Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Raising the Next Generation

For most Boomers, the task of raising kids is nearing the last phases. The majority of Generation Y were born to Boomers, and the next generation, those under the age of 7, which have yet to be named (appropriately, it's too early to label them), are being raised by Gen Xers.

If you're a Boomer, perhaps you've heard of the term "helicopter parent," a term that describes those over-anxious parents (Boomers) who literally hover over their kids at every step of life, from the first one to the most recent one into their first post-college job. The worst kind are called "Blackhawk helicopter parents."

Finally, there is some backlash to this style of co-dependent parenting. Lenore Skenazy, an op/ed columnist for The New York Sun, has launched Free Range Kids, a blog designed to free parents and kids from paranoia. Read the "For or Against" section for horror stories about over-protective parents.

It started with a column in which she shared a story about recently allowing her 9-year-old to ride home on the subway in New York all alone. Before she knew it, she had been labeled "America's Worst Mom."

She retaliated with this brilliant piece on parenting and paranoia.

We're not going to take sides in the argument. But in our work we have seen and studied the impact of parenting decisions on each generation. Boomers were raised by parents filling new homes in new suburbias across the country with modern electronic appliances paid for with newfangled credit cards in the 1950's and early 60's. The result: we're a generation of adults all about instant personal gratification. We're spenders not savers.

Gen Xers were raised by dual income, or single parents, and were the latchkey kids of the 1970's and 80's. Now, they are independent, self-sufficient adults.

Gen Y's had parents who told them they're "special" and give them full credit for just showing up: Remember youth soccer? Most programs don't keep score; everyone participates equally and gets a trophy at the end of the season. No actual performance required. Now those Gen Y's are young adults entering the workforce and looking for credit for just showing up.

Now we have the next generation being raised under a cloud of paranoia. Wonder how that's going to work out.

We Boomers remember the Kinks' Destroyer, which reminds us "Paranoia, will destroy ya."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not surprising boomers aren't into social networking. We grew up with party phone lines and the lack of privacy that afforded. Why would we want to go back to such a lack of privacy?

By the way...someone can't spell -- received the following from you by email.

"One line liek that would look pretty lame, but if it would come up in search engines, and otehr folks who knew her added to it, we'd end up with quite a profile."

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