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Gen X Parents Vs Gen Z Kids: Are We Controlling or Are They Rude?

via Daily Prompt: Expect

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The day I became a mother, I held my baby in my hand and made a promise that I would give this child all my love without expecting anything in return. “Expectations reduce joy” , I knew it and I did not want to wallow in misery every-time my child did not meet some insane expectation I had of her.  That day, I decided I would not push my children to get the highest grades in school, I wouldn’t put pressure on them to win at everything they participated in and I would allow them to grow into healthy, happy individuals.

As I watched them grow, I felt stronger and more positive as I had not set any expectations. I watched other parents in school around me, feeling exasperated when their child lost a mark in the exam or did not win the trophy. Little losses which hardly matter in the course of life.

Then my children grew into teenagers and like all teens had mood swings, were rude with absolutely no reason and went around like they were carrying the entire world on their shoulder. One day, I heard myself saying “I expect you to show me some respect because I am your mother. I expect you to be grateful for all the things you have and we’ve done for you.” I was angry and hurt.

I had told myself I wouldn’t expect because that’s when one gets hurt. I had been the practical mom all my life, never too sentimental or emotional, not too possessive or intrusive. In short, I  had not been a helicopter mom.  Yet I had gotten hurt.  “Was it wrong to expect love, respect, and gratitude?” “How had I fallen into the trap?” The intangibles that I had been expecting were putting more pressure on my children than the tangibles I had guarded myself from.

Respect, Gratitude, Manners

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3 things that are not wrong to expect from your kids. Why? Because there are no free lunches! Not in the real world. The current generation is so used to instant gratification that they have absolutely no time to feel grateful. They get what they want as soon as they want it, think it or expect it. They just haven’t had the opportunity to work for it, hope for it or dream about it. Parents these days give their children everything even before the need arises that the children believe it’s their birthright to get what they want. Whose fault is it? Certainly not theirs. As parents, we complain about this generation being selfish, rude and disrespectful in comparison to our generation.

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In our aim to be more friendly and understanding as parents, to talk things out, we forget to draw lines. As we decide not to be pushy, we forget that these “techie kids” are still just kids and with all their knowledge, they have no experience of the world. So rules, expectations, goals need to be laid down as guides and boundaries so that we have educated, cultured humans capable of living in a civilized society.

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Back off a bit

Last week, my daughter came back early from school while I was at work. She hadn’t called me to inform me that she was leaving school. When I got to know I reacted, saying “It’s unsafe outside. How come you did not call me? What if anything had happened to you on the way? You can’t be getting out of school this way. When I was your age…” and I stopped.

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As I prepared dinner that day, I thought “When I was her age, there were no mobile phones, I too skipped classes in grade 11, if I felt the lectures were a waste of time and returned home. During those days I walked 2 kms to the main bus-stop (since the college bus left only at the end of the day), then took a half an hour journey in a crowded bus, got off and walked another 2 kms home”. My mother who was a stay-at-home mom at the time had no way of knowing where I was until I got home  because there were no mobile phones. All she,  (like all other moms of the time), could do, was hope and pray that I was safe. My daughter’s school is barely a km away from home! Yet I had freaked out because like all current day parents, we’ve become control freaks though we don’t accept it. We do it in the name of ‘lurking’ dangers these days which we think are much more than in our days. The truth is dangers existed even then. The nature of the dangers have changed but the fact is, so have the children these days. They are certainly more aware, much more smarter these days, than we ever were.

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Maybe, it would help if as parents, we lay down the basic rules that shouldn’t be broken, the basic goals that should be achieved and then give them space. This would make them both responsible, independant and yet ensure they remained within the set boundaries.

Thanks to the internet, where socializing has taken a back-seat and entertainment is clowning around on snap-chat or mall shopping, the current generation is under a state of stress. They don’t go out to play like we did, they don’t meet real people as much as we did, they hear of terrorists, deaths, attacks as a regular part of dinner time conversations and they see their parents stressed all the time. Family time is spent talking about what they need to do and what they shouldn’t be doing- “Advise”, “Advise”, “More advise”. Gen X Parents, guess we need to Back off a bit.

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Trust them. Trust the values you instilled

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 Give them a chance to fall and get back on their feet. I’m no parenting expert and I have 2 Gen Z kids. And I can’t say what will happen in the future or how they will turn out to be. I have seen the ‘popular’ kids, the kids who excel at everything and kids who are still finding their way. The one thing in common was that all Gen X parents were complaining on how rude kids are, these days and how they do not listen and how expensive life has become.

Maybe it’s time we look at our own parenting styles. There is no “one size fits all” strategy. However, a common strategy would be to trust them, let go a bit and trust your own values and trust that your kids have learnt by watching you…

Well, since this thought came into my mind last week and I kind of realized, that I probably needed to back off a bit I decided to write this post. I am not saying that this is going to be the solution to all the battles I currently face with the teens. But, this week has been good so far. I am not forecasting next week :).

I am not sure if this post resonates with other parents but if it does, do share your comments.

To all those who are either experts on parenting or who have crossed the stage of  raising teenage children, do share your tips. It will definitely help me and others on the same boat.

 

24 Comments »

  1. Mam, this is one of the beautiful articles that i read on wordpress. Respect is indeed one of the important aspect of life, so that basic expectation should be fine is my view. Kids grow up and imbibe the culture of the environment and the environment has changed a lot. If disturbed they will be the odd one out giving birth to friction. I think everyone realizes once maturity kicks in, until then we may have to face the gen as per their norms.

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  2. Firstly, you cannot implement your bringing up practices with this generation. They are different in so many ways than we were at their age. I too, like you, have rules in place that simply must be followed. I know the challenges come during the teen years when every shred of patience and all that you have ever hoped for, goes out of the window. I have a long time for that one, but I suppose no parent can ever be fully prepared for that one.
    A detailed read, Smitha. Being a parent myself, I found it very practical.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right when you say ” patience goes out of the window”. At this stage I sometimes feel everything I ever taught has gone out of the window. And then again, they come back to normalcy and give me hope. Thanks again Pranitha for supporting my views. Am grateful.

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  3. I don’t have children but I can see how children’s lives today are so much more different. I fall into Gen X and like you, I walked to school with no mobile phone – we didn’t even have a phone in the house. We had much more freedom to play independently without our parents worrying where we were all the time. I do think there are more pressures on children these days, and I also think it must be difficult to understand the mindset of those growing up in such a different world – but then I always thought my parents were of such a different generation to me that they found me hard to understand.

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    • Andrea your last line ” your parents were from such a different generation that they found it hard to understand you”, was the most helpful eyeopener. Maybe with years of trying to get it right as a mom, I had forgotten I had also undergone these battles. But your comment has made me think. In fact as I write this comment I remember that you’re so right. It wasn’t hunky- dory then. My battles were different but they existed silently within. The difference these days is that children speak it out while we fumed within with occasional outbursts. My mom would always tell me ” you’ll understand when you grow older and hopefully your children are like you”☺. I guess that line says it all. Thanks Andrea for helping me remember.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. As much truth as this blog post holds I believe a great deal of very important factors were left out. Instant gratification – not entirely true. Those within the age bracket of the mid 20s and below did grow up in an age of the tech boom. This meant we were provided with a great number of tools which have in many ways decreased social gatherings in favour of emojis and apps, etc. etc. nonsense. But those of the older group within the 20s have also experienced the horror of a world where we’re constantly met with disappointment, lack of opportunities, and an incredible amount of uncertainty. This is down to the world being a place where the costs of living are far too high, people are working in places they don’t want to be in, and are doing so for longer hours in order to try and survive. The old ways of go college, graduate university, find a job and work your way up don’t work. Not like the 90s and before. And because of this, the so-called instant gratifications and emoji world of apps and online-socialising do provide comfort, as well as being time convenient due to being overworked on a day to day basis. This is what online dating was founded on. No doubt this will continue as Gen-X becomes older and the generation which follows. I think Gen-X and to an extent the later half of Gen-Y are criticized way too much. Thing is, these will be the generations leading the new world once the old dictators in suits hit the grave.

    The idea that the current generation isn’t grateful, perceived as selfish and rude, this is a parent by parent basis – not a general perception of an entire generation. For instance, regardless of a current generation growing up in the same techie world, different cultures and nationalities will always raise their kids differently despite living in the same environment. And let’s face it, those with privilege have and will always raise their kids with a softer hand, as opposed to those who have always had to work harder in order to reach or even approach the same level of respect, income, and lifestyle. Their parenting will always reflect this onto their children despite the surrounding world of smartphones, Like, Tweet this and so on.

    I think this blog post, it’s well worth the read. Important topics are addressed, most of it I agree with, some I don’t. As a Gen-Y born at the beginning of the 90s, I encompass a great deal of traits from the generations prior, all the while being able to communicate and understand those of Gen-X, this is because my generation and the one before are responsible for it. But as i said previously, individual parenting and upbringing will tear apart both that chart and the perception of how Gen-X behaves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and most importantly writing such a detailed comment. You are right when it comes to those privileged parents who raise their kids with a softer hand or those living in a safe, comfortable environment. I have mentioned what you have said in my post that Gen Z kids are probably more stressed as their parents are stressed and because of the lack of socializing and simple fun which we Gen X parents enjoyed in our days. My post was meant to tell all parents who think gen z children are selfish, not to do so but to understand the environment in which these younsters grow. They somehow do not have a distinctive childhood like gen x enjoyed. These children have seen it all- deaths, terrorism and wars. Again like you said individual parenting will tear the chart which is what I’ve said ” it finally boils down to family values and rules and boundaries laid”. Thank you again for your comment. It’s very insightful. Appreciate it totally.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you so much. I’m happy we are on the same page now. Do share it further if you think it should be read by more people. And again thank you for sharing your views. It was good to understand the point of view of someone from Gen Y too.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Smitha, I felt you echoed my thoughts as I too have two teenagers, no the elder one has crossed teenage actually. I find so much of commonality in our thought process of raising kids.
    I don’t think we can term them as rude. The environment in which we grew up compared to them is very different. So guess their values and attitude is bound to be different from us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Radhika for sharing your experience. It makes me feel so much better, knowing that I’m on the right track and that my understanding of this generation isn’t wrong. You’ve explained it so well. The environment is different and so must our rules be, as long as the basic foundation of respect and values remain.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post Smitha. I can completely relate to it but I don’t agree the part of not expecting anything from kids. If we do not have any expectations from them, how will we make them responsible humans. When we exercise control and discipline, it’s for their own benefit. They are too immature to handle freedom. Don’t you expect them to be courteous and caring….how will we teach them these qualities if we do not expect them to practice these. While I agree that we didn’t have modern facilities in our times but that saved us from their misuse too.. Sorry, my intention was not to prove you wrong but a healthy discussion 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Vandana for reading it and sharing your comments. It’s great to have a healthy discussion because then you know the person has actually read the post :). I totally agree that one must have expectations and that is what I have mentioned in the post. Expectations that children should respect, love, show gratitude and grow up into good humans but not expectations that they achieve every goal that you as a parent did not achieve. Many parents do that and that creates a lot of stress on children. Also, expectations when you grow old that the children stick around with you. That’s not possible and we must be ready to let go. I was talking about those kinds of expectations. In fact, that’s what I’ve said “they are kids and they need ground rules” but we need to give them freedom as they become older teens. I hope I’ve clarified it. Also, like you said it’s required to make them respectable humans, I’ve said the same “there are no free lunches and the sooner the realize the better”. And please don’t say sorry. I’m glad you wrote how you felt. Do read it again and let me know if it now resonates with you or still not 🙂

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        • I am glad you did Vandana. It felt nice that you shared how you felt rather than reading it, feeling differently and not discussing it. We are saying exactly the same thing because we belong to the same gen and our kids belong to the same gen. So the issues faced are the same. I’m glad you wrote back. Have a gr8 weekend!

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  7. I definitely hear you, Smitha. I have two generation Z kids as well and one is a teenager and one a pre-teen and the perceived rudeness is a problem. I feel we have been two permissive as parents and not drawn strong enough lines. I am having to rectify this now as I will not tolerate rudeness to me in my own home. My kids are well behavior by other kids of their same ages standards, so I hate to think how some homes are.

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