The Strengths of Today’s Generation

The Strengths of Today's Generation

It took me six months to figure out how to turn on the caps lock on my smartphone.

That probably seems like a very small deal and you would be right. No one cares when writing a text that you use proper capitalization and most the time it will autocorrect for you. Given the atrocious grammar crimes you see on social media these days, being unable to type a capital A in the middle of a sentence hardly seems like much to fuss about.

So why do I bring it up? Because this 17-year-old high school dropout is making millions of dollars a year with an app he created while bored in science class. He lives in an apartment in New York that costs him $5000 per month. He moved from his hometown of Sydney to live in the US entirely on his own income.

It is difficult for me to fathom that level of success in someone so young. But when I look at my own children and I see how quickly they pick up on literally anything technology related, I realize that there is something very special about today’s generation.

Generation Z and the Age of Innovation

I personally believe that every generation has a unique quality that makes it amazing for its time. Generation Z, however, never fails to leave me utterly astounded.

Let’s take a look at some of the differences for those growing up in today’s world. For one thing, they are the first generation that have lived with technology on a modern scale. Many of us remember the early days of the internet when it took an hour to download a 30 second music clip from a fan website. Others still remember the days before the web, or when cellphones were giant bricks, or when there were no phones not attached to a cord in the wall.

Not only have Millennials and Post-Millennials embraced technology, they have made it entirely their own and created a new economy and way of life. Though it started with the kids of the 90’s, the Naughties are quickly taking up the banner and doing amazing things that show the true innovation of their time.

I watch this in my own children. They can get onto a computer and find information on literally any subject. They show me how to protect myself on the web (a turnaround from my obsessive monitoring of their activities in childhood). Most of their school work is online based and they not only have resources I couldn’t have dreamed of when I was their age, but they make their own to share with others.

The Self-Centered Masses

For years I have read articles, opinion pieces and social media rants claiming that the modern generation are self-centered, uncaring and cynical. That their brains are clouded by social media trends and expectations. That is in addition to claims that teenagers today are lazy, unmotivated and a number of other unflattering descriptors.

I will admit I don’t have statistics on this matter. But from what I have seen from my kids and their friends, it seems that the opposite is true. Generation Z is opened to a wider view of the world and more connected to people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds. There is a deep concern for the state of the world and a desire to take part in the process of bringing it to task.

Perhaps this false impression of their worth is contributing to the rise of depression seen in those under the age of 18, a worry for many of us who watch our children battle it.

Seeing Our Teens For Who (and What) They Are

It seems to me that much of the criticism aimed at Generation Z is due to a lack of understanding of the world they live in. Teenagers today have adapted to a fast paced, competitive and often frightening world. They are bombarded with media, opinions, information and possibilities. Sitting down and speaking to them shows how much they are impacted and how difficult it can be to navigate.

I would encourage anyone reading this to take a moment to really think of the current generation of young people. What have they accomplished? What do they seem set to do? What world do they live in and how is it different than the one we grew up in?

On a more personal level, consider similar questions for your own teenagers. What strengths do you see in them? What are some of the things they are better at than you? Do they recognize these abilities in themselves? Take time to acknowledge the many strengths and abilities that your teens of Generation Z demonstrate. Challenge yourself to find positive attributes and skills within the other generation brackets as well. Most of all, be sure to tell your own children what you notice about their strengths and encourage them to continue building upon those talents.

Through attempting to truly understand our kids and how they may see their lives, we can begin the challenging process of changing our own thinking about who and what they are. That may be one of the most valuable gifts we can give them….really seeing them.


About the Author: Cindy Price

Cindy Price is a Northern Utah wife, mom, and writer. She has 15 years experience writing educational content in the many areas of parenting, with an emphasis on teen-related issues, from which she applies and expounds on her personal experience raising three teenagers. You can find Cindy on Twitter.

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Growth doesn’t always announce itself in ways that feel safe or invited. Often, it can leave us exhausted and confused and with dirt in our pores from the fury of the battle. It is this way for all of us, our children too. 

The truth of it all is that we are all born with a profound and immense capacity to rise through challenges, changes and heartache. There is something else we are born with too, and it is the capacity to add softness, strength, and safety for each other when the movement towards growth feels too big. Not always by finding the answer, but by being it - just by being - safe, warm, vulnerable, real. As it turns out, sometimes, this is the richest source of growth for all of us.
When the world feel sunsettled, the ripple can reach the hearts, minds and spirits of kids and teens whether or not they are directly affected. As the important adult in the life of any child or teen, you have a profound capacity to give them what they need to steady their world again.

When their fears are really big, such as the death of a parent, being alone in the world, being separated from people they love, children might put this into something else. 

This can also happen because they can’t always articulate the fear. Emotional ‘experiences’ don’t lay in the brain as words, they lay down as images and sensory experiences. This is why smells and sounds can trigger anxiety, even if they aren’t connected to a scary experience. The ‘experiences’ also don’t need to be theirs. Hearing ‘about’ is enough.

The content of the fear might seem irrational but the feeling will be valid. Think of it as the feeling being the part that needs you. Their anxiety, sadness, anger (which happens to hold down other more vulnerable emotions) needs to be seen, held, contained and soothed, so they can feel safe again - and you have so much power to make that happen. 

‘I can see how worried you are. There are some big things happening in the world at the moment, but my darling, you are safe. I promise. You are so safe.’ 

If they have been through something big, the truth is that they have been through something frightening AND they are safe, ‘We’re going through some big things and it can be confusing and scary. We’ll get through this. It’s okay to feel scared or sad or angry. Whatever you feel is okay, and I’m here and I love you and we are safe. We can get through anything together.’
I love being a parent. I love it with every part of my being and more than I ever thought I could love anything. Honestly though, nothing has brought out my insecurities or vulnerabilities as much. This is so normal. Confusing, and normal. 

However many children we have, and whatever age they are, each child and each new stage will bring something new for us to learn. It will always be this way. Our children will each do life differently, and along the way we will need to adapt and bend ourselves around their path to light their way as best we can. But we won't do this perfectly, because we can't always know what mountains they'll need to climb, or what dragons they'll need to slay. We won't always know what they’ll need, and we won't always be able to give it. We don't need to. But we'll want to. Sometimes we’ll ache because of this and we’ll blame ourselves for not being ‘enough’. Sometimes we won't. This is the vulnerability that comes with parenting. 

We love them so much, and that never changes, but the way we feel about parenting might change a thousand times before breakfast. Parenting is tough. It's worth every second - every second - but it's tough. Great parents can feel everything, and sometimes it can turn from moment to moment - loving, furious, resentful, compassionate, gentle, tough, joyful, selfish, confused and wise - all of it. Great parents can feel all of it.

Because parenting is pure joy, but not always. We are strong, nurturing, selfless, loving, but not always. Parents aren't perfect. Love isn't perfect. And it was meant to be. We’re raising humans - real ones, with feelings, who don't need to be perfect, and wont  need others to be perfect. Humans who can be kind to others, and to themselves first. But they will learn this from us. Parenting is the role which needs us to be our most human, beautifully imperfect, flawed, vulnerable selves. Let's not judge ourselves for our shortcomings and the imperfections, and the necessary human-ness of us.❤️
The behaviour that comes with separation anxiety is the symptom not the problem. To strengthen children against separation anxiety, we have to respond at the source – the felt sense of separation from you.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person, there will be always be anxiety unless there is at least one of 2 things: attachment with another trusted, adult; or a felt sense of you holding on to them, even when you aren’t beside them. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it needs more than an adult being present. Just because there is another adult in the room, doesn’t mean your child will experience a deep sense of safety with that adult. This doesn’t mean the adult isn’t safe - it’s about what the brain perceives, and that brain is looking for a deep, felt sense of safety. This will come from the presence of an adult who, through their strong, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for them, and their joy in doing so. The joy in caretaking is important. It lets the child rest from seeking the adult’s care because there will be a sense that the adult wants it enough for both.

This can be helped along by showing your young one that you trust the adult to love and care for your child and keep him or her safe in your absence: ‘I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.’ This doesn’t mean children will instantly feel the attachment, but the path towards that will be more illuminated.

To help them feel you holding on even when you aren’t with them, let them know you’ll be thinking of them and can’t wait to be with them again. I used to tell my daughter that every 15 seconds, my mind makes sure it knows where she is. Think of this as ‘taking over’ their worry. ‘You don’t have to worry about you or me because I’m taking care of both of us – every 15 seconds.’ This might also look like giving them something of yours to hold on to while you’re gone – a scarf, a note. You will always be their favourite way to safety, but you can’t be everywhere. Another loving adult or the felt presence of you will help them rest.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to say or whether to say anything at all. It doesn’t matter if the ‘right’ words aren’t there, because often there no right words. There are also no wrong ones. Often it’s not even about the words. Your presence, your attention, the sound of your voice - they all help to soften the hard edges of the world. Humans have been talking for as long as we’ve had heartbeats and there’s a reason for this. Talking heals. 

It helps to connect the emotional right brain with the logical left. This gives context and shape to feelings and helps them feel contained, which lets those feelings soften. 

You don’t need to fix anything and you don’t need to have all the answers. Even if the words land differently to the way you expected, you can clean it up once it’s out there. What’s important is opening the space for conversation, which opens the way to you. Try, ‘I’m wondering how you’re doing with everything. Would you like to talk?’ 

And let them take the lead. Some days they’ll want to talk about ‘it’ and some days they’ll want to talk about anything but. Whether it’s to distract from the mess of it all or to go deeper into it so they can carve their way through the feeling to the calm on the other side, healing will come. So ask, ‘Do you want to talk about ‘it’ or do you want to talk about something else? Because I’m here for both.’ ♥️
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