I recently came across a white paper by Magid Generational Studies, The First Generation of the Twenty-first Century: An introduction to The Pluralist Generation (born 1997 or later). The paper struck a chord with me more than any other document I’ve read or speaker I’ve listened to about the various generations and their characteristics. I think this is due to multiple factors, one being the fact that being a new business owner has forced me to start thinking about the future of my business and those that will be a part of it. Another factor this paper sparked interest and probably most especially, I’m the mother of two plurals!
I can actually see some of what is described in the article playing out before my very eyes in our home through mine, and my husband’s influence and partially the circumstances they face in their daily lives at school and with their friends.
The traits that struck me most are:
- Most diverse social circles
- Reflecting the Gen X parenting style in their mindset
- Affected by blended gender roles
My daughters are 7 and 10 years old and I see this ethnic diversity in their friends. Indian, European, Japanese, African-American and Mixed Race are all part of our birthday parties and Girl Scout troop for example. Growing up in a very small farming town in Illinois did not provide much diversity in my own childhood. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was exposed to other cultures and how much you can learn and appreciate from others that are different from you. Seeing the natural acceptance and eagerness to share the differences my daughters and their friends have is a joy to experience and be witness to.
While I agree that being honest is the most important trait one can have, I’m not surprised to see that Inner-Focused qualities are more important to Gen X parents. I do take pride in helping my girls learn to be independent and succeed on their own. They need to learn to fail individually in order to get better or be the best they can be and deal with the realities of life as an adult. By first learning to be independent they can be an even better contributor to a team.
I am most pleased to see blurred gender roles being emphasized. My daughters are exposed to this both in the home and professionally. I do not agree with the article in that as a Gen X wife, I can very confidently say my husband IS very involved and I do NOT view my family as a “chore”. In fact quite the opposite, they are the thing I’m most proud of in my life. My daughters see a team at play within our home, the lines are blurred and they will find my husband and I interchangeable as it comes to making dinner, taking out the trash, helping with baths, attending events and adjusting our work schedules to accommodate Dr. appointments. They see a mother that balances a professional career/business and a balanced home life through setting expectations and only making promises that can ALWAYS be kept.
My 7 year old is too young, but my 10 ½ year old is already talking about colleges as if it’s a given and wants a career that will help others. First it was dentistry and now through teaching. I see the impact she feels she can make through her campaign to raise money through a self-initiated bake sale/lemonade stand to clean up the neighborhood playground from a vandal who carved foul words into the slide. She and her friends have been collecting donations to the local humane society in lieu of presents for their birthdays this past year. That would have been unheard of when I was a child!
I don’t feel that they have had a chance to feel any full impact of discrimination at this young age or at least I’m not aware of it. I only hope that my husband and I have instilled enough confidence in them both to push forward beyond it as I agree they will face it at some point in their lives.
What type of leaders and contributors will these little people grow up to be? What trends and traits are you starting to see in your own homes and lives?