I was invited to a “breakfast club”, held monthly at a swanky country club, complete with a full-on buffet and a guest speaker. It was on a Friday morning at 7:30am. I was like, damn, that’s early (considering the hour drive)…and I wear jeans on Friday…can I wear jeans to this thing? I figured I shouldn’t though, so I didn’t. Good call. I also had my smoothie on the drive over so I didn’t plan to eat (much) but the spread was crazy so I loaded up my plate with lots of eggs cooked multiple ways, including eggs Benedict, and multiple strips of bacon. Mmm, mmm good.
The speaker, Cam Marston, was AWESOME. He is a “Multi-Generational Relations and Workplace Communication Expert”. Dang.
I am fascinated by generational research and all the terms like “Baby Boomer”, “Gen X”, “Millennial”, “Helicopter Parent”, etc. I’m a Gen Xer and I’m thinking a lot of you are too, with some of you falling into the Baby Boomer or Millennial categories. And with each, there is some overlap, depending on your age.
Here are a few (very generalized) nuggets from the session that I can definitely relate to. Maybe you can, too.
At work, Gen Xers want to do their job and be left alone dammit. They don’t want you to ask them about their weekend and they don’t want to know about yours. And good God, don’t pull up your baby pics. Also, don’t bombard them with meetings. They ain’t got time for that BS.
Millennials are super social and do everything in herds. They are all “kumbaya” and shit. They even go to prom together, not with dates, just in big “friend groups”. And holy shit, don’t get me started on “prom-posals”. WTF?! Apparently, these happy campers are also more mature…but less independent. Cam noted that they’re making decisions at age 30 that us Gen Xers made at 23.
Gen Xers are “drone parents”. We watch our kids with secret technology and we don’t tell them we are watching. We’re sneaky bastards. We’ve been programmed to be scared shitless about EVERYTHING. Our poor kids don’t know we’re there stalking them…until we strike. And then they are like “WTF?!” I typically say “Wait ‘til you’re a parent and you’ll understand.” Or will they?
Millennials will continue to have even MORE ways to spy on and track their kids, partly due to technological advances and partly due to the fact that they think the world is more dangerous these days. It’s not though. Statistically, it’s not. Things are so much more publicized now though.
Shit, I can think of at least 5 instances where I could have been kidnapped/raped/killed. I’ve been followed in malls and parking lots and I was even followed by the infamous “white van” one time.
I had no cell phone. And I sure as shit didn’t have common sense. Looking back, I feel lucky to be alive. I was told my brother was almost kidnapped, too. The ole “Want to go for a ride? I have candy” trick.
None of that shit ever made the news and we may or may not have told our parents.
On a lighter unrelated note, ever wonder why all alien abductions occur out on farms in the rural mid-west? Well, it’s because those people are wholesome, raised to work hard, and not turn their brains and bodies to mush. Aliens respect that. They like them better. This is what Cam Marston told me. His delivery was better. And I think that after they’re done with them, they sprinkle them back into cities for further research and observation. Part of their plan to take us over.
I’m seriously scared shitless for my kids and their kids – my future adoring grand babies, one of whom will be a boy ‘cuz Boy Scout will need a grandson/buddy/future Boy Scout.
With the heightened levels of stress, anxiety, depression, suicide rates, etc., will it get worse or better for our kids and their’s? What kinds of parents will my kids be? History repeats itself, right? Generational research supports that. Will they be like my parents? Will they be like my grandparents?
The G.I. Generation (my grandparents) lived through war and the depression, worked hard, and stayed together. They didn’t have time for bull shit.
Baby Boomers (my parents) wanted love and peace, burned their bras and wore tube tops, got married way too young, had babies way too young, and got divorced.
Gen Xers (my friends and me) were “latch key” kids. Our divorced parents were young and single, trying to raise and afford us, while working full-time and trying to find a new life, which meant going out and partying it up. We were unsupervised, and we loved it. (Damn, high school was fun.)
We had the house to ourselves and we could lay around after school watching Tom and Jerry, eating ice cream, Doritos, and bologna sandwiches (ah, memories). Hell, I would get so cozy (lazy) that I wouldn’t even get up to blow my nose. I’d just sit there, eyes glazed over, picking my nose and wiping boogers under our ugly ass green couch. Gross, I know. So gross. Yes, I am totally disgusting. I know I wasn’t the only one who did that shit though…come on now. It’s nice that I passed that trait down to one of my kids, too. Instead of the couch though, she preferred to leave hers in her bed. I had the joy of finding them.
After lazing around, we’d “dial” our friends up on our rotary or push-button phone and make a plan, and then hop on our Schwinn (with no helmet, no sunscreen, no hand sanitizer, no cell phone, no money) and ride for what seemed like 20 miles to our meeting spot. We were young and free. Those were “the salad days” (Raising Arizona reference).
What’s interesting though, is that later, we (Gen X) got all serious, went to college, maybe on to grad school, got jobs, etc. In fact, we had jobs as soon as we had our “workers” permit. Shit, we had to if we wanted money. I mean, I had shopping and McDonald’s habits to support. I started babysitting at like 10 and then started in retail at 15. Sometimes I had more than one job, like when I worked at Herman’s Sporting Goods and Spa Lady. So sporty!
I’ve been working ever since, except for the 5 years I was a “stay at home mom”. What a term that is. “What do you do?” I “stay at home.” Nope. Not true. No one with kids “stays at home”. We run around like sleep deprived, under showered, psychos and drag our kids’ asses all over the damn place to keep them entertained, educated, and fulfilled. We have snacks and water bottles tucked in to every crevice of our mini vans and our “Thirty-One” totes, for fear that they will starve or get dehydrated. And God forbid they have ANY kind of food “sensitivity”. Did that even exist when we were little? Was it a thing? We’d also have a damn trunk full of extra clothes at the ready…in case THEY GOT DIRTY, not to mention 5,000 tiny bottles of hand sanitizer in different scents. Can you even imagine if our kids had to use a friggin PAY PHONE? The horror.
OMG, as I am editing this blog right now, my kid, who is laying on the couch with her coffee and MY Corgi, holds up her phone and says “Mama, I know what I want for graduation…a ‘Car-tee-air’ ring.” I shit you not. (For the dudes, that’s a très expensive brand). My response: “Well, first of all, if you cannot pronounce it correctly, then no. And secondly, no.” I can’t blame her, she’s mini-me. She might be the bed booger culprit.
We all try to give our kids what we perceive we didn’t have, right? It’s natural. As a helicopter or drone parent, I will admit to “hovering”, overprotecting, signing my kids up for every sport/dance class/music lesson when they were 3 and wiping their asses ‘til they were like 12. I’m still not confident they are doing it correctly. And yep, they got “devices” way too young and they watched too much TV (when TV was still cool). Although I respect those who “limit screen time”, eff that shit. Mama needed some mama time. TV was our friend and those freaky “Wiggles” were my saviors.
My kids were never allowed to go anywhere alone. Shit, I still watch them when they go to the mailbox and they are 18. In my defense, I was almost snatched in my own driveway as a kid. Where the eff did I grow up, right?! Maybe it was the aliens!
And college for our kids? You bet yer sweet ass. They MUST go. They WILL go. There is NO question. Heck, one of my besties says hers are going to get their MBAs and they haven’t finished elementary school yet. (Good luck with that.) And, we don’t just encourage them to go, we research all their options, tell them where we think they should go, and then we take their asses to every school we can think of for a “tour” so they can get the “experience” and “see themselves there” (or not).
One of mine never saw herself at any college, or at any high school for that matter. Then she graduated early (still scratching my head about that). That’s been fun. And it changed my tune in a BIG way about continuing education. “University” is just NOT for everyone and neither is the corporate world. My kid will never “work for the man” (or have benefits). Hell, sometimes I regret getting my MBA, or at least getting it right after college when I had no earthly idea what I wanted to do. I was a good student though, so I figured, I’ll just keep going, get my ass in debt, and figure that shit out later. Still working on that.
Think my parents took off work to take me on college tours? Who’s laughing with me? They weren’t encouraged to go to college and they didn’t think to encourage us. They were so young, and in a way, we grew up together. They were thrilled we wanted to “go” and “do” and “see” but they didn’t know how to help us figure it all out. WE DID THAT. All BY OUR DAMN SELVES. In hindsight, we should thank them for that. They allowed us to figure shit out and taught us self-discipline and self-motivation. And boy were they proud of us. However it worked out, they gave us what they didn’t perceive they had growing up…a future.
My kids don’t figure SHIT out by themselves. You know why? Because I don’t let them. They are not capable. That’s what we think anyway. In some ways it’s true, but they need to be able to figure things out for themselves and learn from their mistakes. They also need to know that it’s ok to fail. I’m working on that finally, after 18 years.
Millennials are told that a lot – “It’s ok to fail.” Huh. That’s cool. Whew, that takes a load off ‘cuz I’ve failed a LOT. Very humbling.
I’m a good mom though, and I owe that to my mom (Diann). My kids understand fierce and unconditional love and they feel safe and secure. Diann instilled that in me. They also know I don’t put up with bull shit (pretty sure Bob gave me that – in conjunction with painfully low patience). But I will also defend them and teach them not to put up with bull shit. Cam Marston talked a bit about this and told the audience to “Watch out for Gen X moms”. They don’t have time for bull shit.
According to Cam, Gen X women are super strong and have the greatest influence, such as on purchasing decisions. If they love something, they will shout it from the rooftops and they’ll be having their mom, mother-in-law, and friends buying that shit even if they don’t need it. Don’t scorn her though or she’ll eat you alive (according to Cam). Goodness.
He went on to say that Gen X women are more dominant in their marriages (hee hee). “Men are just decoys”, he said (himself included). Men are pretty much along for the ride and they rely heavily on the opinions and approval of their ladies. For example – A contractor shows up to give a quote. He speaks to both the man and woman. He leaves and the first thing the man does is ask the woman “What did you think?” If the woman answers “You know…I really liked him”, the man nods and says “Yeah, me too, good.” If she hadn’t liked him though, they’d be getting another quote. A lot different from our parents, eh?
Cam also said to look out for Millennial women. They save more, they are more educated, and they have even more influence. Sorry dudes. You love them though…and hell, it takes some of the pressure of you, right?
I could go on but don’t worry, I’m out of content, but I would like to share some additional nuggets and links with you that I have found interesting, related to generational shifts, and some about mental illness, which is a topic I read a lot about –
“’Parent’ as a verb gained widespread use in the 1970s, which is also when parenting books exploded. The 1980s brought helicopter parenting, a movement to keep children safe from physical harm, spurred by high-profile child assaults and abductions (despite the fact that they were, and are, exceedingly rare).” “Over just a couple of generations, parents have greatly increased the amount of time, attention and money they put into raising children. Mothers who juggle jobs outside the home spend just as much time tending their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.” Read more
“Children are almost like prisoners today…They’re constantly being monitored, their sense of control over their lives has declined, and that sets them up for depression and anxiety. Instead of just going out to play, they are frequently put in competitive, anxiety-provoking conditions, such as trying to earn a spot on a team or win a game.” Read more
“…interestingly, the adults over age 25 showed absolutely no change in depression or suicidal thoughts during the past 12 years. In fact, researchers saw a slight decline in psychological distress when they looked at people over the age of 65. “These trends [of increased depression and suicidal thoughts] are weak or nonexistent among adults 26 years and over, suggesting a generational shift in mood disorders instead of an overall increase across all ages,” Dr. Twenge said in a news release. Read more
That last one hits me hard, as a mom of a child who suffers with mental illness (for good or bad I wrote about that in my last blog.) What are we doing to our kids? My parents (and their generation) weren’t perfect, but I thank them for lowering my chances of developing depression. And I’m so proud of them for working so hard – for us and for them – so they could enjoy their retirement, and lower their stress a bit.
My dad enjoyed his retirement as long as his body held out and my mom is in la la land at the beach, posting daily to her Dog page, and partying with her neighborhood posse and with my mother-in-law, who wasn’t so lucky in avoiding the the curse of depression, but who has helped us better understand and navigate the treacherous waters of mental illness. Both of our Baby Boomer mothers have earned their stripes as moms and grandmothers. In fact, it was my mom, not me, who my kid confided in and reached out to about her mental illness. Damn.
And lastly, although I admit I haven’t listened to one, here’s a link to Cam Marston’s podcasts: https://generationalinsights.com/podcasts/. I’m thinking they will be really good.
OH, AND I ALMOST FORGOT! After I saw Cam Marston speak that morning and after talking a lot with my friend who invited me, I got to work, went to the bathroom, and noticed I had a booger hanging out of my nose.
I distinctly remember it – my right nostril, at the tip of my insanely long nose. I mean, it could have been a piece of skin, and that’s what I tried to tell myself, as I stared in horror at the mirror, but no, I’m pretty sure it was a boog. Huh. That’s nice. Another humbling experience, but hey, at least I didn’t wear jeans. Eff it.
Hey, cheers to you, to navigating adulthood and parenthood, and to handling “your shit” and your boogers.