I’m a Generation X‘er… you all know about these… many of you fall into this category.
“Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1980) came of age in an era of two-income families, rising divorce rates and a faltering economy. Women were joining the workforce in large numbers, spawning an age of “latch-key” children. As a result, Generation X is independent, resourceful and self-sufficient. Unlike previous generations, members of Generation X work to live rather than live to work. They appreciate fun in the workplace and espouse a work hard/play hard mentality.” (About.com)
The Generation Y‘ers (born in the mid eighties), now in their twenties, are entering the workforce with their own character traits.
“Generation Y grew up with technology and rely on it to perform their jobs better. Armed with BlackBerrys, laptops, cellphones and other gadgets, Generation Y is plugged-in 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This generation prefers to communicate through e-mail and text messaging rather than face-to-face contact. Nurtured and pampered by parents who did not want to make the mistakes of the previous generation, Generation Y is confident, ambitious and achievement-oriented.”(About.com)
Then there are our kids, those born between 1994-2004, Generation Z.
“Generation Z Born into a downturn in the economy, they will have very different views on life. Generation Z is highly connected, many of this generation have had lifelong use of communications and media technologies such as the World Wide Web, instant messaging, text messaging, MP3 players, mobile phones and YouTube, earning them the nickname “digital natives”.
Some can be described as impatient and instant minded, and tending to lack the ambition of previous generations. Psychologists are claiming an “acquired Attention Deficit Disorder” since their dependency on technology is high and attention span is much lower, as opposed to previous generations who read books and other printed material, along with watching live television.
They are also more consumer-oriented than the previous generation. In short, from the very beginning, Generation Z-ers have grown up in a world that is all about connecting through technology. Zs are a more sophisticated generation who will use technology and their own small networks and innovations to make a difference.” (Wikipedia and Annalise Walliker)
My husband and I have prided ourselves on raising unspoiled children. With the odd meltdown here or there, I can honestly say, these are good boys. (My seven year old never asks for a thing, and my four year old just wants candy all day, but overall… nice kids). We have, however, spoiled them with love, affection, nurturing, and always encouraged them to blossom and spread their wings. But lately, I have started to see a tiny shift. This sense of entitlement setting in, that we are trying so desperately to nip in the bud.
We are sometimes a driving family… we drive to Maine in the summer (that’s five hours), we have driven a slew of times to Toronto with the kids, we have even driven to New York. The kids LOVE road trips. We throw a few DVDs and snacks in the car, and off we go. Our boys are amazing travelers… no matter what the method of transportation– they can fly 6 hours without saying boo, they can ride in the car for hours. But last weekend, we had a family party in Toronto, and drove with the boys. We were expecting the usual easy breezy drive. Well, it wasn’t our usual 10/10 easy. It was more like a 6/10. Why? well, our boys who are now 4 and 7, apparently prefer to FLY. They don’t pay, but they like the good life. 🙂
After hearing some kvetching in the back seat, I simply said, “It’s okay boys, we can turn around and go home or not go to The Hockey Hall of Fame if you guys don’t like the drive. Or better, we can leave you at home with your grandparents and we can go alone. No problem. It’s a simple choice.” Well, that shut them up quickly, but we still got a, “Why couldn’t we fly?” and better yet, my four year old said, “Why aren’t we going to Florida this weekend?” Wow.
And believe me, we ain’t no Spielbergs or Jolie-Pitters, but I ask you the way Oprah asks her guests… “How you do you raise unspoiled kids without a sense of entitlement when they are surrounded by abundance?” And again, I reiterate, I do not mean abundance like private jets, drivers, chefs, and trips. No, I mean abundance of love, coupled with possessions that some children have today, due to the great personal and financial sacrifices made by their parents… private school for some, 1-2 cars per family, extra-curricular activities, some dinners out, some vacations, ipods, or ipads or Wii, etc… How do you raise a child to be appreciative and unlazy?
With the large number of women in the workforce today, and parents more exhausted than ever before, moms and dads sometimes find themselves overcompensating for issues they feel guilty about… such as divorce, or working many hours. We’ve all been guilty of plopping our kid in front of Baby Einstein just to get a moment’s reprieve. But we as their parents are the role models. Children don’t only learn by listening, they learn by watching. It is up to us to model proper behavior and practice restraint when it comes to demands placed upon us by these Gen Z’ers.
I also know that to grow, kids need to feel some sadness and deprivation. They have to hear “no,” sometimes, even when it’s easier to say “yes.” They have to get a little knocked down. They have to experience failure. It is through failure that they grow- I can tell you from experience, failure is the biggest gift.
So today, the “on the fence” question remains: How do we shower our Gen Z’ers with both love and discipline, and how do we as parents learn the fine balance between not giving enough, and giving too much?
I’d love to hear from you on this debate…