I’ve got three teens under my roof and therefore a front-row seat to Gen Z. I have to be in the know to keep up with them. Sure, my life would be easier if they communicated and lived the same way all me and my Gen X friends do, but that’s not going to happen. Like ever. And if you ask me, that’s a good thing.
I realize Gen Z gets get talked about in the media like they’re these weird and chaotic space aliens who came from Planet TikTok who wear the 80s and 90s band T-shirts even though they’ve never heard the music. Just like the generations before them — millennials got rid of formal dress codes and Gen X stopped putting stamps on things and mailing them — it’s their turn to knock some things off. And so, here’s an incomplete list of things I’ve found Gen Z has decided to get rid of. Why? Don’t ask me. I just live with these people and I’m learning as I go.
I adore flat sheets, so this has been a hard one to wrap my head around. I like the way they look and feel, and honestly, I don’t feel complete knowing my body isn’t being covered by a sheet and a comforter.
None of my kids use flat sheets. Two out of the three think fitted sheets are pointless too. They prefer to roll around like a cocoon in a blanket. They’ve told me that flat sheets “are dumb and a waste of time,” which explained why I always find them wadded up on their bedroom floor. Oh well, less laundry!
Saying “Hello” and “Good-Bye”
When my kids got their phones, I’d call them only to be greeted by dead silence. Upon picking up the phone, they wouldn’t say “hello.” It was very confusing to me so I’d be the first to say it, just to make sure someone was on the other end. Then, I noticed I’d say, “I love you, goodbye,” only to hear a click. No response. No “I love you too,” and I never, ever get a “goodbye.” According to teens, you don’t say those words anymore because, again, it’s a waste of their precious time.
If you call someone, you don’t need to bother with those formalities any longer. Just dive right into what you want to tell them, then hang up in their face! Time-saving tip for sure.
There is no need to wear actual pants when there are so many pajama bottoms to choose from. If we are going out to lunch, my kids wear pajamas. Are you doing some shopping? Pajamas it is.
Word on the street is they don’t believe in fairy tale endings or living happily ever after as hard as Gen Xers did. They believe in partnerships and living with someone. But they don’t see the need to have a binding contract. Many of the teenagers I’ve talked with believe in giving themselves a happily ever after regardless of whether they are with someone. They say that ‘finding your person” doesn’t determine your worth, and that being happy has more to do with finding your purpose through your career, passions, and taking care of yourself, which of course is true!
I love this sentiment for my kids. It has taken me over 40 years to get to this same mindset. I agree with this one, even if I think they’re wild for the top sheet thing.
I often voice text and leave a voice email like a lot of other moms trying to keep ten plates spinning at once. I also use punctuation when I do. And I’ve noticed my kids snickering every time they hear me talk into my phone and say something like, “Have a great day exclamation point!” They also send me TikToks of teens pretending to be their parents as they talk into their phones, sending voice notes and adding punctuation. Take note: Gen Zers have denounced punctuation, especially in a text message.
Another thing that’s not necessary are capital letters, apparently. And honestly, put another one up on the board for Gen Z: It’s freeing to send a text without all that jazz.
Food and Cosmetics Containing Chemicals Or Tested By Animals
Teens are environmentally conscious and I love it. My daughter has taught me a lot about what I’m putting on my skin and hair and how bad something can be for myself and the environment. Teens use an app called Yuka, which rates foods and cosmetics. All you do is scan the barcode on a product and it allows you to see the health impacts of things like deodorant or a candy bar. If they discover a product is being tested on animals, they won’t purchase it or film themselves throwing it in the trash via TikTok to alert everyone to stop buying it.
Spelling Out Full Words
It’s all about acronyms or abbreviations. If your teen has sent you a text and you don’t know what “tbf tl;dr” means, don’t ask them. Google it because since they don’t have the time to use punctuation or capital letters they aren’t going to tell you.
The moral of the story is this: As parents, we don’t always know more than our children do. In fact, my kids have taught me more about life and what’s really important than anyone else has. Gen Z has a lot to say (and not to say), and I’m here for it.
That top sheet is staying, though.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.