Friday, August 14, 2020

Gen X Parenting: raising the neXt generation

From Dr. Spock’s Common Sense Book of Baby & Child Care in 1946 to Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in 2011, we have seen no shortage of philosophies on parenting in the past seventy-five years. Lately most of the attention has been on the Baby Boomer’s helicopter parenting of their Millennial children, who are now heading into prime child rearing years. But, of course, in the middle is Generation X, the latch key kids of the 70s, who’ve quietly gone about raising Gen Z. Through that lens, and looking back on my past eighteen years raising two children while educating countless others, I’ve crafted a parenting reflection entitled “Gen X Parenting, & raising Generation neXt,” which is posted on Medium. Here are the first couple paragraphs: 

"Would you let your ninth grader hang out at a house with no parents home? Would you let that same freshman male hang out alone at a house with two girls?" That challenging question was posed by a friend on social media. My answer: "Sure.” If Gen X’s approach to parenting were a formula, it would be: raise ‘em and trust ‘em. And even as my wife and I debate how much is our kids’ nature and how much is our environment, we know we’ve played a significant role in who they’ve become.

So in that hypothetical situation, I’d trust him. We trust our son and our daughter. We also speak candidly with them and always have. That's the mark of a Generation X parent. The Boomers created the idea of helicopter parenting, and it’s not an admirable development in the parenting game. It’s not surprising though; for the rebellious flower children didn’t want their kids doing what they had done, and with rising levels of affluence, they simply wanted to give their children everything, a sort of nod to indulging every pleasure, but with supervision. Granted, some in the Gen X demographic are influenced by similar child-rearing anxiety, even morphing into the disturbing snowplow parenting phenomenon. But for most of us who grew up kind of on our own as latch-key kids of the 70s and 80s, we have different ideas about raising children. It’s the sort of hands off approach to be expected of the last kids to ride without seatbelts and car seats.

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