Susan Gregory Thomas offers A Teacher’s Guide to Generation X Parents, who were born between 1965 and 1979, on Edutopia.
In preschool, we’re the ones anxiously arranging developmentally appropriate playdates for our Siouxsie-and-the-Banshees-T-shirt-clad three-year-olds. In kindergarten, we’re frantic that other parents’ children are starting to read cat and rat, while our Ruby and Dylan are still having trouble identifying lowercase letters. We think the gold-star system and its ilk are archaic and punitive, and we want to have a meeting to present our suggestions for alternative achievement systems.
By grade school, we’re demanding to know why the math program is not challenging enough for our child. We email our complaints about the seating chart. We openly deride the arts instruction and may rally other parents to the point of a coup d’état. By middle school, our kids have schedules and professional support staffs that resemble those of corporate lawyers. Look out, high school: We’re coming.
Gen Xers’ are “so obnoxious, self-righteous, implacable” because they were underparented, she theorizes. Half of their parents are divorced. “We were the first to be raised in record numbers in day care, and some 40 percent of us were latchkey kids.”
We’ve been taking care of ourselves since we started going to school, and we don’t trust authority figures, because they weren’t trustworthy when we were growing up. Our parents didn’t know what was going on at school, and our teachers didn’t know what was going on at home. We’re not going to let this happen to our children — not even for a second. We’ll do whatever we have to do to make sure our kids get what they need.
She has advice on how teachers can work with GenX parents, despite their unrealistic “artisanal” expectations.