Are you a Generation X parent (and consequently a monster parent)?

Were you born between 1965 and 1979?

If so, you might well be the Gen X-“monster parent” teachers (and the rest of society) are talking about. One way to find out is to read the terrific article written by Susan Gregory entitled “A Teacher’s Guide to Generation X Parents: How to work with well-meaning but demanding moms and dads” that was published in the Feb 2010 issue of Edutopia Magazine.

Generation X counts for about 48 million people in the United States, a group that’s smaller than the generation of the baby boomers (1946–1964), or Generation Y (1980–2001), which followed it.

The Gen X-er demographic characteristics work roughly for Japanese parents too but with a ten year delay or so, with a few cultural modifications like more Japanese moms tend more to be stay-at-home moms (due to peculiar societal and organizational strictures)…but the generalizations mostly apply…which is why the complaint of “monster parents” surfaces the most with this generation of teachers in Japan.

Back to Gregory’s article…

Gregory says Generation X-er parents are often viewed by teachers as “obnoxious, self-righteous, implacable” and the ” Generation X parent” is a “a demographic that has been making teachers’ and school administrators’ jobs a pain in the butt for more than a decade”.

Here are some characteristics identifiable of Gen X-er “monster parents” (the term was first coined in the US, but is now most commonly applied by the Japanese media as well as elsewhere in Asia) distilled from Gregory’s article:

–  Anything that smacks of bureaucratic red tape or protocol is an irritant. Gen X-ers have had to fend for themselves, and are likely to go over your head if they don’t get the results they want from you.

– Gen X parents are the technology-revolution generation – and are know-it-alls – quick to whip together a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation to show you how to reorganize your classroom, even the entire school.

– While Boomer parents assumed that since their kids would turn out fine, like themselves, Gen X doesn’t have that assumption — they’ve seen what it’s like to have the rug pulled out from underneath us.
– As parents, they are the control freaks anxiously arranging developmentally appropriate playdates for their three-year-olds. In kindergarten, they are frantic that other parents’ children are starting to read cat and rat, while their kids still having trouble identifying lowercase letters. They think the gold-star system and such, archaic and punitive, and demand alternative achievement systems. By grade school, they’re demanding to know why the math program is not challenging enough for our child and will email complaints about the seating chart, openly deride the arts instruction or rally other parents to the point of a coup d’état. By middle school, their kids according to the article, “have schedules and professional support staffs that resemble those of corporate lawyers”.
– As parents, they are “ferocious advocates” for their kid(s) and demand for power and to be involved in making decisions for their kid — even interviewing potential teachers — regardless of what is good for the group.
– Generation X, according to a 2004 study,  is on of the least parented, least nurtured generations – half of all US Gen Xers’ parents are divorced, so Xers were the first to be raised in record numbers in day care, with some 40 percent having been latchkey kids. Xers have been taking care of themselves since we started going to school, don’t trust authority figures, presumably because they weren’t trustworthy when Xers were growing up. Xers’ parents didn’t know what was going on at school, and our teachers didn’t know what was going on at home. Xers don’t want to let this happen to their children and will do whatever they have to do to make sure our kids get what they need.
– Gen X parents, teachers say, rebel against worksheet-based homework, or complain that the curriculum isn’t challenging, rich, or imaginative enough. A lot of Gen Xers resort a lot to self-help books, and the education (that defines them), the one they got for themselves, outside of school. Gen Xers seem to want schools to do everything: provide our children with rigorous academic instruction, socialize them flawlessly, and offer them the rich cultural experiences we value so much. Gen Xers are angry and disappointed when schools fall short of our impossible expectations.
– The article says, the education that Gen X wants for their children is the either the one, they didn’t get or the one that defines them, the one they got for themselves outside of school. It concludes that “at the heart of all Gen X parental behavior is probably what it is for all neglected children. …Generation X is looking to teachers and schools to heal childhood wounds” Gen Xers are basically saying to teachers “pay attention to us, take us seriously — give us your time”.

So do you recognize yourself? Are you a Gen X-er? If so read the article linked below and laugh at yourself, if not, read the article anyway and learn some tips on how to deal with Gen X-ers…

Source: A Teacher’s Guide to Generation X Parents: How to work with well-meaning but demanding moms and dads.
by Susan Gregory Thomas published in Edutopia Magazine Feb 2010 issue

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