For many Millennials and Xennials, we feel the need to questions everything our parents did in raising us. Our culture is one of entrepreneurship, disruption and re-invention. This seeps into parenting as well.
Many things need to stay the same, and some things need to change with the times.
Children growing up in the 80s and 90s were surrounded by a changing world with the introduction to one of the world’s most shattering technologies, the internet.
The good parents who foresaw the changes that would change our generation, did their best to protect us from MTV, drugs that the DARE program warned us about and the potential evils of big cities.
Our parents saw we needed security and that is what they dedicated their lives to. The suburban dream was born with big yards and minivans. Our parents worked for the same company for years in order to provide us with what we needed the most, security.
Each generation has our specific parenting challenges and ways we need to parent our kids.
Now, as we millennials and xennials are parents ourselves, we see a whole different set of needs for our kids. Security is still a need, but the way we pursue it has to be slightly different. Given the nomadic nature of careers, security based on location isn’t much worth pursuing.
Security is an illusion. It is more important to teach our children self worth and how to thrive in a tumultuous world.
This hit me when my grandmother was watching me feed my 2 year old son. I gave him a choice between carrots and green beans. She was shocked that I would ask a 2 year old this question. My grandmother made the comment – “In my time, the kids just ate whatever we put on their plate. No choices and no questions asked.”
What she said stuck with me for months. The “do as I say, or else” worked great in that generation where you had limited choices in life- you picked a career that seemed stable and stuck with your job as long as you could. The radius of decision making was severely limited. You needed to follow the rules in order to succeed.
Our world is no longer one of limited choices. In fact, we have unlimited choices, and that can be incredibly immobilizing.
Teaching simple decision making tactics are crucial to helping this generation thrive in the midst of a world with too many choices. Our kids can travel the world, live in pretty much any location they want and interact with almost anyone they desire given the ability to connect online. Their jobs could take them to Medellin, Salt Like City or Chiang Mai. They could live in a city, a cottage or a farm. Their dietary choices could give them access to any type or quality of food on planet earth. Their future decisions could take them anywhere.
Stability means something else in this generation. Stability means that a person has the “know how” to choose their limits in a world with unlimited possibilities. Their stability may not be in a home, in a job or even hobbies. The closeness of a few key relationships, the ability to field the bumps of life and a rooted identity are what brings a person security in a global world.
So maybe my grandma was right about the beans and carrots “one choice” approach of her generation, but we need new tactics to teach decision making skills if our kids are going to be able to navigate our new global world.