Leisure, Family and the Lifecourse
The patterns of leisure and ideal recreation activities change in accordance to one’s family and life course over time. Leisure can be defined as the status of the mind which is ordinarily characterized by the time that is not obligated and of willing optimism (Veal, 2004 pp.2). Based on this definition, it can be argued that the main component that affects leisure and recreation choices is attitude. Leisure attitudes promote the serene and industrious co-existence with the elements of recreation in one’s environment. If this is the case, what extent does the family make-up and the life cycle of a person affect the person’s leisure attitudes and recreation choices? Does work in regard to the life course of a person and family set-up affect a person’s leisure attitude and recreation choices? Is there danger of leisure being eroded by change in family setups and life course? By analyzing the major conditions that affect the leisure attitudes and recreation choices, the findings will provide a better comprehension of the aspect of leisure in relation to family and life course. On the basis of leisure being affected by changes in family setup and life course, it is argued that the changes are only supposed to affect the attitude of leisure and recreation choices, but are not likely to make leisure erode.
According to Howe & Strauss (2007), a generation is comprised of a number of events that affect people’s lives, and how these events affect people’s characters makes them who they are. The generation is thus shaped by the occurrences or circumstances that a person has passed through in a particular phase of life. In relevance to that, the way in which generations pass cover one phase to the other the same way the behaviors and attitudes of people change (Howe & Strauss, 2007).
In the course of life, that is from childhood to mid-adulthood to elderhood, a person’s perspective of a certain aspect like that of leisure changes over time. Consequently, people of different ages differ in terms of generations (Choi, 2009). Leisure activities practiced by past generations and recreational options vary, but leisure time is still considered through all these generations. The dominant family type also varies in accordance with every generation. The persisting generation X, for example, is characterized by a generation of children that are born in the conscious generation of families living in divorce, working parents and even daycare (Howe & Strauss, 2007).
A person in each generation is involved in different leisure activities. In this era, leisure activities are categorized with the use of technological entertainment gadgets that were not prevalent in the past. Unlike in the past, leisure activities of the elderly are also characterized with recreational activities that involve physical exercises due to many diseases. Individuals in their 60s and 70s were known for telling stories to their young ones. In today’s generation, the young people in their teens are mainly interested in movies and other activities that do not involve the family. The extended family is also reduced by the presence of single, divorced and working parents who are not quite in favor of the idea of maintaining the dominant family type. In the life course of the United States, the country consists of a sequence of generations who exhibit leisure activities but different recreation choices (Howe & Strauss, 2007). The generation typically influences the people of that generation in the sense that is considered the norm or the present leisure activities at the time.
The Gl generation in the United States was made up of individuals born between 1901 to 1924,(Howe & Strauss, 2007). This was a generation whose leisure activities were characterized by memorials, making of films and involvement in editorial material like books (Kahrl, 2008). The era that followed was the Silent Generation, and it was represented by individuals born between 1924 to 1942 (Howe & Strauss, 2007). This generation was involved in activist activities, as it was the era of World War II. It was characterized by a rise in divorces, and their recreation choices rose in favor of their political power. The Boom Generation was from 1943 to 1960 who are now the current elders (Howe & Strauss, 2007). They exhibited strong community spirit and their actions were based on raising responsibly young people who would not become dictators like Adolf Hitler. Their family setup was characterized by full-time mothers whose leisure activities are basically communal. Gender equality began to reveal itself in this generation as women were denoted in the recreation activities that were geared to the nation’s value (Howe & Strauss, 2007). They were involved in the fields of teaching, marketing and arts among others. This was followed by the Generation X that was from 1961 to 1981 (Howe & Strauss, 2007). This era commenced amidst the failing of social institutions. A social institution is based on leisure, economy and education. Having children to develop their conjugal families was the least of their priorities. Their recreational activities were influenced by the attitudes they had towards social institutions resulting from culture. It was categorized by actions portraying a sexual revolution.
This is the era that came with music such as hip-hop because of pop and sexual culture (Howe & Strauss, 2007). Recreation activities were basically based on these views. The Generation X people believed in helping and volunteering recreation actitivities to be better than the civic life of voting to change laws (Twenge, 2010). The sequential era that followed was the Millennium Generation from 1982 to 2005 (Howe & Strauss, 2007). The opinions of people as to their own leisure were based on the culture which was becoming edgy due to the use of messages and technology from big brands.
In this era, Hollywood basically replaced the cinematic existence of children who inspired their parents to become better people through the constructive activities that they conducted. Books became popular recreational activities in the sense of preaching the family values that were eroding (Howe & Strauss, 2007). The relationship of the family ties between these people and their parents, as well as their extended families, was carried on until they became young adults. This was on the basis of being protected against risk. A lot of them were taking up the social institution of graduating into practice and they felt an obligation to balance their work with their life. They sought teamwork as they basically worked in institutions.
The Homeland Generation is the current generation from the 2005 to2025 (Howe & Strauss, 2007). The parents of this generation believe deeply in overprotecting their children from the confused childhood that young people of their generation experienced. Each new generation feels the urge to fill a gap that was not presented by the former generation (Henderson, 2010). The recreational activities of this generation include survivalist actions and ties with parents; and extended families are adamantly replaced with friends and the media.
Among many lifestyles that are presented, the transition from one generation to the other is evident in the leisure attitudes as per the recreation activities evident over time. Leisure practices also vary in relation to the life course in many family bonds. According to Claxton & Perry-Jenkins (2008), newlyweds, new parents and also childless couples’ opinion on leisure vary. They also found that the inclination to communal leisure activities vary from family to family. The PAIR project (Processes of Adaption in Intimate Relationships) shows that leisure patterns of different groups are just different but the leisure activities are not eroded due to the inclination to tasks (Claxton & Perry-Jenkins, 2008). The time devoted to leisure and recreational activities is also different in length.
In new parents, a high percentage of their time is used to finish tasks obligated to them that is used on leisure and recreation (Claxton & Perry-Jenkins, 2008). The recreation time of these parents basically involves the baby (Stalker, 2011). The women’s opinion of leisure time is likely to be associated with family maintenance instead of a means of pleasure. More shared leisure activities in the society are likely to be associated with happy couples, as these activities increase communication (Ekstam et al, 2011). It leads to basic cohesion within families. Due to increased individualism in today’s opinions of leisure and recreation activities, it has led to decreased integration between families. In a couple whose family has a positive attitude towards leisure, these activities contribute to marital satisfaction, and this builds productivity in the family (Johnson et al, 2006).
A person’s experiences in life are determined by the three careers, such as family, leisure and work. Due to development and rise in economic standards, many people are so married to their careers that they become less attached to family and leisure activities. These careers progress over time of a person’s life, and in the same way do these careers change. Family leisure is a basic component in social, economic and political aspects of a person’s life (Trussell & Shaw, 2009).
The whole concept of conditions that affect leisure attitudes and recreation activities is based on the psychological development theory. The theory explains how the opinions of people change over time and era. The idea is that people pass through diverse phases in life based on different views, opinions and priorities of the individual, which affects the attitude towards leisure, work and family. My argument shows that the family setup and life course have a great impact on the changes in leisure activities, but they do not erode leisure time completely. Work also determines a person’s ability to be involved in leisure activities.