What we know so far, Gen Zers are a diverse and open-minded generation who’ve grown up enjoying the benefits of social media at their fingertips. Yet, equally, they’re also a group associated with high levels of anxiety and an overwhelming pressure to project success, both online and off.
Now that older Gen Zers have started to enter the workforce and, generally speaking, more of them will begin having children a few milestones down the road, it’s interesting to think how this group will approach and redefine parenthood.
This has already built a generation of outspoken individuals, taking a stand on issues like LGBTQ rights, racial bias and inequality, and plenty of other issues. As parents, Gen Zers are likely to value empathy and teach their children tolerance and acceptance of others.
Gen Zers are also stereotyped for spending hours curating their lives on social media. While this may have negative associations with mental health, it could also have positive use cases for parenting.
In a study done by Collage Group, over 70 percent of Gen Z females without children felt FOMO regularly, but only 36 percent with children felt the same. It seems the presence of kids may actually reduce some of the negative impacts of social mediIn a study done by Collage Group, over 70 percent of Gen Z females without children felt FOMO regularly, but only 36 percent with children felt the same. It seems the presence of kids may actually reduce some of the negative impacts of social media.
In recent years, the teen suicide rate has increased drastically – over 70 percent among 10-17 year-olds. However, 37 percent of Gen Zers also reported seeking help from mental health professionals, which is significantly higher than millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers.
As parents, Gen Zers are likely to emphasize the importance of mental health. They’re expected to help their children deal with life stressors in a different way than their parents did for them.
Because of their own positive experiences with treatment and therapy, Gen Z parents will also be more likely to identify symptoms of mental illness and seek it for their children.
Gen Z’s awareness and approach to mental health can have a positive influence on their parenting by allowing them to be emotionally healthy and drivers of open communication. It can also help shape a future generation that will understand, accept, and seek to treat their own mental health issues.
The ongoing conversations about mental illness also offer a better understanding of the impact it can have on daily life. Gen Zers want the energy and ability to travel, have new adventures, and make great friends. Having a mental health issue can stifle that dream and they would rather deal with the issue and hopefully move forward from it than to let it stop them from what they desire.
Gen Z’s willingness to identify and address their mental wellness—even long before they have children—may only enhance their parenting. Young adults who seek treatment before having kids will have a greater chance at being emotionally healthy parents, says Compton.
Whether a parent is excited about a promotion or steaming from a fight with an in-law, even the youngest children are able to pick up on emotional ups and downs in the household. If a parent is able to speak openly—appropriately for the child’s developmental level—the child will learn to do the same. Children will no longer need to ‘fill in the blank’ about why Mommy or Daddy is so sad or mad. Or are present and then suddenly disappear.
Similarly, parents will have developed emotional regulation and be able to teach that to their children. Discussion of emotions will be normalized within the family. Children and teens will understand that all feelings are accepted and that it is perfectly normal to reach out for support. They will also be able to create and nurture deep authentic relationships with their children through honest conversations.