Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gen Alpha, Part 3

Part 3 of my musings on my daughter's generational affiliation: Gen Alpha.

According to the cyclical theory of Strauss and Howe (see Part 2), Gen Alpha should share a lot in common with their great-grandparents: The Baby Boomers. They are both Prophet generations.

This frightens me a little.

My parents are Boomers, so this feels weirdly like poetic justice that I will be raising the archetype of my parents' generation: idealists who overthrow (at times violently) the status quo to bring about a new social order.

Usually, this would bring to mind Vietnam protestors, anarchists, malcontents or hippies. But what if you were politically or socially a conservative Boomer? Were you simply a generational misfit?

Nope. You fulfilled your generational yearnings by enlisting in the Culture Wars.

My parents were such as these. Beginning with their votes for Reagan in 1981, my parents rebelled by pushing for social change in their own way. They enrolled their kids in Christian schools in the 80s and started homeschooling in the early 90s, fighting against what they viewed as the amoral, liberal onslaught.

While the wars have stalemated and wearied out Boomers, they still fight on, providing for some interesting relational dynamics between Boomers and their adult Millennial children, who have largely opted out of what we see as an increasingly misguided, ill-directed venture. As teenagers we might have looked and sounded just like our parents, but as we've come into our own, we've realized our parents' battle isn't ours.

Now, due to a variety of societal, economic, and personal factors, Millennials have been slow to become parents themselves. But we have started and as a generation even bigger in population than Boomers, I fully expect us to have the next baby boom: Gen Alpha. Only unlike our Hero counterparts, the Greatest Gen, who gave birth to the first baby boom generation (with a little help from the Silent Gen), Millennials won't be the only parents of Gen Alpha. The very same soup of factors that have caused Millennials to delay parenthood until now, have also affected Gen X and Gen Z--but in different ways.

End result? There will be THREE generations parenting Gen Alpha.

While it's possible the effect of three different generational parenting styles will moderate some of Gen Alpha's Prophet type nature, it's likely to make an already very diverse (ethnically-speaking) generation even more so (culturally). That combined with their sheer numbers and whatever unknown disastrous national and world events happen in their lifetime, could prove to create some pretty explosive results.

Does this mean that my daughter will be a rebel from the start? Maybe. Even in the womb, she's shown herself a nonconformist. (Well, the ultrasound tech seemed to think so since it took TWO one and a half hour sessions for the doctors to complete her twenty week anatomy scan. She's not shy. She's just an independent-minded introvert who didn't feel like being cooperative, er, social at the time. Incidentally, a pregnant Millennial friend of mine also witnessed her daughter's Gen Alpha traits en utero: her baby gave their ultrasound tech the finger.)

But maybe this is all much ado about nothing. After all, doesn't an individual's personality say more than the generalities of their generational collective? 

Perhaps. Yet I also can't escape the fact that we live as a collective--communities within communities. (Yes, I know, how Gen Y of me to be so communally-focused). Our Boomer parents who withdrew from society into entrenched subcultures failed to really produce a lasting lifestyle legacy. Most of us Evangelical Gen Yers who grew up like that have, as adults, decided that reengaging with society is a better way to be salt and light. (Kinda hard to salt and preserve a chunk of meat unless you saturate it. Equally difficult to light up a dark room from under the bed.) Although to be fair many formerly withdrawn Boomers have come around and are now engaging the hurting in their local communities alongside Gen X, Y, and Z.

So maybe my daughter will be an assertive, unstoppable crusader for whatever cause embeds itself into her heart and mind. Or maybe she'll express her Prophet idealism by quietly working behind the scenes toward slow social, political, or economic change. Even if she opts to be an Artist throw-back and "rebel" by identifying with Gen Z, her daddy and I will love her. And try to nurture and guide her the best we know how.

Just like our parents did for us. And their parents did for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Did something strike a chord with you? Let me know your thoughts!