These are my notes from Bill Roberts’ presentation on Parenting and Family Life at the “Family Matters” class on 27 October 2010 at First Presbyterian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS.

Tonight we’re going to talk about parenting and generational differences, based on several books and some Internet resources I found

Book: “The Trophy Kids Grow Up” by Ron Alsop discusses four generations in the workplace (page 5)
– Traditionalists: born 1925 – 1945
– Baby Boomers: 1946 – 1964
– Gen Xers: 1965 – 1979
– Millennials: 1981 – 2001

each group is defined by different key historical events and (generally) have different traits

Historical events:
– Traditionalists: Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, WWII, Korean War, Cold War era, Cuban missile crisis
– Baby Boomers: Vietnam War, assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK Jr, moon landing, Kent STate killings, Watergate
– Gen Xers: AIDS epidemic, Challenger disaster, Berlin Wall falls, OKC bombing, Clinton / Lewinsky scandal
– Millennials: Columbine shootings, 9-11, Enron scandal, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Katrina

General traits are different for generations too:
– Traditionalists: patriotic, dependable, conformist, respects authority, rigid, socially and financially conservative, solid work ethic
– Baby Boomers: workaholic, idealistic, competitive, loyal, materialistic, seeks personal fulfillment, values titles and the corner office
– Gen Xers: self-reliant, adaptable, cynical, distrusts authority, resourceful, entrepreneurial, tech saavy
– Millennials: entitled, optimistic, civic minded, close parental involvement, values work-life balance, impatient, multitasking, team oriented

This is not about “my generation is better than that generation”
– Millennial generation does seem (to me) lots software than prior generations
– they’ve had it easier, convenience, etc.

Things like family breakups toughen up individuals, but in general later generations have had things easier

Origins of Gen X: (WikiPedia)

The term Generation X was coined by the Magnum photographer Robert Capa in the early 1950s. He would use it later as a title for a photo-essay about young men and women growing up immediately after the Second World War. The project first appeared in “Picture Post” (UK) and “Holiday” (USA) in 1953. Describing his intention, Capa said ‘We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with’.[7] Author John Ulrich explains that, “Since then, “Generation X” has always signified a group of young people, seemingly without identity, who face an uncertain, ill-defined (and perhaps hostile) future. Subsequent appearances of the term in the mid-1960s and mid-1970s narrowed the referent for “Generation X” from Capa’s global generation to specific sets of primarily white, male, working class British youth sub-cultures, from the spiffy mods and their rivals the rockers, to the more overtly negationist punk subculture.”

List of Generations from WikiPedia

Some refer to Gen Y’s as the “Peter Pan generation” (those who have never grown up, from broken homes: Some say they “want to get it right” and may take more time to evaluate situation before jumping into certain life decisions
– reference: WikiPedia Gen Y

Defining success:
1000 teens said:
– only about 1/3 that making money is the most important thing in life / defining success

Bad news:
– at least 2 million teens had at least 1 alcoholic drink per week

Illegal drug use is declining overall, but twice the number in this generation use hallucinogens at least twice per month

Parents have always worried, in all generations

4 guidelines Roberts offers for balanced lives:
1- Moderation in most things (TV, video games, possessions and junk food)
2- Focus on high probability issues
3- Don’t interfere with normal development (let kids ride bikes, swim, climb on the monkey bars, etc. let teens go out with friends, get a driver’s license)
4- Know your child (if your child tends to be defiant or a bully, maybe violent video games are a bad idea)

Amber Alerts have made us much more aware of child kidnapping issues

There are also “Silver Alerts” now for seniors

Ideas from “Parenting the Millennial Generation” by Dave Verhaagen

Television has undergone a huge transition
– fathers are portrayed in many as idiots, instead of being portrayed with respect
– much less respect for authority showed in sit-coms

It’s not must important to be “fair,” it’s important to parent each child differently based on what they need
– trust your instincts with parenting

work on co-parenting well, conferring with each other

keep short accounts: let past failures and shortcomings go

Focus on the positive traits and aspects of each child

MY THOUGHT: AFTER VISITING CHINA SEVERAL TIMES NOW, I’VE REALIZED THAT THE GENERATIONAL DYNAMICS THERE ARE DIFFERENT FOR MULTIPLE REASONS, BUT AN IMPORTANT ONE IS THE ONE CHILD POLICY. THIS HAS MADE A BIG DIFFERENCE ON EXPECTATIONS AND PRESSURE PLACED ON INDIVIDUALS. I DON’T HAVE A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF THE PSYCHOLOGY AND CULTURAL PRESSURES AT PLAY IN THIS, BUT I DEFINITELY RECOGNIZE THE GENERATIONAL DYNAMICS IN CHINA ARE VERY DIFFERENT THAN THEY ARE HERE IN THE U.S.

Project Parent 365 - Day 1: The Hands
Creative Commons License photo credit: BuckDaddy

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