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On Raising Generation Alpha: Things Parents Can Learn From Previous Generations

On Raising Generation Alpha: Things Parents Can Learn From Previous Generations

(Note: this is an abbreviated and edited transcript from a Parent Coaching session of The “Momentum for Life” Scholar Success Program designed by Christina Callaway for Academic Networks.)

Defining Generation Alpha and What They Need from Parents Today

Generation Alpha, also known as Gen Alpha or the iGeneration, is the demographic cohort succeeding Generation Z. Individuals born between 2010 and 2025 are considered members of Generation Alpha.

Characteristics of Generation Alpha

There are a few defining characteristics that set Generation Alpha apart from previous generations.

Gen A Is Born With a Silver Bitcoin in Their Mouth

Technology is like toilet paper; meaning they are the first generation to be born into a world where technology is ubiquitous. It is somewhat disposable (in their eyes), yet hard to imagine life without it. They have never known a world without smartphones, social media, and searching the internet- but they are likely to be less addicted than their previous generation as they move to value IRL encounters (unless parents decidedly use tech as a babysitting tool).

This constant exposure to technology has given them a level of digital literacy that previous generations simply don’t have. To put this in perspective, many will never touch a functional rotary phone or card catalog system, much less see one outside of a museum.

Entrepreneurship is their Core Identity

Don’t expect them to label themselves by traditional job descriptions. They look forward to coming up with something new, as they were born into a world where new inventions, new buildings, and new media is par for the course. As a result of this mindset and their tech-savviness, Gen Alphas are also incredibly entrepreneurial.

They are constantly exploring new ideas and ways to make money. Thanks to the internet and parents who explore college and careers with children at an early age, this generation has more opportunities than ever before to turn their ideas into reality.

Instead of labeling themselves as a doctor, Gen Alphas are privy to using definitions like, “I help preserve the quality of life”, just because…well, with the right technology, they believe they can.

The World is Their Stage

Finally, Gen Alphas are marked by their diversity. They are a generation of global citizens who have been exposed to a wide variety of cultures, languages, and traditions. They are tolerant and accepting of different beliefs and customs.

Gen Alphas may have grown up in the United States, but they don t see it as their only home. When they connect with a Eurasian scholar online they bond by discovering that they have more similarities than differences.

It is likely that Gen Alphas will be the first generation to truly make a global impact. They are already forging new paths toward peace and tolerance in a world that is growing increasingly divided. This is partly due to parents who remain engaged and proactive and don’t leave academic success to the wind.

More parents will choose some level of home education, even if it is part-time. Therefore, their future impact can be attributed to their academic opportunities, their resourcefulness, and their willingness to work together.

Things we can learn from Generation X about Raising Culturally Competent Children

Connect during Times of Transition

As our world continues to become more and more connected, it’s important that we raise our children to be culturally competent. The earlier part of Generation X was the last to be born under Jim Crow.  They witnessed most of the visible transition with young minds.  The younger GenXers merged into racially desegregated schools and neighborhoods. They did not see “whites only” or “colored” signs above water fountains that explicitly advertised a caste system.

However, Gen X was openly taught about the damaging effects of prejudice in their history books.  Family history was passed down by their grandparents. Local history was shared in the pulpit and by neighbors at Sunday dinner.

Fact-Check Past Experiences and Move Forward

After all, it had only been 10-20 years from the end of J.Crow to their first day in kindergarten. Parents passed down sentiments from all perspectives, and Gen X had to filter their parents’ healing process through their own independent lens: be culturally competent and claim your own future, or stay bitter and get left behind.

Many in Gen X express cultural competence through the willingness to work and live together, even though historical events demonstrate that much progress is still yet to be made.

How to Use Generation X’s Experiences While Raising Culturally Competent Children:

1. Teach children about other cultures early on.

The earlier you start teaching your children about other cultures (even ones regarding disabilities and malformities), the better. It’s never too early to start instilling a sense of curiosity and respect for other cultures in your child.

Hey Gen X, remember the original Star Wars Saga (IV, V, and VI), Elephant Man, Karate Kid (I & II), and Do the Right Thing? Talk about a smorgasbord of breaking free from Hollywood stereotypes that parents just could not understand…until the next generation carried on the legacy with prequels and next-gen trilogies.

2. Encourage children to safely interact with people from other cultures.

One of the best ways to learn about another culture is to interact with someone who is from that culture. This can be done through various activities. Some like to travel, participate in exchange programs, or volunteer at local events.  Become involved in a culture different than your own.

One of the biggest myths is that a child will become impressionable when introduced to too many adult circumstances. This is true for some cases, such as with explicit images. However, most issues can be introduced in a wholesome, age-appropriate manner. Unresolved mysteries from childhood are the foundation for teenage rebellion or fractured adult relationships. In the age of Gen Alpha technology, if you don’t introduce it to them, their friends (or future coworkers) will.

If a parent is proactive in communication, bonding, and teaching skills, a child is more likely to adhere to family values when exposed to new cultures than a child who is not. Plus, the child will know how to address different cultures without losing opportunities for work or personal relationships.

3. Help children understand their own culture.

It’s important for children to understand and appreciate their own culture as they learn about others. Even if grandparents are not available to share the family history, or if they are not willing to talk about them, make an effort to connect your children with elders and historians in your community.



Things we can learn from Baby Boomers about Raising Resilient Children

As the oldest members of Generation Alpha reach the end of their tween years, it’s natural to wonder what parenting lessons GenX and Millenial parents can gain from previous generations. After all, today’s parents are faced with challenges that their parents and grandparents never encountered.

Fortunately, we can learn a lot from the Baby Boomer generation about raising resilient children. Here are just a few things we can instill in our Gen Alphas:

1. The importance of family dinners.

In today’s world of busy schedules and constant distractions, it’s easy to forget the importance of sitting down together as a family for dinner. But studies have shown that family dinners are crucial for children’s development. They help kids perform better in school, develop healthier eating habits, and feel more connected to their families.

2. The power of positive reinforcement.

It’s easy to see mistakes and immaturity. However, positive reinforcement builds confidence and a warm home environment.  The Baby Boomers were told that “you can do anything with a good education”, along with other hope-filled messages.  While the educational system needs remediation, the need for positive messages still remains.  An important lesson from the Baby Boomer generation is that it’s possible to raise children who will be happy, successful, and compassionate people by using positive reinforcement.

3. Allowing more time for family fun.

With so many responsibilities, it’s easy to let the fun times slip away from our families. But studies show that children who engage in creative play and have opportunities to enjoy their physical environment are more likely to succeed in school.

How the Greatest Generation Laid the Groundwork for Raising Confident Children

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion about the “Greatest Generation” and what today’s young people can learn from them. When it comes to raising confident children, there are a few key things we can take from the Greatest Generation.

First, the Greatest Generation experienced a time of great economic insecurity.

This meant that they had to be resourceful and creative in order to make ends meet. As a result, they tended to be more independent and self-reliant than subsequent generations. Today, many young people are facing similar economic challenges. By teaching our children to be resourceful and self-reliant, we can help them build the confidence they need to succeed in life.

Second, the Greatest Generation was raised with a strong sense of community.

They were taught to help others and not be self-absorbed. This was a virtue that helped them build a strong society that continues to benefit us today. By teaching our children about the importance of community, we can ensure they grow up to be responsible citizens who contribute to society.

The Greatest Generation was raised to be loyal.

They were loyal to family.  They were loyal to building a better life with their community.

Many parents say they want their children to be “good” people, yet they isolate their children from communities that regularly build, worship, play, or volunteer. Oftentimes, school groups serve as scapegoats for attempts to socialize. Traditional schools do not replace parental guidance. They are not designed to teach long-term relational skillsets, like loyalty.

Be Proactive in Raising Resilient Generation Alpha

All of these traits are essential to our Generation Alpha children’s success. Parents of this generation will do well to raise their children to be self-reliant, community-minded, and loyal in order for them to have the best chance possible of achieving their full potential.

Above all, allow children to be themselves. Due to past fears of seeming “socially awkward”, many parents discourage children from using their imagination.  But research shows that the imagination is a critical tool for growth and development. When we allow children to be themselves, they develop confidence, self-esteem, and creativity.