The changing roles of a lifetime

We have many roles as we travel through our lives. Photo: Teaching a grandchild/ Flickr

MISSOURI, October 23, 2013 — Our roles have changed throughout our lives. As children, we sat in the back seat of the car, which for some of us was a rumble seat in the back of a Model A or T Ford. We enjoyed the ride while at the same time asking the universal questions “when are we going to get there,”” when are we going to eat” “how long are we going to stay” or announcing the ever-present, ” I have to go to the bathroom.”

Now adults, we have the role of driving that car, and in this role, we have the additional responsibility of driving safely while obeying the laws to assure passengers and pedestrians are kept out of harm’s way. As the parents of those children sitting in the back seat, we are now answering those same questions that we once asked. Remembering that we were once the children may help us to remain patient with those who are asking the questions today.  

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With the role as a student, we are provided the opportunity of an education with a responsibility to learn and to move up the academic ladder. This is a role of acceptance of a school learning opportunity to prepare us to be a part of not only the work force but also society.

Students also have a responsibility to the parents and others who have supported them throughout this educational process. They must do their very best –that is all anyone should expect, and if you do this, then you have succeeded. 

In growing up we are in the role of a recipient of food, lodging and love from our parents and guardians. We expect without thought that the food and shelter will be there as it is automatic. We expect that support in everything we do, again mostly without thought. 

Children also often lack any concept of the value of a dollar. There is a rather rude learning curve when they go out on their own.

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Adults, and parents, see their roles changing from recipient to giver. This new rold comes along with the inherent responsibilities of providing shelter, values of society, and unconditional love.

One of the most important responsibilities for a parent is to provide direction for the young.   

Continuing on through life, you move from parent to the ‘patriarch” of the family. You achieve that after completing a lifetime of various roles life presents.  

One might think that this role is not important, but it is actually critical. Patriarchs continue as positive role models. They can provide alternative solutions to problems while giving ultimate decision-making responsibility to the parent.

Patriarchs also inherit the honor of sitting at the head of the table for meals at the family get together. They now sometimes get to ride in the back seat of the car and relax rather than sitting behind the wheel. Where did the time go?

They also get to sit in the most comfortable chair at Christmas time when presents are being open. They are really on the sidelines of everyday problems incurred in life, but they still are there to give their love, support and advice when called upon.

Wear your badge of a patriarch proudly as you have earned it.  

However, that’s from a time and place I am from- 


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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.

Charles is a fifty-four-year career in technology retiring at the directors level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a free-lance columnist, published three books, over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, radio interviews, one television commercial and finally married for sixty-five years, four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grand children. 

Charles is also a Navy veteran.

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