Gen Z is in a Conundrum

Have you heard the hype? Word on the street is Generation Z will grow up and rock the world! Technical genius, intelligence, creativity, the entrepreneurial spirit, and cool pragmatism all point to Gen Z being poised for success. Employers, marketers, and companies around the world are ready and waiting for Gen Z to start changing the world.

Generation Z is in a Conundrum.  While they have what it takes to succeed technically and academically, they need to develop their independence and capability to navigate life:  their development is at risk. Many parents have created a serious problem for this generation, a problem that is stifling American Gen Zs’ development. The problem is that while Gen Zs are ready to take off, parents of Gen Zs don’t back off and let them fly. Over-controlling parents of Gen Zs, mostly Gen Xers, are producing and directing their Gen Zs every chance they get, creating a generation incapable of independence. 

According to Happen’s report, Generation Z: The new kids on the block have arrived, Gen Zs are being suffocated by their micro-managing and over-controlling Gen X parents.

According to Neil Montgomery, a psychologist at Keene State College in New Hampshire, commented to NBC on the results of a recent study of students with helicopter parents: “We have a person who is dependent, who is vulnerable, who is self-conscious, who is anxious, who is impulsive, not open to new actions or ideas; is that going to make a student?”

How will Gen Z THRIVE tomorrow, if they don’t know how to SURVIVE today? How will this generation “rock the world” if they’re paralyzed by self-doubt and unsure how to lead? How can they advance our industries if they can’t find a job, ace an interview, or write an impeccable business plan?  It’s up to us – the Gen X educators, employers, marketers, parents – to step back and give our Gen Zs a chance (unchained!), to learn the skills necessary to succeed. It’s up to us to let them fly.

Why? Because Gen Zs need space to flourish in order to lead and prosper. Gen Z has the potential to drive innovation, solve problems, and meet new and desperate needs, and our economies, organizations, and countries need them to live up to that potential. So, Gen Xer’s, back off and let them grow!

Here are some tips on how to let your Gen Zs become more independent:

1) Produce, don’t Direct. Stop enabling your kids to be DEPENDENT on you, or you’ll wake up one day wondering how you raised a Millennial! Act more like their employer, less like their nanny.

2) Cut the iCord. Smart phones should be used for quick chats about where, when, who, and what. Texting with your Gen Zs while they are out socializing, or while YOU are out socializing is an embarrassment to you both (unless it’s an emergency).

3) Test Independence. Give your Gen Zs resources to find situations that will allow independence and teach them to be self-reliant. The options are endless. They can travel and volunteer in third world countries for personal development, create other volunteer leadership positions, find paying jobs within biking distance, or even attend a Montessori School.  Point them in the right direction, and let them find their way. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They fail, and they learn from it.

4) Look East, Look West. While we’re holding the hands of our Gen Zs in America, other countries are giving them the independence they need to thrive. Compared to global parenting styles, the American style makes Gen Zs life look like prison. Helicopter parenting might be okay for safety, but it is NOT okay for global success.

Society has placed high expectations on Gen Z, and indirectly put a lot of pressure on parents to help their Gen Zs reach maximum potential. But we need to stop overdoing it. The truth is, the unemployment rate among 16-24 year olds is double that of the national unemployment rate, and Gen Zs are going to have tough competition for fewer spots in the working world. By butting in, we’re just making it harder for them. If we want to help our Gen Zs succeed, we need to let them learn how. Let’s support them by letting go, and letting them soar. 

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