Marking our unique identity.

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In the Jan/Feb edition of Group, Rick Lawrence shares some interesting stats about previous generations and their primary identifiers.  Sighting a report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project (which I could not find), Rick shares what the Millennial, Gen X, Boomer, and Silent Generations list as their top 5 identifiers – the things that set them apart.

MILLENNIAL (mid 1980’s + early 2000’s)

  • Technology – 24%
  • Pop Culture – 11%
  • Liberal/Tolerant – 7%
  • Smarter – 6%
  • Clothes – 5%

GEN X (1960’s + early 80’s)

  • Technology – 12%
  • Work Ethic – 11%
  • Traditional – 7%
  • Smarter – 6%
  • Respectful – 5%

BOOMER (1945 + 1960’s)

  • Work Ethic – 17%
  • Respectful – 14%
  • Values/Morals – 8%
  • “Baby Boomers” – 6%
  • Smarter – 5%

SILENT (1925 + 1945)

  • World War II – 14%
  • Smarter – 13%
  • Honest – 12%
  • Work Ethic – 10%
  • Values/Morals – 10%

Some interesting finds.  “Work Ethic”, “Respect”, and “Morals”  has apparently disappeared from the Millennial radar, while “Materialism”, “Self”, and “Acceptance” seem to have taken over.  Self-Innovation has replaced Self-Sacrifice.

Yes, we have progressed greatly over the years, which is good and should be commended, but in the process of achieving new heights, we have forgotten some important foundations: namely, it’s not about what we can get for ourselves, but rather what we can give and help make possible for others. (Insert the Golden Rule, or Jesus’ summation of the law: love God, love others.)

We live in a culture of greed and entitlement.  We think we are owed everything (“It’s mine and I will do with it what I want.”), and yet, at the end of the day, we really have gained nothing – except maybe bigger debt.  In the past, people had nothing, yet gave everything they could, so that some one had at least some thing.

Let’s be honest, we (the Boomers and Gen Xers) have allowed the current generation to run wild for far too long.  After all, this mess and shift of identity didn’t happen over night.  Our kids mimic what they have been shown/taught.

As youth workers and parents, then, how do we raise our children to hold onto the foundations and values of the past, while exploring and inventing possibilities for the future?

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