Remember when you were a teenager and adults were decidedly not cool?
Guess what? If you're the parent of a Generation Zer, you’re the uncool one now.
Funny how that happens, but it’s completely understandable. Parents and children have always faced disconnects between their respective experiences with everything from language to pop culture to apparel. Not surprisingly, parents of Generation Z — those born between 1996 and 2010 — are as baffled as ever. Memes? "Snapping" someone?
You might feel confused, perhaps even frustrated, but take a deep breath before unplugging Gen Zers’ laptops or turning off their cell phones. While keeping up with their world of Reddit threads, social tribes, and questionable-looking emojis is challenging, it doesn't require an innate understanding of it all for you to have a positive impact on your children's lives. You just need to get familiar with some basic and intriguing facts about this emerging group of future leaders.
Generation Z: The 10,000-Foot View
Science shows us that Generation Z members are collectively bucking some fascinating teenage trends. According to a study published in the Child Developmentjournal, they are more likely to hang out at home than go out with friends. Instead of engaging in the “bad stuff” their Generation X parents might remember teens doing, they’re sitting in the next room binge-watching Netflix.
This dynamic causes some parents to adopt a hands-off attitude, presuming their kids are safe because they are under the same roof. However, with peers currently serving as their primary mentors, Gen Z children still need to develop strong connections with parents and adult mentors.
Interestingly, we've seen similar behavioral patterns in the past. The Silent Generation, like Gen Z, also grew up during a volatile time. Both generations are smart, skeptical, self-reliant, and scrappy, but technology is the differentiator. Gen Zers won't just take their parents at their word; instead, they instantly Google what their parents say to validate the data before accepting what they've been told.
Despite what feels like unfamiliar territory in parenting, you'll need to develop deep bonds with your sons and daughters. Here are four techniques that you'll both be comfortable with:
1. Get into their headspace.
You don’t have to read your children’s diaries to know what's going on. Just follow their lead: If they’re on Snapchat, download it and experiment with the platform yourself. Play the same video games; watch the same online programs. Does your daughter talk incessantly about a certain YouTuber? Check out your child's favorite influencers for yourself to see what they're all about. The best way to understand anyone is to walk a mile in his Nike LeBron 15s.
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