I am happy to report that the future looks bright for our kids, and in turn, for our fragile society.
I came to this conclusion after, one, attending a graduation party, and two, reading a negative post on Facebook. Here is how I gathered my information to make my unscientific conclusion:
Lately there has been some negativity written and said about this latest generation, the Gen Z babies born between 1997 and 2012. Words such as privileged, entitled, and disrespectful are often thrown around. Just this morning I spent (err, wasted) time reading a Facebook thread about this precise issue where angered (hmmm, entitled) adults were complaining about groups of teens and tweens hanging out at a beach town Wawa after midnight.
Supposedly there were 50 plus kids being disruptive inside and outside of the store. Someone even posted a picture of the kids inside the Wawa and – shocker – they were just standing there either placing orders or waiting for their orders. The outrage.
Now I wasn’t there to witness this said bad behavior firsthand, and maybe the kids were being unruly and rude. It is possible. But I have been in situations where the Gen Z babies also demonstrate what is good about this world and where we are headed.
While the Wawa teens were unaware of the roast they would receive on social media the next day, I was walking a few doors down in my neighborhood to a late season graduation party. The young man who has dutifully assisted with our pet care for at least the last five years has finally, and sadly for my pets, graduated from high school.
He greeted me comfortably, maturely, and respectfully. He inquired about my pets and stated how he would miss them. He was beaming.
Within the hour, his other three siblings found me to say hello. You know how connected you feel to the kids who have been in and out of your house for years? Now I was beaming, especially as one of the daughters said she was hoping I would be there. During our conversation, I discovered she started her own company for graphic design and branding. So sharp and poised. Whipper snapper!
As with any graduation party, there were kids, a big old gaggle of kids. Boys, girls, friends, acquaintances. I am always drawn to the kids – their energy, their spirit, their youth. I did not want to be creepy stalker lady, so I kept my distance but was able to engage with a few. And they engaged back.
Polite look-me-in-the-eye young men. Told me where they graduated from high school and where they would soon be going off to college. Some were proudly sporting shirts with their future mascots. One young man who will be heading to TCU in Texas practiced his, “Yes, ma’am” on me. Delightful.
Another young man passed by wearing a sling around his neck to support his arm and shoulder. I know that apparatus. I just had to ask – “labrum tear?”
“Oh, my son had the same surgery” …he was kind enough to indulge me, tell me his surgeon’s name, and where he was in the healing process. I love these kids!
As I walked home, smiling, I encountered two more late arrivals. And yes, I had to chat with them too. I could not help myself. They were in a bit of hurry to get to the party, but they politely stopped and smiled and chatted, high on life and the opportunities waiting for them this fall.
While there will be troublemakers in the crowd, there will also be good, responsible, loyal Gen Zs out there. The majority seem to “get it” and respect it. For every Wawa reported incident, there are just as many kids out there making the right choices and moving in the right direction, representing their families and themselves well.
Now for the scientific portion of my rant: The rational part of a teen’s brain, the prefrontal cortex, is not fully developed until the age of 25, which puts our Gen Z front runners at just reaching full development of the brain’s rational part. Did you read that correctly? Twenty-five!
Mistakes will be made, and poor judgement may surface, but basically, they want to be more adult than they are emotionally capable of at this time in their young lives.
Let’s keep guiding them with patience and hope. Carry on, Gen Z.
Yes indeed, the future looks bright,