I don’t know about you, but I needed a refresher course to write this article. So here we go! The Greatest Generation was born between 1901 and 1927. The Silent Generation was born between 1928 and 1945—my dad’s generation. Baby Boomers came into this world between 1946 and 1964. Gen X came along between 1965-1980—that’s me. The famous Millennials were born between 1981 and 1995. The Gen Z kids were born between 1996 and 2015—this is my kids’. And let’s not forget Generation Alpha, starting in 2016.
Recently, my dad, John and I, the boys, and their significant others got together for a weekend. I’ll admit I was nervous. Could these three generations co-exist under the same roof for several days in a row?
My dad’s generation, Silent Gen, are known as traditionalists, and are a smaller population due to low birthrates. This generation was raised to be seen and not heard, which is where they get their name. Would Dad enjoy hanging out with grandkids raised so differently from himself?
My generation, Gen X, is often called the forgotten generation. I assumed it’s because we can’t remember what we ate for breakfast, or how our keys ended up in the laundry basket. But no, it isn’t. Gen X are more focused on work-life balance because we were often latch-key kids. Though sometimes accused of being lazy and cynical, Gen X is entrepreneurial, and one of the last generations free of student loans. Wow! That description is definitely me. Could I balance the lines among these three generations?
My kids’ generation, Gen Z, is the first truly digitally native generation—many kids received their first phone before their eleventh birthday. Could the kids unplug from their devices long enough to have fun offline?
My plan was simple and utilized cookie decorating, eating, crafting, games, and stories to occupy our time. There is always opportunity for disaster, but I worried for nothing. All seven of us walked away with fond memories and plans to have another multi-generational weekend.
Our success came from connecting the generations through stories. We took turns telling our favorite childhood memories. My Gen Z kids and their significant others loved hearing their Silent Gen grandfather tell of times without a television, toys that didn’t plug in, and eating food grown out of a garden or raised in a barn. Truth be told, so did I. Dad, John, and I loved hearing what the kids’ favorite memories were too.
But we also connected through making memories. We played games made of cardboard, and the only sounds came out of our mouths. I’d brought some scrapbooks, and all generations poured through them. I’d forgotten how tiny my Gen Z boys had been, and they’d forgotten how, uh, well, different their Gen X parents used to look. Our weekend became more about finding our common interests and less about recognizing our differences.
The best part was that as the weekend unfolded, I saw less and less Gen Z reaching for phones. Instead, they reached for games or snacks or scrapbooks. As usual, I took a load of photos, but this time it was different. This time my kids asked for a scrapbook of the weekend. Of course, this happy Gen X mama got right on that. My hope is my Gen Alpha grandkids (or whatever generation they are) pour over at the old scrapbooks—and hopefully the multitude of albums to come as we continue our multi-generation weekends.
Note: source for generations came from www.parade.com/1113130/jessicasager/generation-names-and-years/
Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1989. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org