was like a media term out there that didn’t mean anything to me ” Rice says. “The thing that stands out the most is that people in our generation are cynical optimists which means we are a little disenfranchised with the outside world. We are a little hesitant about what’s going to happen but individually we all think we’re going to succeed despite that. We all sort of have this omnipresent feeling that the world is on a downward slope — not impending doom tomorrow apocalyptic kinda thing — small scale.”

The historic benchmarks that altered her world view include détente the dissolution of the U.S.S.R the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“Everybody’s grandma got them a piece of the Berlin Wall for Christmas one year. We all have one ” Rice says.

“Most recently when I was in college I remember 9/11. That was huge. I was terrified. That was our big shock but I think it shocked a couple of generations and I think it resonated with my generation because we hadn’t experienced that jolt. We weren’t around for Pearl Harbor we weren’t around for JFK. An attack on our own soil that was scary ” Rice said.

“It’s like when you’re little and you get shook by somebody because you are about to run out into the street in front of a car. It’s that kind of feeling ‘Oh wow I didn’t even realize I was in the street.’ I didn’t realize I was in the street. That’s what it felt like ” she says.

In her real estate practice Rice has learned to roll with the punches.

“Probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that there’s multiple solutions to every dilemma. If you’ve got a problem it’s not the end of the world. It may feel like the end of the world you may be very disappointed but there’s always something to figure out or do ” Rice says.

“When things just seem to blow your mind you have to just breathe. Instead of just balling up in your closet and crying you have to go out there and just change it.”

In this age of connectedness is she worried about missing the point of human contact?

Is isolation the next frontier? She wonders.

Rice sends text messages to her same-age colleagues but finds older agents want to sit down with her face-to-face.

“I think that is a potential downfall from all of this easy access. You do lose some human interaction and there’s a lot you can learn by sitting down with someone. It’s different now. You lose a little bit. You’re always gaining and losing it’s a constant state.”

Eloquent Xer Statesman: John Sloan

By Richard Leder

John Sloan was born May 10 1965 the first year of demarcation for Generation X while his father was doing his medical residency at the University of Michigan. As the Vietnam War wound down the family moved to Guam where his father completed his medical training. Sloan was 2 years old. In 1969 two years later arguably the cultural tipping point for the baby boomers the Sloan family returned to Wilmington where his father began a medical practice that would last nearly 40 years. Like his father Sloan’s grandfather was also a Wilmington doctor for 40 years. Sloan attended St. James Church for kindergarten and Cape Fear Academy through ninth grade went to Episcopal High School in Alexandria Va. and attended UNC-Chapel Hill for both undergraduate and law school. He practiced law in Richmond Va. for four years and then in 1994 decided it was time to come home.

Since his return to Wilmington he has become a successful trust and estate planning attorney a husband a father of three active children a fisherman a boater and a T-ball and soccer coach. Not surprisingly he has also become an eloquent elder statesman for his generation.

“The most historical event that I remember having an impact on me was the Wilmington Ten ” Sloan says referring to the violent racially charged riot that froze downtown Wilmington and shined an uneasy spotlight on North Carolina for years to come. The date was February 6 1971 and Sloan was 6 years old.

“It was so foreign because Wilmington to me was an idyllic place ” Sloan says. He remembers hooking up with one of his buddies and roaming the pine groves building forts free to explore his world without fear. “It was the first event that impacted me in a way that I had to act. We had to get home stay at home. I remember being frightened and unsure what was going to happen next. My parents were bringing me home and they were unsure as well. That’s the first time I realized that these events that seemed worldly that you might talk about at school but that happened to other people happened in your own community. I remember the helicopters.”

At Episcopal High School Sloan of course remembers the advent of MTV (launched August 1 1981) as a significant cultural event but prior to that though in the same year he remembers his idyllic world being once more invaded when while playing soccer on the school fields President Reagan was shot on March 30 1981. Sloan and his classmates were hustled back to the dorms Washington D.C. was shut down and his world was once more marked by uncertainty insecurity impermanence and danger.

“That feeling influenced me significantly and perhaps what defines our generation is this transition from black and white television and Leave It To Beaver through the outcroppings of Vietnam and free love to a world that’s settled down in some ways in that we’re back to going to school every day going to work people getting maybe a little more re-focused again moving forward as opposed to maybe sideways in reaction to Vietnam and forced to realize that the real world can have a major impact day-to-day. It’s uncertain and not secure.”

As a recent example Sloan points to the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech and says that this feeling has affected his generation in the way it raises its children.

“We had wooded lots where we could run free for the day within a certain parameter from home but still run free as long as we were home for dinner ” Sloan says. “That was the culture then the boomers raising children. Now our generation … structured events tennis tournaments soccer games we spend time together on the boat. Rarely do we feel afforded the opportunity to let the children just run without knowing they’re in a safe place. The reaction to these invasions into our world while we were young and beyond … I think we live our lives more so sheltering minute-by-minute our children than our parents felt the need to do.”

It is thought that these kinds of security-shattering events imparted a sort of malaise upon the Gen Xers defining them as lost without permanent cultural icons without drive or direction. Sloan’s experience leads him to disagree with that assessment.

“From that perspective some of the terms that define this generation keep in mind I’m on the older side but I would say that my age group coming through it would have been easy to label us at the time of certainly college and maybe a few years after that as not focused not as targeted on success in the business world but when the chips fell and it was time to step up to the plate almost across the board my college friends regardless of how they worked from day one I can’t think of very many who aren’t as I would define it doing well their own families their own professions businesses whatever it may be. I think it may be a little bit of a bum rap for our group.”

Sloan believes it’s possible that the Xers were more laid back than their parents because they might have been handed a little bit more than their parents were in that boomer time. “We probably got started a little later it wasn’t defined and mapped out for us where we wanted to be and how to get there but when it was time to step up we did ” Sloan says.

If the initial reaction to this firsthand understanding that the world is uncertain and not as safe was malaise it wasn’t the final reaction. For Sloan the final reaction was more along the lines of: Now it’s time to do something. We’re going to raise our children carefully and securely and well and in order to do that we have to buckle down and get something done. But for Sloan and many Gen Xers it hasn’t been easy.

“The biggest challenge for us is balance ” Sloan says. “We’re trying to work as hard as our mothers and fathers did but we’re also trying to be as knee-deep in our children’s lives as we can be both to make sure that we shape them know them but also to make sure they’re safe. That balance is probably the toughest issue that I face.”

It is another way in which Generation X has moved in a different direction from its parents. “There’s no question that the roles of parents were more defined when I was a child than they are today. In general the way I saw it growing up during the workweek my dad worked and I spent more time with my mother. On the weekend I went fishing with my dad ” Sloan says. “Now my generation after work there’s a T-ball game to coach; yesterday I coached my daughter’s soccer game. I want to be as much a big part of their life day-to-day as opposed to defined intervals.”

Generation X had to supply its own definition as opposed to the events of the time imposing a definition upon it as the times did for The Greatest and The Boomers. In Sloan’s opinion Gen Xers have done that and done it well. He says “We basically took the tools that we learned from our parents and from our education but found ourselves applying them differently.”