I would like particularly to talk about the need to develop a new style of aging in our own society.
Young people in this country have been accused of not caring for their parents the way they would have in the old country. And this is true.
But it is also true that old people have been influenced by an American ideal of independence and autonomy.
So we live alone, perhaps on the verge of starvation in time without friends.
But we are independent.
This standard American style has been forced on every ethnic group, although there are many groups for whom the ideal is not practical.
It is a poor ideal in pursuing it does a great deal of harm.
This ideal of independence also contains a tremendous amount of unselfishness.
In talking to today's young mothers, I have asked them what kind of grandmothers they think they are going to be.
I hear devoted, loving mothers say that when they are through raising their children, they have no intention of becoming grandmothers.
They were astonished to hear that in most of the world, throughout most of its history, families have been three or four generation families living under the same roof.
We have overemphasized the small family unit, father, mother, small children.
We think it is wonderful if grandma and grandpa, if they're still alive, can live alone.
We have reached the point where we think the only thing we can do for our children is to stay out of their way.
And the only thing we can do for our daughter in law is to see as little of her as possible.
Old peoples' nursing homes, even the best run are filled with older people who believe the only thing they can do for their children is to look cheerful when they come to visit.
So in the end, older people have to devote all their energies to not being a burden.
We are beginning to see what a tremendous price we've paid for our emphasis on independence and autonomy.
We've isolated old people and we've cut off the children from their grandparents.
One of the reasons we have as bad a generation gap today as we do is that grandparents have stepped out.
Young people are being deprived of the things they need most:
perspective to know why their parents behave so peculiarly and why their grandparents say the things they do.
22: What have young Americans been accused of?
23: What does the speaker say about old people in the United States?
24: What is astonishing to the young mothers interviewed by the speaker?
25: What does the speaker say older people try their best to do?