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Lost in Translation: How Some Gen X Parents Struggle to Connect with Emotionally Attuned Gen Z Kids

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Generation X (Gen X) parents often find themselves struggling to understand their Generation Z (Gen Z) children. This is because Gen Z kids are more emotionally attuned than previous generations, and their parents may have a harder time relating to this emotional intelligence.

Gen Z children have grown up in a world that values emotional intelligence and awareness. They are encouraged to express their emotions, both positive and negative, and to be more in tune with their own feelings and the feelings of others. This is in contrast to the more reserved nature of many Gen X parents, who may have grown up in an era where expressing emotions was not as valued or encouraged.

As a result, Gen X parents may struggle to understand their Gen Z children's emotional needs, which can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. For example, a Gen X parent may see their child crying or expressing sadness as a sign of weakness or vulnerability, while their Gen Z child may view it as a healthy and necessary expression of their emotions.

Additionally, Gen Z children often have different ways of communicating and expressing their emotions, such as through social media and digital platforms. This can further complicate communication between parents and children, as Gen X parents may not be as comfortable with these new forms of communication.

So, what can Gen X parents do to better understand and relate to their more emotionally attuned Gen Z children? One approach is to educate themselves on the importance of emotional intelligence and the ways in which it can benefit individuals in their personal and professional lives. Parents can also work on developing their own emotional intelligence and expressing their own emotions in healthy ways, which can set an example for their children.

It's also important for parents to listen to their children and validate their emotions, even if they don't fully understand them. This can help build trust and strengthen the parent-child relationship.

Finally, parents can work on finding common ground and shared interests with their children. Whether it's a shared hobby, activity, or even a TV show or movie, finding ways to connect on an emotional level can help bridge the generational gap and build a stronger relationship.

So, while it may be challenging for Gen X parents to understand their more emotionally attuned Gen Z children, it's important to make an effort to listen, validate, and connect with them on an emotional level. By doing so, parents can build stronger relationships with their children and help prepare them for a world that values emotional intelligence and awareness. Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead: Brave work. Tough conversations. Whole hearts. Random House.

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Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., & Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: A theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5), 834-848.

Elfenbein, H. A. (2007). Emotion in organizations: A review and theoretical integration. Academy of Management Annals, 1(1), 315-386.

Haidt, J. (2006). The happiness hypothesis: Finding modern truth in ancient wisdom. Basic Books.

Lyons, S. T., Schweitzer, L., & Ng, E. S. (2015). How have careers changed? An investigation of changing career patterns across four generations. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 30(1), 8-21.

Twenge, J. M. (2017). iGen: Why today's super-connected kids are growing up less rebellious, more tolerant, less happy--and completely unprepared for adulthood--and what that means for the rest of us. Simon and Schuster.

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