By BRIGITTE ROZARIO
Generation Y and Z have grown up not knowing a world without the Internet. For them, everything is readily available at their fingertips. They have instant food, instant information and they want instant answers and success. They don’t believe in downtime nor do they believe in wasting time.
These are the two generations that parents today find themselves raising. Generally, Generation Y includes those born from 1981-1994; while Generation Z includes those born from 1995 till 2009.
Parenting Generation Y and Z proves to be challenging for Baby Boomers (those born from 1946-1964) and Generation X (those born from 1965-1980) who often find themselves unable to keep up with their children.
With that in mind, parents and authors Jamilah Samian and her husband Ahmad Fakhri Hamzah have written a book called The Groovy Guide to Parenting Gen Y and Z.
Jamilah and Ahmad have six children – four Gen Y’s and two Gen Z’s.
In addition, they have interviewed many parents, teenagers and children on this subject and both Jamilah and Ahmad have been involved in training parents (in seminars) and youths (leadership and public speaking workshops) since 2006.
It was at these seminars that parents kept asking them how to raise Gen Y and Z. This led to the couple authoring this book.
“We realise that there is a gap between current theories and action. In short, how do you translate those theories you read about raising kids who eat, sleep and breathe the Internet into action? Everyone knows they are different; they speak a different language, they have their noses buried in the Internet all the time. This book is full of ideas, 123 to be exact, for what kind of specific actions you can take to raise them,” explains Jamilah.
According to her, the parenting style today cannot be the same as the one used by our parents to raise us. This is because the world has changed greatly since then. While we grew up watching our fathers leave home to go to work each morning, Gen Y and Z know there are options. There is flexi-hour work, freelancing, part-time work and working from home. They know that they have choices.
As for school, while most of us went to government schools, today’s children have a host of options – government, private, international and even home schooling.
“They live in an environment where they have a lot of options, where flexibility is acceptable and they thrive on technology. They live in an environment where information is easily available and they know that no one knows everything.
“As parents, understanding the environment that they are in and being able to adopt and adapt makes us much better sounding boards for them as they grow.
“They appreciate you more if you can explain to them your viewpoint rather than just be authoritative.
“The reason why there is a tendency to follow our parents’ parenting style is because our parents experimented on us, we turned out fine therefore it must be the right thing to do.
“But do not forget that the outside world also influences our children. That element is something you cannot ignore.”
Jamilah and Ahmad outline some common challenges and solutions to parenting Gen Y and Z:
Multitasking / lack of focus / short attention span
Multitasking works for certain low-level tasks such as chatting while having a sip of water and browsing the morning newspaper. However, research has proven that multitasking lowers the quality of work we produce for high-level activities. This is why Gen Y and Z children need to be trained to focus on one task at a time for certain activities.
Gen Y and Z are known for wanting everything NOW! Research proves that kids who are not able to wait for gratification are less likely to succeed in life. The antidote for Instant Gratification is Delayed Gratification. Parents need to train their children about delayed gratification – when you wait for something and work hard to achieve it, the reward is all that much more fulfilling.
A positive sense of entitlement pushes your Gen Y or Z to be more assertive. This is the kind of attitude that makes him ask questions in class or at the doctor’s or the restaurant because he feels entitled to an explanation from the teacher, doctor or waiter. However, if your child feels that you owe him a living or a reward for every task he does, that’s when the line has been crossed. Then, it is time to work on your child’s lack of gratitude, humility and inflated sense of self-esteem.
Unrealistic view of their comfortable lives
Gen Y and Z seem to see their parents as a safety net since most of their parents seem to live comfortable lives. Instead of becoming more self-reliant, they depend on their parents to feed and clothe them although they are already employed. As a parent, regardless of how much you are earning, you’ll have to decide whether you want your Gen Y to become more or less self-reliant. The sooner you train them to become self-reliant, the better it is for their self-worth. At times, this may mean tough love, saying “NO” as and when needed, with a clear purpose of raising them to become self-reliant.
Balance of need and deserve
Jamilah does not believe parents today are spoiling their Gen Y and Z children. They are merely equipping them with the tools they need to survive in today’s technologically-equipped world.
“It’s all about balance. You give them what they need and deserve; without overdoing it. Don’t make life too easy for your kids. Regularly throw them challenges that stretches them a bit more than the usual.
“Don’t try too hard to please when things don’t work out for your kids. Resilience is something that will do any kid a lot of good,” she says.
Jamilah and Ahmad’s son recently wanted to visit his friend in South Africa. Instead of buying his flight ticket for him and paying for his accommodation, they suggested he find a way to earn enough money for his flight ticket. That’s exactly what he did by selling chocolate chip cookies, which proved to be a hit.
Not only did their son earn enough money for the flight ticket; business was so good he has decided to continue his cookie business!
|Jamilah and Ahmad, authors of the book ‘The Groovy Guide to Parenting Gen Y and Z’, advocate engaging Generation X and Y and harnessing their strengths.|
Communication and technology
Jamilah says that getting on Facebook and other social networking sites helps communication but it doesn’t replace face-to-face interaction with her children.
Ahmad adds that it’s all about communication and building the relationship.
“Which communication tool is more effective? It may not be the mode of communication for all your children.
“I think you need to look at it and see if it is going to help you become a better parent. If so, then why not use it? You may find that (using these social networks) opens up communication with your children,” he says.
They both agree that communication may be the most challenging aspect of parenting Gen Y and Z.
But, as Ahmad points out, communication has been a parenting challenge for all generations through the ages.
With the changing environment and many more elements to deal with, parents might feel like they need to be very involved in their children’s lives. This poses another challenge, however. In monitoring and guiding the children, there is a risk of micromanaging. There is a fine line between guiding and micromanaging and it is so easy to cross it.
Jamilah warns parents not to cross that line as the hand-holding and micromanaging should stop when the child starts working or is legally an adult. Parents should start letting go and allowing the child to take the lead as they enter the teenage years.
“Realising that each and every child has his or her own unique strengths, we as parents must take the responsibility to harness that strength.
“That’s the power of parenting,” says Ahmad.
Ultimately, the couple advises parents to engage their Gen Y and Z children.
“Perform tasks with them. Get them involved. Do things together with them and let them participate. It makes your relationship more engaging. Make it fun. They would love to be able to interact with you.
“You just need to be more interactive with them as they are so easily distracted. However, once something catches their attention they will be glued to it,” he says.
Ahmad suggests giving each child a task when going on trips. Put them in charge of something and let them be responsible. Let go and give them the responsibility of some decisions.
This is how you keep Gen Y and Z engaged.
(as reported in ParenThots, Star Online, 4 April 2011)