Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Generation Edge
Generation Edge kids are not your typical teens.
Posted Mar 06, 2018
It’s been suggested that your Generation Z, or Gen Edge, sons and daughters might be more like your own grandparents than you or your own parents were. There’s a rhythm to the socio-cultural identity of each new generation and the cycle has churned far enough that you are likely raising kids who would have fit into the mold that your own grandparents cast. Not such a bad thing, at all, when you consider the turmoil that your parents and the Millennial generations created. And if you’re the parent of both an older Millennial and a younger Gen Edger, you probably already recognize the differences inherent between these two groups – and likely attributed it to your own developing parenting abilities. However, there might be more afoot than “new and improved parenting skills.”
Failure: The Difference between a Gen Edger and Older Siblings
Gen Edgers can fail and their world won’t come to an end. They have the ability to figure out how to get back in the game and they WANT to do it on their own. Being too dependent on parents can lead to some serious issues with self-reliance and psychological well-being. While it might feel good for kids to know that their parents are ready to come to bat for them when the world treats them poorly, not learning the skills to deal with their own fiascoes or screw-ups can result in some pretty hefty consequences when that child comes of age and has to stand up for herself in the adult world.
Parents: Gen Edgers don’t hate on them quite So Much and Parents Should Support them differently
While Gen Edgers are more willing to spend time with their parents and hang out with the family unit, they are no more tolerant of a parent’s “Back when I was your age” stories of life lessons and wisdom than you were yourself at their age. Seriously. Your kids just don’t care. At all. One of the hardest lessons that many graduate students training to become therapists must learn is that no client wants to hear the “when I faced a similar issue” story from a counselor. Honestly, the only person who can ever really learn from your past experiences and mistakes is you. It’s just that simple.
Empathize with your child as he struggles or even bombs out, but use your “knowing how he feels” standpoint to simply inform your response and your message of support. Don’t make a child’s stumble about your own history with similar struggles . . . let it be about him and his own experiences.
All kids, regardless of age, are going to flounder or even fail miserably at some task that seems all-important at the time. These are life lessons and if we don’t get the lesson, we can’t learn what we need to know to face the next failure.
Don’t Rescue Them: Gen Edgers are Willing to Learn from their Mistakes
Once there was an adage that parents used to encourage their kids when their kids failed. It went something along the lines of “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Does that sound familiar? It should for all of those in the Silent Generation or the Boomer Generation. Somehow it was forgotten for the Millennials’ Coming of Age period. The people doing the “trying” about this group’s failures were their parents a lot of the time. Today, though, the Gen Edge kids are all about working hard to get things right. They are willing to persist when their earliest efforts are not successful. They seem to have a lot of common sense about the important things in life – they don’t take a lot of unnecessary risks that may negatively affect their physical well-being, but they are certainly willing to keep moving forward full-throttle towards their goals when they believe in the value of an experience or reward.
While Millennials received a lot of support and “helicoptering” while young, they paid a price when early efforts at independence were financially unsustainable and they found themselves moving back home under their parents’ roofs again.
Home is Where the Gen Edger Might be Found – Until Moving-Out is Fiscally Advisable
Gen Edgers are less likely to leave home before they are ready. Whether it’s because they witnessed the boomerang behavior of their older sibs or they just don’t see the need to invest their hard earned cash into what could be seen as a duplication of the room and board they can get cheaper in the family home. Gen Edgers are pennywise and solvency is more important to them than living in a state of cash-strapped independence. Gen Edgers spend a lot of time connecting to their social webs – they don’t just “think globally, act locally;” they likely consider “global connections” as part of their own personal local landscape.
Gen Edgers seem to be totally tuned into honoring the ethics of social connection, global awareness, and supporting those who are struggling to support themselves, defending those who are unjustly treated, and simply “doing the right thing,” as well as they possibly can. The world of the Gen Edger is as big around as Planet Earth and it stretches as far as the galaxies expand. They may not be able to hang out side-by-side with their best friend who lives halfway around the globe, but their friendship and emotional bond can be every bit as deep and authentic as the ones they have with their face-to-face buds.
Virtual Interpersonal Skills might not translate into Reality, Unfortunately
Unfortunately, many Gen Edgers have less than stellar interpersonal skills for real-world interactions. They are less familiar with the daily exchanges and engagement that are necessary in the workplace, so they may find themselves in need of a little coaching or self-guided education. It’s assumed that these young adults won’t mind learning the skills because they also recognize that having shortcomings is pretty normal. They also believe that they have the power to master the challenges that might keep them from optimal development. They don’t judge others who are different from themselves based on differences and they can embrace those whose talents and gifts vary significantly from their own. They might long for a world that is just and fair and where equity is the norm, but they also recognize that the human race is not yet there and they are cautious in assuming that difference does not matter in the workplace.
The Silent Generation spent a lifetime laying the foundation for the lightning fast technological leaps that the last ten years have allowed. From space travel to communication technology, the great grandparents of today’s Gen Z kids were busy engineering a world in which “anything” would be possible. The Gen Edgers are taking that magical touch and pushing towards and breaking through limits and barriers as they move forward the edges of what is technologically doable today. The techno “haves” and “have nots,” however, may find themselves on very different career paths due to early experience with multiple levels of technology.
Parenting a Gen Edger versus a Millennial is about as different as owning a cat versus owning a dog. And each will be rewarding in uniquely different ways.
Raising a Millennial child for many parents was somewhat akin to owning a kitten and watching it grow into a full-grown cat. Kittens and baby Millennials are easy to adore and get a lot of views on YouTube and other media platforms! Everything they do is cute and photo-worthy. You make sure that they are well fed; they get taken into the medico’s office for well-checks, immunizations, and whatever is advised in order to keep them healthy and growing. If they get into a scrap with someone else, you take your child’s side and find a way to protect them from disaster happening again.
Then when the Millennial or the kitten hits adulthood, they aren’t quite as “cute” as they once were and they don’t appreciate the attention that they once craved from you. Their independence makes you feel a little lost when you don’t get the chance to hover or fawn over them like you once did. They might even resent your efforts at caring for them and only show up when they need something – whether it’s a little cash or fresh water, they know you’ll take care of them because it’s what you’ve always done. You still love them and care for them, but now the relationship doesn’t seem quite as reciprocal as it once did. There’s a saying that humans are owned by their feline pets and while parents are not actually “owned” by their Millennial gen kids, the children of the Millennial Generation certainly commanded a great deal of power in a large number of households. Many were raised to assume that they were the center of the family and that their desires would be treated as needs and met as well as a family could do.
However, when you have a Gen Edger in the house, it might seem a little bit more like having a dog. Puppies and Gen Edgers are equally as adorable as baby Millennials or kittens, but they don’t always outgrow their need for connection to their “humans” the same way Millennials do. Dogs don’t forget that they owe their humans a debt of gratitude for every morsel of food or walk around the block and they greet their owners with gratitude every time their owners show back up at the end of the day. Dogs understand the value of social networking and respect and protect their family units. Gen Z kids seem to have a similar sense of loyalty to their families and don’t mind hanging out with their parents, on occasion, unlike their older siblings. Millennials seemed to need to reject their parents and strive for a sense of pseudo-independence while Gen Edgers seem to be okay with being a part of a nuclear family – and they don’t feel the need to waste energy, time, or psychological capital on distancing themselves from a system that has gotten them to where they are in life. Dogs aren’t ashamed to show their appreciation for their families and neither are Gen Edgers.
The beauty of the generational pendulum, however, is that while it can swing wildly between generations, there’s a center point around which it will always come to rest. We can’t fight history and we can’t choose our ancestors, but we can certainly stretch ourselves to appreciate the quirks and idiosyncrasies of our children that are shaped by history and individuality.
Bridgeworks. (2018). 3G: Connecting with Three Young Segments in the Workplace. Available at http://www.generations.com/gen-edge-report/