Who are the Parents of Gen Z?
Who are the Parents of Gen Z?
Helicopter parents. We’ve all heard of them. Perhaps a name comes to your mind as you read this. But who are they, really, and why do they have these characteristics that involve being (what many would say is) overly-involved in their childrens’ lives, even as their children become adults?
It's important to understand the impetus of these characteristics, because they play a large and important role in every stage of the academic journey. We're diving into the idiosyncrasies of Generation Z helicopter parents that seem primarily dominated by the helicopter parenting strategy. We will look at their personalities, characteristics, and communication styles, and how these traits affect their decision making when it comes to making education choices for and with their children.
What is a Helicopter Parent?
Helicopter parenting is a style of raising children that involves a parent taking an overprotective or excessive interest in their childrens’ lives. For example, a parent of Generation Z may feel so strongly that their daughter should attend Harvard University that they write her admissions essay for her. Or they may exert their own passions or interests as a method of control, sending their child to an excessive number of piano lessons when the child really has no interest in this instrument at all.
Why Generation X is Primarily Made up of Helicopter Parents
Helicopter parents are almost all contained in Generation X, also known as the parents of Generation Z. As to where helicopter parents came from and why they choose this form of parenting (if they even willfully did so), there are several schools of thought.
Some people believe that the primary reason behind helicoptering is a fear for their child's safety and wellbeing, while others show it all stems from wanting their child to be the best they can be, and while others still hint that the reasoning is more about who they, themselves could never be than actually wanting their child to be great in their own anonymity.
But no matter which belief you subscribe to, at the heart of all of this is a pretty simple fact: Generation z helicopter parents are very involved in their children’s lives. And so this simple foundation of familial relationship should be the basis for actions and goals when it comes to communication.
Gen X Personality Traits
Generation X parents were raised by the Baby Boomers and seem to have some fairly generation-wide personality traits as a result of similar childhood events. This may help explain why they are so often labeled as helicopter parents, and provide some insight into how they communicate.
Some of the most defined characteristics of helicopter parents include:
They have a predisposition toward independence. They are resourceful, individualistic, self-sufficient, and problem-solving. They have a tendency to prefer to attack a problem themselves and find a solution unaided, rather than seek help from others.
What this means: This trait means that most parents of Gen Z students will be performing much of their own research and will become experts before even picking up the phone or sending an email. They are not afraid to speak their minds because they educate themselves ahead of time and are used to problem-solving on their own.
Parents of Generation Z are often much more casual than the preceding generation, and so they tend to be quite flexible and are far less tied to a strict timetable. They can adapt to changes quickly and they place value on informality.
What this means: This personality trait of the parents of Gen Z means that you can drop some of the formal greetings and procedures and focus more on building a relationship with them. They place value on diversity and bonding, and are not focused on archaic terminology.
Parents of Generation Z grew up during the technology age; they were the first generation to work with computers and have an adaptability to new technology.
What this means: This generation knows what they’re doing when it comes to tech products. Even if they may not be as adept as the younger generations who went to kindergarten with a smartphone in their hand, they adapt quickly to technology shifts and catch on to these trends without frustration.
How this Leads to a Desire for Control
These Gen X personality traits all sound pretty wonderful on the surface. But perhaps these, when combined with how they were raised—which was likely pretty hands-off—snowball into a feeling of needing control. And with that desire for control, we can see just how easy it would be to become a helicopter parent.
Communicating with Generation X Parents
Using the information above, we can draw a clear path to the way that the parents of Gen Z students communicate: informally, quickly, and with thought-out responses.
Best Methods of Communication for Helicopter Parents
They aren't hooked on just phone calls, so a text message is a perfectly acceptable way to reach them. Keep in mind that these messages should be fairly short (a lengthy text will lose their attention), informal in nature (this builds a relationship and makes them feel comfortable), and don’t be afraid to ask for feedback (open up the lines of communication and they will very likely oblige).
Open the lines of communication up and give those helicopters a place to land. Allow these parents to be involved, rather than trying to push them out or convince them to back off.
Talk to them, rather than at them, and invite them into the conversation. Really hear their concerns and address them informally and to-the-point.
How to Communicate Effectively with Parents of Gen Z
Even with these general guidelines, it can be a tricky process to navigate through effective text communication with parents. One major factor here is figuring out at what point a nudge becomes a nag so you can prevent the potential loss of communication and ensure successful campaigns.
Navigate Parent Communication with Confidence
When it comes time to begin reaching out to parents of Gen Z about admissions into your higher education institution, perhaps the largest consideration can be dialed back to a simple concept: understanding where they’re coming from.
Communicating with these Generation Xers at a time and place that takes their experiences into account will yield impactful results — growth in admissions and true enrichment of relationships.
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