Generation Z is often regarded as the most misunderstood generation. These young people abide by a set of values influenced by social media. Unlike previous generations, these internet-influenced values impact every part of their lives. As many of the older Gen Zers enter parenthood, it is evident they will take a unique approach.
Gen Z is learning from their parents’ mistakes. This generation has the power to abandon the harmful parenting techniques that raised them.
Although there is discussion regarding what age range qualifies as Gen Z, nonpartisan think tank Pew Research Center categorizes Gen Z as those born after 1996.
One factor that differentiates Gen Z parents from previous generations is their understanding of mental health.
According to a report published by the American Psychological Association, Gen Z is more likely to seek mental health help than previous generations. Specifically, 37% of Gen Zers surveyed reported receiving help from a mental health professional, while only 26% of their Gen X parents reported receiving help.
There has been a stigma associated with mental health for years. While it still exists, it is less prevalent among Gen Z.
Therapist Jason Woodrum spoke in an interview with Parents magazine about the stigma shift and how it could lead to a generation of more understanding parents.
“Gen X and Millennials also grew up in a time where larger social stigmas around seeking assistance with mental health symptoms were still largely shared,” Woodrum said. “[Gen Z] have inherited a world in which not only do we know more on how to treat anxiety, but we are also less inclined to feel judged by others for seeking help in the first place.”
Many of us grew up in households with parents suffering from untreated mental health issues. It seems as though Gen X did not consider how neglecting their own mental health would affect their children. These unstable environments influenced many to establish a healthy relationship with mental health before pursuing parenthood.
In addition to mental health awareness, studies predict Gen Z parents will also value acceptance and open communication more than previous generations.
Many Gen Zers had to cope with rejection upon opening up to parents about subjects like gender identity and sexuality. We want to create safe and accepting environments for our children and abandon this harmful mindset.
According to asurvey conducted by Pew Research Center, Gen Z is generally more accepting than older generations. These young people generally see societal change as positive. Previous generations, including baby boomers and Gen X, are less likely to have this opinion.
About 48% of Gen Zers surveyed say legalized gay marriage is good for our society. Comparatively, only 33% of Gen Xers and about 27% of boomers say this is a good thing.
This open-mindedness is likely to influence our generation’s approach on parenting. We are more willing to have open conversations about these topics because many of us did not have the option growing up.
I never felt comfortable opening up to my parents, and most of my friends share the same experience. As a result, we understand the harmful effects emotionally unavailable parents have on their children.
Child and adolescent therapist Bonnie Compton spoke with Parents magazine about what we can expect from Gen Z’s fresh parenting methods.
“Discussion of emotions will be normalized within the family,” Compton told Parents. “Children and teens will understand that all feelings are accepted and that it is perfectly normal to reach out for support. They will also be able to create and nurture deep authentic relationships with their children through honest conversations.”
These authentic relationships are nonexistent for many Gen Zers and their parents now. Research shows there is a disconnect between our generations’ values and priorities. While this disconnect has thus far been negative for many of us, it will help our generation progress as parents.
I believe Gen Z parents aim to fill in the gaps Gen X left them with. We are working to eliminate the mental health stigma that prevented many of our parents from seeking much needed help. We refuse to continue this cycle of trauma-dumping.