Judging,  Parenting

‘Adulting’ Just Grew Up. Please Follow Along, Gen Z.


“The kid called the officer a pig. To his face.”

“A student challenged me in the middle of class about how my assigned homework was unnecessary.”

“A parent told me her son can’t pass P.E. because he has a reading disability.”

Wouldn’t you love to see the research that connects Shakespeare to dressing out?

‘To change or not to change: that is the question.’

These real-life examples and similar instances are popping up all over middle and high school campuses. But that shouldn’t cause any old people to murmur, “Dang those teenagers,” while shaking their heads and alphabetizing their VHS tapes.

If you’re of a certain age and hold strong feelings about respect and manners, the past two decades might have left a bitter taste on your tongue. And just when we’re seeing the Millennial debate die down, we have a whole new generation to learn about.

Chances are you’re already connected to this group, though you may not know what to call them.


The Youngest American Generation

Behold, Gen Z.

Born after 1996, the oldest of this bunch turn 21 this year, but like the two we have in our home, the majority are in their teens and tweens.

The Center for Generational Kinetics studies generations and their behaviors. Here’s how they explain the date ranges for this new group:

“The end of the Millennial generation and the start of Gen Z in the United States are closely tied to September 11, 2001. That day marks the number-one generation-defining moment for Millennials. Members of Gen Z—born in 1996 and after—cannot process the significance of 9/11 and it’s always been a part of history for them.”

This next group of wide-eyed wonders has the potential to set a new standard—and they just might have their predecessors to thank.

Also know as iGen, Centennials, and Generation Z, they are said to be more entrepreneurial than Millennials, are highly motivated, competitive, independent, not convinced traditional college is the best or only way to success, self-reliant, innovative, and goal-oriented.

They are more racially diverse than any other generation, and a huge portion of them want healthy food—especially if it’s portable.

They’re also the most technologically fluid among the human race, but… you might want to sit for this… as Deep Patel reported in Forbes Magazine, the majority of them actually prefer to talk face to face.

Ladies and Gents, there’s hope we’ll see eyeballs once again.

photo cred: Joseph Gonzalez

All that could be fantastic news for college professors and employers, but since some of these young bucks are still sleeping with teddy bears and learning to ride bikes, let’s hold off on judging this massive population of hormonal cuties.

Handing them a mop, plopping them behind the wheel and teaching them how to clean a toilet could potentially separate the wheat from the chaff.

According to the New York Times, Gen Z accounts for over 60 million people in the U.S. Within the next three years they will become the fastest-growing generation in both the marketplace and the workplace, possibly topping 84 million by 2020, making up almost 25% of the population.

That’s a heck of a lot of pre-adults who need to learn how to adult.

Photo by Victoria Palacios on Unsplash


A few months ago this fabulous and slightly annoying word earned a place in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Adulting (v): to do grown-up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown-ups.

In other words, normal life.

Ready for a few other invigorating additions to Mr. Webster’s?

  • Train wreck (me at 5 a.m.)
  • Safe space
  • Ginger (our eldest)
  • Weak sauce
  • Humblebrag (don’t attempt this in public)
  • Ping
  • Seussian (R.I.P., Dr.)
  • Sriracha
  • Photobomb (queso!)
  • And one of my favorites… Yowza.

But back to the group some haters call train wrecks….


Our Millennial Amigos

If you’ve ever participated in Millennial-bashing, let’s remember that stereotyping a 18-year span of humans to all act one particular way isn’t exactly fair or accurate.

Well, maybe except for a few viral videos that left us snorting in the middle of guilty laughter.

But after living and working with approximately 68 of them over eight years, I can tell you two things:

  1. Those videos are accurate.
  2. Those videos aren’t accurate.

Conclusion? We see trends, but everyone’s different.


Think about it: if your parents or grandparents described your generation, what would they say?

Were you hungry like the wolf or were you livin’ on a prayer? Did you say “Papa, don’t preach” time after time, or “Wake me up before you go go”?

Just because I had a total eclipse of the heart and wanted to dance with somebody didn’t mean I wanted to be Jessie’s girl. Because let’s face it… we are the world, and it really don’t matter if you’re black or white.

Especially if you’re wearing a raspberry beret.

Maybe it’s time to remind the glass house-dwellers to clutch their stones and beat it.

I’m guessing most of us conceived in the 70s and raised in the 80s have a thing or two to say about the Walkman, fanny packs, Milli Vanilli and Aqua Net.

But our Gen Z offspring? They’re throwing around words like Supersonic Hyperloop Train and Yas Island, while telling us to Clap Back and Hit the Quan. Rest assured, they’re still speaking English, but don’t be ashamed if you need to calmly head for your dark closet and Google questionable words to make sure your favorite teen isn’t using a new drug and calling it a flower.

That’s a thing, btw.

Since I’m banking on the fact I don’t have any Gen Z readers, I’m talking to you, parents. And you, grandparents. And you, Mr. Neighbor of a young punk. And you, too, Influential Mentor Lady.

At the end of the day and the hype, let’s all remember that God is the creator of every generation, and finding the positive things about each one just might be the antidote for our anxiety.

Yes, some juveniles think, talk and behave different; that doesn’t mean they’re all delinquents. They may need a boost in the direction of adulting, but you may need them to program your Cozmo or Grillbot in the near future, so let’s bridge the gap, shall we?


P.S. Respect the old, don’t judge the young, even if they pierce their tongue.


“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.”  ~Psalm 127:3


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Sorry, Millennials… this one’s just too good:




  • Laurie

    “… let’s all remember that God is the creator of every generation, and finding the positive things about each one just might be the antidote for our anxiety.” YES! I meet with a group of high school girls, a d-group that meets weekly. They dress crazy. They say crazy things. They use crazy words (that I have to go Google). But they are following hard after God. Hard stop.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks for the yes, Laurie. I throw a resounding yes in your direction too! If we could all get past the exteriors and remind ourselves there are some amazing teens striving hard after the things of Christ… what a wonderful world it would be. I truly could care less if you have fuschia hair, 13 piercings and want to talk about unicorns. Do you love Jesus? Bring it.

  • Mary

    I love your wise words Carrie! We are House Parents for 100 millenials from 12 different countries right now. There are definitely some interesting differences in cultures and countries, but also a lot of similarities too. It’s so interesting and fun to see them all interact! Thanks for making me laugh, as always. Can I share the video? It’s great!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Mary. You sound like you definitely have your hands full! You may absolutely share the video.

  • Christina Price

    As a millennial, I appreciate this non-judgemental unbiased discussion of diffferent generations. I hear so many times that “my generation” is the problem. I agree that the younger generation must be taught how to “adult”, but they do bring a lot of positives to the table.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Christina. Your generation is certainly not the problem. Humans are the problem. 🙂 Good thing Jesus is the answer. Pretty sure every single generation has had negative things to say about the new kids on the block, but we press on. Thanks for your kindness, despite the video I included. 🙂 We love Millennials!

  • Gidget

    Another great post. I especially loved the section where you inserted the popular song titles of our day… very clever. I did, I admit, click the links to the Kuri and Grillbot (we don’t have TV with commercials… just netflix) to see what they were. That video was hilarious, too! 🙂


    • Carrie Talbott

      Gracias, amiga. The song titles of our day… makes us sound old, but we are SO young. I didn’t know what the Kuri and Grillbot were either! Yeah, John Crist nails it every time. Thanks for chiming in!