While conducting research for the book I’m writing with Jeff Fromm (so close to the finish line I can taste it!), I devoured as many books, studies and articles about Gen Z I could get my hands on! In one of my favorite books, the Gen Z Effect, the authors talked about Gen Z having real respect for their elders — that they’re the first generation to break down generational barriers.
And not just with their parents, with their grandparents as well. Some attribute this to the growth of households with more than two generations living under one roof. Others say it’s because Gen Z have more in common with their grandparents and great-grandparents than Millennials — that they’re “old souls in young bodies,” as we like to say at Barkley. Another reason could be more kids and teens are being raised by their grandparents than ever before.
Whatever the reason, the bond and mutually respectful relationship between so many Gen Z’s and their grandparents is an amazing thing to witness. I was close to my grandparents growing up, and I certainly respected them and loved hearing them tell stories, I don’t know that I would have elected to go on a 10-day vacation alone with one of them!
However, that’s exactly what Sammy is doing right now. He and his “Nana” Sara, his paternal grandmother, are on a 10-day land-and-sea adventure in Alaska.
I love them both dearly, but to be completely honest, I’ve been a bit worried about how this trip would go ever since Sara offered Sammy the choice for his high school graduation present: a trip, or the equivalent in cash. Sammy chose the trip! (I’d venture to guess, 28 years ago, a younger Angie would have chosen door #2: show me the money.) But not Sammy. He made the commitment a year ago, and he’s been excited about it ever since! (even passing up the chance to play in the Kansas vs. Missouri football game of graduating seniors).
Let me paint a picture here. Sammy is an 18-year-old boy. Sara is a 69-year-old woman. While not an ‘introvert’ exactly, Sammy spends a lot of time alone, playing video games or … whatever else he does. He’s a fairly quiet kid. Sara, on the other hand, is the epitome of an extrovert. The woman is the Energizer bunny; she has no “off” switch. I mean, come on, she’s even a Zumba instructor! Needless to say, I’ve been nervous about these two traveling together, alone, for 10 straight days.
And the jury’s still out on how it will all shake out. They might be sick of each other by the time the trip is over. Most of us would be sick of another human being after that long together without a buffer.
But three days in, all signs point to a positive experience for both of them so far. The report back from Sara is that “Sammy is such a caring person!” Sammy says his Nana “stops every 10 seconds for pictures, but other than that, the trip has been great so far!” And the pictures of them together, smiling ear-to-ear, are priceless!
My point is, this is just so … cool! A Boomer grandmother and Gen Z grandson on a travel adventure together that surely will generate memories for a lifetime! It’s an amazing opportunity for them to bond and discover what’s great about each of them, and both generations. I can’t wait for the stories!
I always write about how much I love Gen Z – this generation of incredibly smart, hard-working, fearless young people, poised to change the world in incredible ways. But one of the things I love the most is their openness to learn about other people, cultures and traditions. Their ability to truly connect with people (despite popular belief, they are probably the most connected generation in history, thanks to social media) And their love of great storytelling. And who better to fuel this love than the best storytellers of all: their grandparents?!
If you have similar stories to share, I’d love to hear them!