This interesting article in MSN by Susan Gregory Thomas describes parent’s attitudes today. The article makes some great points about the nature of Generation X’ers of parents, but I think it misses the marks in regards to their children.
A couple particularly good quotes:
“Generation X parents seem to have mistaken emotional ‘enmeshment’ for ‘attachment parenting,’”
“Our parents, the Boomers, didn’t pay so much attention to us — they were getting divorced and working and respecting independence, so they left us a lot of times to Scooby Doo,” says Calhoun. “But we’re going a bit far in the other direction and paying so much attention that we’re picking up on every blip in our kids’ whims.”
(note that many parents of Gen X’ers were actually of the Silent generation born 1925-1942)
But this one totally misses the point:
As for today’s little kids? “No one will want to hire them,” says Brody. That’s not an encouraging thought, especially in these economic times.
The kids described in the article are the generation AFTER the Millennials (born 1981-200?), tentatively known as “Homelanders” (born after 2003 or so). They are likely to follow in the footsteps of the Silent Generation by becoming conformist young adults. How is this possible? Consider that most Gen X parents are not particularly permissive with their children. They often enforce strict rules and boundaries for thier kids inside and outside the home. But Gen X parents don’t really care what society thinks about their parenting or whether their kids obey society’s rules. So the kids get two messages: my parents will protect me from the outside world as long as I follow their rules (and they will be there to enforce them).
The message that Gen X’ers give their kids is, “Follow MY rules and there will be a good outcome”. Once translated into an adult mentality (in the Homelanders) that sounds a lot like a recipe for conformity (“Follow the BOSS’s rules and there will be a good outcome”). I think that some of the psych’s interviewed are confusing the permissiveness of the Silents and Boomers with the “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks” of the X’ers. Just because we don’t care whether Johnny takes away your kid’s toy, doesn’t mean we are permissive: it means we don’t give a damn about YOUR kid.