New York magazine is examining “Grups” or adults who won’t grow up. The author describes a “Grup” as a 40-year-old (or could be in their 30s) man or woman who look, talk, act and dress like they are in their 20s. The author, Adam Sternbergh, says it has eliminated the generation gap and describes how this state of being affects their clothes, their music, their jobs and their parenting.
“…This cohort is not interested in putting away childish things. They are a generation or two of affluent, urban adults who are now happily sailing through their thirties and forties, and even fifties, clad in beat-up sneakers and cashmere hoodies, content that they can enjoy all the good parts of being a grown-up (a real paycheck, a family, the warm touch of cashmere) with none of the bad parts (Dockers, management seminars, indentured servitude at the local Gymboree). It’s about a brave new world whose citizens are radically rethinking what it means to be a grown-up and whether being a grown-up still requires, you know, actually growing up….”
“A number of trends have nudged us in this direction, from the increasingly casual dress codes at work to the persistent marketing of counterculture “rebellion” as an easily attainable, catchall symbol for cool. During the dot-com boom, businesses not only allowed people to come to work in clothes they might usually wear to clean out the attic but encouraged this as a celebration of youthful vivacity and an upheaval of the fusty corporate order. Suits were thought to be the provenance of, well, suits. The dot-com bubble burst, but the aesthetic remained, as part of the ongoing rock star–ification of America. Three-day stubble and shredded jeans are the now-familiar symbols of the most desirable kind of affluence and freedom. So why would anyone dress up anymore? A suit says, My mother made me wear this to go to a bar mitzvah. The Grup outfit says, I’m so cool, and so damned good at what I do, I can wear whatever the hell I want. At least when I go out to brunch.
Here’s how it affects their parenting:
“See, Grups aren’t afraid of parenting. Grups don’t avoid having kids. Grups love kids. In part, though, this is because Grups find kids to be perfect little Mr. Potato Head versions of themselves. Of course, there’s more to Grup parenting than simply molding your kid’s tastes. You must be vigilant that you don’t grow up and become uncool yourself. “I recognize that changes and sacrifices are necessary. I do occasionally wake up before nine these days,” says (Neal Pollack, the author of the forthcoming memoir Alternadad: The True Story of One Family’s Struggle to Raise a Cool Kid in America,) of parenthood. “But I didn’t want to lose touch with the world’s cultural progress. I didn’t want to freeze myself in time.” So instead of playdates, Pollack invites other cool dads and their kids over for playing (kids), beers (dads), and sampling new CDs (everyone). Or he packs up his toddler for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Though that plan didn’t work so well. “It was really hot and crowded,” he says. “And the music sucked.” His son apparently concurred.”
“I don’t mean to be so hard on Pollack, who does seem genuinely interested in exploring a new kind of parenting—a kind that doesn’t involve totally losing any sense of who you were ten minutes before your baby was born. In fact, I got a much saner version of more or less the same philosophy from Adam Levite and Francine Hermelin, a couple in their thirties (he’s 38, she’s 36) with three (yes, three) kids: Asa, 6; Dora, 3; and Ester, 0.5. Levite directs music videos for artists like Beck and Interpol, and Hermelin spends most of her time with the kids while also organizing events like Downtown for Democracy’s mock election, in which 8-year-olds ran for president. Levite wears cool little geometric glasses and Hermelin wears slightly thinner cool little geometric glasses. The family lives in a large white envy-inducing loft apartment in Tribeca that looks like a design-magazine photo shoot. As you enter, you’ll find Levite’s guitar collection propped against the wall, right next to which you’ll find similar, miniature versions of the same guitars for his son, Asa. “From a very young age, we’ve always decided to try not to, you know, vanilla the kids in the things that we present to them,” says Levite. A-ha! Here we go—thunder music. “We’ve been listening to the Beatles since the moment they were born. They’re classic pop songs, but not full of anger and angst. And we still listen to some kids’ music. Music for Aardvarks is really great.”
This article is really long so click the link and read it all for the full explanation of this “movement.”
Anytime I read a trend story in New York publication, I always wonder is this just a New York thing? Is this just happening in Brooklyn and Manhattan so then the writer feels like this is the new state of being across the board? So are you seeing this in Atlanta? Are you seeing this in yourself? Are you seeing this in your friends?
What extent throws you into this category: Is it trying to share good music with your kids? Is it trying to dress younger? Is it not imposing boundaries on your kids?
I definitely don’t think we dress like we are in our 20s. I do think we try to impart some taste to them in music and TV shows. That doesn’t mean we’re pushing stuff from the ’80s. Michael will bring home CDs for Rose to check out – usually modern stuff—and they do share similar taste in music. I don’t hesitate to tell them if a show is just awful – such as “Pokemon” cartoons. This generally leads to a discussion in aesthetics, animation and voice acting. They make me support my opinion. And sometimes they convince me that a show is OK. For example, the new “My Little Pony series Friendship is Magic” is much better than the old series.
I like the question toward the end of the article of what happens to these kids? Do they turn out like Alex P. Keaton — an exact opposite of their parents?
So do you think there a generation gap between you and your kids? Are you trying to live like you are 20 but with kids? When are you sharing knowledge and opinions or pushing a Grup agenda?