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I know we are all very proud of our hobby and hope that our children and/or grandchildren would take an interest in it someday.     WELL it's not happening in my family.

Last year shortly after my youngest son bought his first house with a basement, after living in a townhouse for 15 years .  I thought it might be a good idea for him and his two sons who are 10 and 13 to have some trains in that huge basement.  They all agreed so I took them 4- 4' X 4' tables that I had used for portable layouts.  I had lots of O-27 track and switches, engines and cars.  I was able to set up a 4' X 12' table with a 4' dog leg.  There were two ovals with a siding on the long part and a freight yard with 3 spurs on the 4' leg .

Now they tell me that they don't play with it and have no interest  so come and take it back.  I'm sure that I'm not the first grandparent this has happen too.   I know it's hard to compete with video games and sport activities available to children these days.

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If my son doesn't want to keep the tables is there anyone in the Baltimore / Annapolis area who could use them ?   Maybe someone who is just starting out and needs some help.

Thanks,

Doug

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Doug,

I wouldn't take it so hard.  There are kids who are still wild about trains.  Not my kids, but my brother's son loves trains and is in Havre de Grace.  I'll call him and see if he is interested if you don't mind.  His son just turned 8.  Yes video games are part of his life, but he sure does love trains too. 

My daughters are now almost 26, 22 and almost 12.  My 12 year old enjoyed DCS for a little while, but it didn't last.  I'm probably going to give her trains to my brother as well.

For me, what told me this hobby is not dead is when a 4 year old started schooling me on classes of steam locomotives when I was operating at a public event about 10 years ago.  He  knew his Northerns from his Pacifics all the way through the Whythe system.  I was quite impressed. 

It is interesting as you post this today as I started moving all of the trains that fill a 10X20 storage unit to my house to force me to go through what I will keep and what will go.  I hope to find a good home for a lot of my 3 rail as well.

Best to you.

So far, my twin 9YO grandsons love to play with the layout I'm building. Of course, I keep expanding under the guise of  "they love it", and so far so good. My daughter puts limits on iPad time, so that helps, but I do fear the day the boys just don't care. One is a high-functioning autistic lad, and trains have been good for his motor skill develpement, to wit: if it's not on the tracks correctly, it doesn;t go. He snips up and colors paper for graffiti and has done several cars and a dummy GP9. Got tape everywhere....but its part of the gig. When he puts his Lego figures on the gangways of my brand new Dash-8s, I cringe and smile while I hope for the best.

Take heart Boomer, someday when they have had carpal tunnel and eye strain from years of computers and other devices, bad knees and hip replacements, they'll remember that they had other alternatives presented to them by a Grandfather who loves them very much! They won't forget that part....

Have to start earlier. My grandson is 4 and absolutely loves trains. My wife and I bought him a Thomas set when he was two and he plays with it all the time. He is also completely blown away by my layout. When he visits our house, you literally can't get him out of the train room. Soon he will be able to operate a handheld. We plan to use a similar approach with his younger brother, who is 1. He is already showing interest in the Thomas set.

Hopefully, the love of trains will continue for both boys for the rest of their lives.

Pat   

I have two sons.  They grew up with model trains, mine AND their own.  Once they hit the early teens, they packed that stuff away & never looked back.  They are now in their mid-40s and have no children.  When visiting, they look over my layout for several minutes and that's it.  They never had the desire for this hobby (or real trains) and never will.  Hunting, fishing, and camping for one, and the other loves everything with a motor and most of that as cars, motorcycles, boats, bicycles plus anything on the snow.
The trains stops here at my station.
Dennis

@boomer0622 posted:

Thanks for all your thoughts.  I did try to get them started with one of those wooden sets when the youngest was about 4 and they played with it a lot.  But they had the space for anything larger.


GG1,  that will be fine.

Doug,

I'll let you know.  My brother has a pickup so if he is interested, I'm sure he will be able to pick it up.  He also has a basement for a layout of about that size.  In that sense he is luckier than me.  In AZ we don't have basements and I model scale O.  Two strikes on my modeling! 

I chuckled hard when I read this title.  I couldn't imagine what would unfold in the thread.  But it had nothing to do with what popped into my mind when reading the title.

My 8 yr old grandson has been living with me for more than 3 years now, with no apparent end in sight.

So my disappointment is on a different level than yours.

Whether my son or grandson enjoys trains pales in comparison to them both becoming self sufficient and responsible for their actions.  So if yours are thriving, then I tip my hat to you.

As for children in general, there are a plethora of other interests available to them that weren't available to us in the 50s, 60s, 70s etc.

Some of it has to do with what their friends find interesting. For many of us, toy trains were the big thing in our youth. Mutual interest kept some of the kids going.

Two of my playmates had trains, but little interest. Two others had layouts and were more interested. Six kids on one block, all with trains kept the enthusiasm up.

Last edited by RoyBoy

It occurs to me, that my interest in model trains came at an early age. However my enjoyment and regard, only came after I had travelled many a mainline mile; on the passenger trains of the NYCRR. I believe if one took a youngster on a well orchestrated train trip ( not an excursion ) but a real overnight trip, with stories, hotels, restaurants, local attractions at a destination. A lifelong impression would be made.

I think those kind of adventures between grandparents and grandchildren will endear youth with an curiosity fueled by memories. Then they would be more excited for that first Christmas train of their own.

I have one child, a daughter who has no interest in my trains but I couldn’t be more proud of her. She spent her childhood in the system, became our foster at age eleven and we adopted her at age twelve. She excels in everything she does. Gold award in high school., service superstar award at her first job at Six Flags. She just graduated from college but we were told that she didn’t have the ability to finish high school when we adopted her. She has a full time job and works part time at a stable where she boards her horse.  She has attended many train shows with me but not because she likes trains but because she likes to hang out with me.   She has been nothing but pure joy for my wife and myself so for me to say I am disappointed in her because she doesn’t share an interest in my hobby, l don’t think so.

@Keith k posted:

I have one child, a daughter who has no interest in my trains but I couldn’t be more proud of her. She spent her childhood in the system, became our foster at age eleven and we adopted her at age twelve. She excels in everything she does. Gold award in high school., service superstar award at her first job at Six Flags. She just graduated from college but we were told that she didn’t have the ability to finish high school when we adopted her. She has a full time job and works part time at a stable where she boards her horse.  She has attended many train shows with me but not because she likes trains but because she likes to hang out with me.   She has been nothing but pure joy for my wife and myself so for me to say I am disappointed in her because she doesn’t share an interest in my hobby, l don’t think so.

Keith,  One of the best posts I have ever read.  Family, relationships, appreciation, maturity, responsibility.  Wow!

Fostering and adoption runs deep in our family.  Love the story, wish you all the best.  Tom

@Keith k posted:

I have one child, a daughter who has no interest in my trains but I couldn’t be more proud of her. She spent her childhood in the system, became our foster at age eleven and we adopted her at age twelve. She excels in everything she does. Gold award in high school., service superstar award at her first job at Six Flags. She just graduated from college but we were told that she didn’t have the ability to finish high school when we adopted her. She has a full time job and works part time at a stable where she boards her horse.  She has attended many train shows with me but not because she likes trains but because she likes to hang out with me.   She has been nothing but pure joy for my wife and myself so for me to say I am disappointed in her because she doesn’t share an interest in my hobby, l don’t think so.

Keith, your wife and you are true heroes. And, congratulations to your daughter!

Thank you for sharing your story.

—Matt

Doug,

I can understand your disappointment. My 3 kids are now in there 30's. We never had a permanent layout until they nearly moved out. Every year there was a Xmas tree display layout though, which they all enjoyed. From HO to Lionel to even LGB. As interests changed, so did the scale. The involvement really developed as we started building an actual Xmas village display with Department 56 Dickens ceramics. O gauge became the scale of choice after I purchased my first MTH engine. MTH & DCS changed it all for me and my kids, with all the bells & whistles, pun intended, & command control. At least till they moved out.

My oldest son lost interest once in high school & never really cared again. My middle son & daughter looked forward to it every year until they moved out. Now on there own, none of them have any interest at the moment. For a few years after they were all on their own, I lost interest in the Xmas display, mostly since I built a permanent layout in the basement.

I now have 2 grandsons, & even before they were able to crawl, they've been exposed to trains and of course many other things. That still hasn't re-ignited the interest in my oldest son enough, to have trains in his house for his boys. I did purchase an inexpensive Lionel G gauge Polar Express, which would get set up once in awhile, until it broke.

My grandsons, now 6 & 4, look forward to running my trains & slot cars every time they come over our house. Setting up the Xmas village is also something they look forward to each year. By the way, I constantly remind them that the trains are not just mine, but ours. Of course we have Thomas & friends, an O gauge & scale Polar Express, the Harry Potter Hogwarts Express, besides my collection of MTH & Lionel O scale trains. I even built an O gauge "Play Safe" streamlined pacific from theMax Fleischer classic 1936 animated cartoon, for my grandsons 5th birthday present during the Covid19 shut down. Of course I had to build a temporary outdoor layout so we could run the engine & stay socially distance safe. I just happened to think how ironic that the movie name was "Play Safe"!

After all this history & effort to explain my situation, is there a guarantee my grandsons will be life long model train enthusiasts. Probably not, but for now, I'm enjoying the ride as long as it lasts!

One thing's for sure, as "endless tracks" mentioned above, they'll remember that they had other alternatives presented to them by a Grandfather who loved them very much! Hopefully their whole life.

Enjoy your grandsons & your trains,

Joe

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My son always liked trains when he was a kid but what he wanted to play with first was rockets, until we found he practically had to leave town to shoot them off. He switched over to RC cars and he still races them almost every weekend. It's not uncommon to be at his place and watch him fly a small drone around the room.

We've always lived along the east coast and as far back as I can remember tracks were being abandoned for routes farther west and out of the more populated areas. I'm not sure when the last time he was in a car that had to wait for a train crossing. I have to keep reminding myself that his experiences growing up were different.

No kids of our own, but we occasionally have others' kids come to our trains room. They think it is really neat … at least until they take out their iPhones

Both of our grown kids have no interest in trains other than a polite look-see whats different from last time they were here (both are out of staters).  And as for the iphones they are the bane of society.  I have one but all I know how to do is make or receive calls (really!).  I have no clue as how to do anything else with it and just amazed seeing elderly and 3 year olds doing so much with them.  I inquired at a local community college if they had introductory course on phones and they looked at me like I had antlers growing out of my head.

As others have said, it's your hobby and, hopefully, it has enriched your life in many ways.  It would be nice if the train interest continued to the next generation but there are any number of things (today as well as in times past) to attract the attention and interests of the young.

Just to sort of put our interest in perspective, I was a kid at a time when modern toy train mythology has it a majority of kids were interested in trains and had one of their own.  My Dad's job meant we moved almost once every year to year and a half and in all of those schools attended and neighborhoods lived in I was the only person I knew of who was interested in trains.  Because of magazines like Model Railroader I knew there were others who enjoyed the hobby but I never ran into anyone locally. In short, even then, interest in trains was not something for the majority.

I don't understand the mindset that our kids (or grandkids, or ggkids, or whatever) need to be interested in the same things we are.

My father thought that way. He was big into antique gun collecting and Civil War reenacting. It was not that I wasn't interested in what he was into, but that I wasn't as passionate in what he was into. I've been a reenactor for many years, but not every weekend like him. Therefore, he ignored me because I didn't go with him to every event. My kids weren't into what he was into so he had no relationship with his grandkids. Very sad indeed.

My 3 daughters are adults. One has picked up my musical performance talents, and one wants my antique car really badly. We have no grandchildren (yet, or maybe never. Doesn't bother me). As for the trains, My one married daughter asked for a postwar set to run around her Christmas tree, which she enjoys very much. I drug my youngest daughter to York for several years, which she actually enjoyed, until she aged out and got a part time job and started college. My collection is inventoried and valued. If they decide to keep or sell, I really don't care. All three of my kids are artistic, musical and my youngest is in to fish-keeping. Not my interests per say, but I love 'em just the same, with or without choochoos.

One of my 4 year old grandsons came to visit last month from Indiana, and I couldn't wait to show him my completed layout in the basement and let him run it.  I had even bought him an engineer's cap.

Well, I took him down to the basement, and turned on the trains, and he was mildly interested in working the throttle.   When I gave him the engineer's hat and put it on his head, he took it off and handed it back to me and said he didn't want to wear it.

I cajoled him a bit and said, "But if you're the Engineer, you haft'a wear a cap."

He replied, "Well then Pop-Pop, YOU wear it!"

After about 6 minutes of running the train, he got down from the stool and said, "I'm going back upstairs.  Nana knows where the REAL toys are."

When we were kids, the only competition that a model train set had was a Sorry Board, three black and white t.v. stations, and an old bike lying on its side in the driveway.

Those days are over.

When I was a pre-teen, I got really interested in HO trains for about 4 years or so.  But then, around age 17, I started hunting, which was totally real, exciting,  and not an imaginary endeavor, and I was through with trains.

Mannyrock

@Keith k posted:

I have one child, a daughter who has no interest in my trains but I couldn’t be more proud of her. She spent her childhood in the system, became our foster at age eleven and we adopted her at age twelve. She excels in everything she does. Gold award in high school., service superstar award at her first job at Six Flags. She just graduated from college but we were told that she didn’t have the ability to finish high school when we adopted her. She has a full time job and works part time at a stable where she boards her horse.  She has attended many train shows with me but not because she likes trains but because she likes to hang out with me.   She has been nothing but pure joy for my wife and myself so for me to say I am disappointed in her because she doesn’t share an interest in my hobby, l don’t think so.

Thank you for sharing this story, it I think will make my day. I know it is a bit off topic but it shows what love and attention can do for children who others think are incorrigible. I saw that up close and personal at the church I used to belong to, a couple that more than a few people claim shouldn't be allowed to raise kids, adopted a family of 4 kids that the system said were hopeless..and those kids are as beautiful family of kids as you ever would want to see.  And yeah, if the only disappointment we have is them not liking trains, well.....

I think a lot of people's memories of when they were kids is kind of filtered through their own passions and such. Some of you are a bit older than I am, I am 58, so my experiences may be a bit different, but the reality was when growing up few kids relatively were into trains, let alone 3 rail O.

I know in the 1950's lionel trains were something of a big deal but I have older cousins and such who grew up then, and even then it wasn't as big a hobby as we might think if what they tell me is true. A lot of that was trains around the Christmas tree and then away for rest of the year.  Point being for all the kids into them, a lot weren't. And yes, back then there were other temptations too, the idiot box, all the fad toys, etc, too.  The other thing is the standard narrative, you hit your teens, discover cars, adolescence hits and other things become more important.

My son wasn't interested in trains and if he ever gets around to having a family I doubt his kids would be. On the other hand his passion was music and he is a young, world class musician in his mid 20's, how can I be disappointed in that? (if you wonder why I don't buy vision line engines, buy a huge basement with a house attached, etc, well.....music is like that, the amount of support is staggering and the returns take a long time, into adulthood ). I get a little angry when I hear people knocking kids for not being into trains, they are too into their phones and video games, too lazy, as if being into trains is somehow a sign of them being a good person. Our generations were going to be mindless zombies watching tv (my generation was gonna be serial killers because we watched The Roadrunner cartoons and the like).

It is just different times.  The big difference today is that a lot more adults are into O , mostly three rail, it is definitely an adult hobby for the most part, which is very different than it was back then. Again, even back in the day a lot of the activity was holiday trains, how many kids had permanent layouts back then? And most of those adults, if they had exposure as kids, went through a dormant time when they hit their teens and rediscovered them as an adult. I think trains are a wonderful thing but kids have their own things that drive them. I love rock music, my son is a classical musician (violinist in a chamber group), life takes weird turns

Not my son. He has the train gene. I happily play with my trains, as I have for many decades. If I have to go to a  home, I will watch those trains on my lap top, as they are all on video. I have made certain adjustments as I get older (for example, setting specific goals, instead of just starting and going until I get tired). I find going up and down the basement steps is now a form of aerobics.  Before, I never gave it a thought.  I also have a garden railroad, which likewise provides exercise and enhances mobility. I will go out with my cold hand on the throttle, notch 8, to borrow a phrase. Mark

Last edited by barrister.2u

This subject comes up often.  The world has changed...l never had to hitch up a buggy (my mother did to get to school in 1930's) so l only have a passing interest in horses (KY  Derby). I hung out at rural RR station in steam era ...now it is hard to FIND one.  Would bet a lot of kids have never seen trains, except as long strings of anonymous graffitied high-cubes. Keith's  story in adoption has a parallel....friends had a boy, wanted more..they adopted two, and she, (and the boys) all excelled...she is a corporate CPA , one adopted boy a managing Detroit auto engineer, who owns and flies planes,  other a Frisco area computer whiz.  None interested in trains, or their dad's vintage car.  I'm a car nut, too, every kid l knew growing up was, today's kids, in service shop l was in recently couldn't drive my car.  I had to move it around shop and test drive it!  Shocked me! It is a fairly recent model.  Every kid THEN had a train, too....

 

Good Morning Everyone,

The title of the post evoked many different feelings and of course, like others, I was tempted and now have indulged. I have read through every comment posted so far, some being very beautiful. I must say I take the author's commentary differently than most have. That could be because I try to be positive and empathetic in general.

First of all we are all entitled to our own feelings and they are our own. The author expressed his disappointment that his son and grandchildren were no longer interested in trains. That's a valid and honest feeling. I don't have any children or grandchildren but if and when I do, I would hope that my train bug would latch on to them as well. I also, wish there were more people my age into trains. These are my feelings and no one else has to have them but me. Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having these feelings.

I believe there is a big picture to look at here. I'm not saying this is what the author was thinking but I many times have thought "is this the end for model trains as we know it". That is another thread in itself. I agree with other comments about time, generation, and other interests and certainly don't believe anything is wrong with having them. I myself have other interests outside of my love of trains.  One of those other interests is a passion. The author did not say if people don't like trains that makes them a bad person or anything of the sort. Maybe some have, but HE did not. However, we do know what WE have learned from being model railroaders and the friendships many of us have gotten from it. Why would we not want our offspring to love them like we do with such benefits? Not to mention how it may have been one of the bonding activities with our fathers, grandfathers, uncles, other family members, friends, etc.

Again, Doug was stating something he is feeling with his individual situation and he brought some of us in with an interesting title to his post. I don't for a minute, believe he is unhappy or disappointed in his son or grandchildren in general but simply wishes they had more interest in the hobby. Though many of the comments went the other way, most of us probably wish the same.

Dave

Last edited by luvindemtrains

I'm kinda in the same situation you are except differently. I'm the youngest of three boys, My two brothers never really got into trains as I did.  Only one is married with a daughter, who also has had a daughter.  No interest there either really.

So I'm in the middle of moving and going through my head what am  I going to do with all these trains.

I don't see my kids having any interest but my nephew loves seeing train layouts at other's houses.  I may have to speed up my construction to capture his interest before he reaches teenage years.
Everyone has their hobby interests.  I just hope model railroading keeps on going.  From what I see on the internet, the interest in general is still extremely strong. 

I did want to comment, my post was really in general and it wasn't aimed at the OP or anyone in particular. I do get mad when people blame the attention span of young people or imply they are lazy, just want to play video games, etc, but that was not the OP in the start of this thread (this does come up in these threads, though, a lot, as if not wanting to be into trains is  character flaw; I don't like golf, for me it is a waste of good time, but I don't think that people doing it are wasting their time, not does it mean I am deficient because I don't like it ) .  It is very natural and human to be disappointed when things don't work out as you might have wished, with my son because of his career it is unlikely that he will be around where we live much, he will be traveling as a musician. I always dreamed of things like being able to share things more often with him, but life plays out as it does

I have four young grandchildren, two of whom are into trains and two of whom could care less despite all being exposed to the hobby in the same way - I don't fret about it - different strokes for different folks.

We live in a different world today where, at least here in the northeast, it's rare for kids to even see a real train in their day-to-day lives and they have so many more choices on how to spend their activity time than we ever did.

How many of us can be absolutely sure that, if we grew up today instead of decades ago, that we would have the same interest in trains and model railroads ?

Last edited by Richie C.

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