Are you raising Generation Z?

My company’s technology partner sent out a fantastic email in advance of the July 4th holiday:

If the Declaration of Independence were coming out in 2017, the typical signer of the great document would be a Generation X-er. (The 56 signers averaged 44 years old, and 31 of them would fall in the “Gen X” age range.) Maybe more surprising: Our Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration would include more Millennials (14) than Baby Boomers (11).

Only eight of the signers had reached the age of 56 (the average age of CEOs in America today).

The formation of this nation 241 years ago was a great example of disruption and a generational shift, and it changed the world. So, with Independence Day this month, we urge you to consider this: What legacy are YOU leaving?

A lot of us reading the Sigma Kappa blog fit into the Baby Boomers, Generation X or Millennial (Gen Y) generations. For me, I straddle Gen X and Millennial since I was born in 1979. Sometimes, the years of late ’70s to early ’80s are called the “Oregon Trail Generation,” since we came of age at the cusp of technology.

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What excites, and worries, me is that we are also the parents of Generation Z, or iGen. Per the marketing firm Frank N. Magid, those in Gen Z or iGen are “the least likely to believe that there is such a thing as the American Dream.” The Great Recession, which began in 2008, left this generation acutely watching how their parents struggled and recovered from the economic turmoil. Gen Z or iGen also has not known a world without a feeling of unsettlement and insecurity, caused by the aftermath of the September 11th attacks and the global war on terrorism. We, as parents to this generation, need to remember that these feelings of insecurity might trickle into other areas of our children’s lives, such as their friendships, schoolwork and social media presence. An issue that seems trivial to us, with the childhood experiences we’ve had that have grown into adulthood understanding, could be a huge concern for our children.

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While Gen Z strives to showcase a determined self-assurance, we still need to promise them that it is okay, and important, to be vulnerable as well. Nobody is perfect all of the time. It’s okay to go hours, or days, without posting something on social media. They can, and should, take a break. Their true friends will show in times of crisis and stick with them through the ugly parts. The life lessons they are learning now may not show their relevance until years down the road.

Just like in 1776, the country and world are going through disruptions and a generational shift as the world becomes more technologically connected and identities shift. How can we raise our kids to strive for a goal as big as the Founding Fathers’?

Jennifer Helton Holt

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