Yesterday’s Global TV parenting segment was on a topic I am overly familiar with – raising a Generation Z child (children born between the years of 1994-2004), otherwise known as “Generation ME” or the Generation with a great “Sense of Entitlement.” I discussed the many traits of Gen Z’ers, along with the downsides and solutions for raising these kids.
Here is the segment.
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 ten year old never asks for a thing, and my six 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. However 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 I remember we took the boys to Toronto last year, and we drove. 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 were 5 and 8 at the time, apparently preferred 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 five 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 asked 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, big houses, chefs, and trips. No, I mean abundance of love, affection, coupled with possessions that some children do 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. motivated 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. We as their parents have to resist the urge to rescue them, and hover like helicopter parents. 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…