We are in a real mess right now! It is estimated that nearly 43% of kids are living in single parents homes across the US. We are finding that a large percentage of kids under the age of 10 are being raised by grandparents and in a few cases even great grandparents. This is truly an epidemic that very few are talking about. The effects of kids being raised in single parent homes or with a grandparent are extreme. These kids statistically have lower school achievements, increased discipline problems, a smaller graduation rate, lower college attendance, increased criminal activities and so on. It’s certainly not all of these kids but a large number. We are also seeing a lot of kids raised by televisions and iPads. Kids these days have no attention span. One writer said they have the attention span of a goldfish. I’m not sure how they measured that but it is funny. So what’s the point here?
Before we get too deep let me share my background with you. When I pick up any book or listen to any speaker, I like to know what their qualifications are. I have been studying martial arts my entire life. I started at age 6 and have only taken short breaks. I am a 4th Degree Tae Kwon Do black belt, Judo black belt, and 1st degree (soon to be 2nd degree) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. I have been teaching for over 20 years. I am also a student ministry and college pastor. I have been in church ministry for 22 years. I hold a bachelors in Christian ministry and a Masters degree in Theology. I have been married to the same woman for 23 years and we have three children. My two oldest will graduate college in the spring of next year and my youngest is in his college sophomore year. I tell you all of that so you will know that when I give advice it is coming from a place of education and hands on experience.
So? I want to share advice with guardians of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, grandparent, uncle aunt, or adoptive parents, this will apply.
The first thing we have to understand is that they are different from us. Different is not bad, it’s just different and we need to understand them. Have you ever seen someone speak to a foreigner who doesn’t speak English. The American will start to speak English very slowly and loudly as if that will help the non-English
speaking person understand. It’s actually very amusing. A while back a guy came in to take classes. He was from Russia and didn’t speak English. We used our phones to communicate. We had to find a way to communicate to achieve any level of success. The same is true with Gen Z and Gen Alpha. Yelling at them and forcing our views will not work. We have to find ways to speak their language. Think about this:
They are the first generation ever raised with constant access to technology
They love to fact check everything by Google. They will fact check you while you are still speaking.
They are impatient because they have never had to wait to rent a movie or listen to a song. Everything is right at their fingertips.
They are desperate for guidance.
Gen Zers are very open to wanting direction. They want adults to be adults and to give them guidance. Across the board this age group will agree that they don’t need more friends, they need parents. One of the negative trends that we see in modern society is what we call the negotiation factor. That is letting children who are not mentally developed make decisions that will have great impacts on them. Let me give you an example. Think back to when you were eight years old. Your parents come in and ask if you want Eggs, bacon and a side of fruit for breakfast, or a cereal filled with sugar. Eight year old me was taking the cereal every time. I wouldn’t even consider the headache from the sugar I would have later. I wouldn’t think about the sugar crash and being tired in a few hours while I am at school. I would only think about what tasted good right now. The truth is that I needed my parents to make that decision for me. How? Just don’t give the other options. This is what we are doing. This will apply to food and all activities.
What decision should we make for our kids? First we have to consider the age. Here is the best recommendation I have based on years of study and experience. 0-8 the parent makes 100% of the decisions. It’s not a discussion, but you are going to do this because it’s good for you and it’s right. Around age 9-12 you will start to hear their thoughts but it’s still up to you. At age 13-16 you get their input and give them choices within certain parameters. This is what I call the testing years. You give them options to see if they choose right or wrong. You will still guide them and point them in the right direction. At age 17 up you are an advice giver and confidant. You are not finished parenting but at this point you have raised a young adult that understands consequence and has a good moral compass.
Just a little advice: When it comes to raising successful, responsible, and respectful kids there are certain things that should not be optional. In other words there are no negotiations here.
Go to Church and have them read the Bible. Even atheists have said that if people could just follow the lifestyle of Jesus the world would be a better place.
Teach them to swim and ride bikes. It will be hard getting them to put down the video games and to go outside. Once they get going you will see a different side of them.
Teach them to defend themselves. Children who are scared of being bullied are more likely to act out.
Take just a few minutes each night to ask them about their day, to listen to them, and to tell them how much you love them.
The last thing is this: If you tell them enough just how special they are, they just might start to believe you. That means they will start to see themselves not as another number, but as a special person with a great purpose.
I hope you have a blessed day