Tomorrow's Children

Tomorrow's Children

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

Do children change from one generation to the next? Children born from 1900-1945 are traditionalist— they grew up around rotary phones. Baby Boomers born from 1946-1964 were the touch-tone phone generation. Generation X from 1965 to 1980, used beepers and pagers. Millennials born between 1981 and 2000, saw the transition from previous technologies into Internet-based functions including surfing the web on their flip phones and receiving messages rapidly via e-mail. Today, Generation Z doesn’t know of an existence without social media, smartphones, and food delivery apps right at their fingertips.

From Lawrence Welk, Liberace, Elvis, The Beatles, Earth Wind and Fire to Beyonce, each generation has its own music, likes, and dislikes. Hobbies, values, fads, and fashion, society continues to shift. Regardless of your generation, we are all living together on this one planet.

“Where you were then, is who you are now,” states theologian John Bradshaw. In other words, you are a product of the time you were born, and where you were born. Do you think the social profiles of children of different time periods are discernable? Some research states children are not the same because values vary with the values of society and the period of time. Traits of people born after World War II would not be so important today. After the war, American and Europeans described a child’s growth as motivated by affectionate ties to others. Regardless of the era in which a child is born, children must learn to control two sets of emotions: anxiety, fear, and guilt, and then; anger, jealousy, and resentment.

In his book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw describes Americans who came of age during The Great Depression and World War II as “a generation united by common values — duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and, above all, responsibility for oneself.” Living a life in tune with your values is important because it is what determines what means most to you. Everyone seeks to achieve certain goals in life, and ideally, his or her values are in tune with these goals.

According to Jim Taylor Ph.D., a specialist in the psychology of sport and parenting and is a Psychology Today contributor, introducing children to healthy values like honesty, work ethic, love of sport, respect of others, etc., might serve them well. Furthermore, Taylor argues that healthy values and the identification of unhealthy values can be taught through sports.

Furthermore, licensed child clinical psychologist Dr. Kate Roberts said it is important, now more than ever, for parents to parent with confidence, authority and a strong sense of traditional American values as children today are “instead occupied with superficial materialism and unrealistic reality TV’ and unequipped with the life skills necessary to navigate a complex and competitive working world.

There is a close relationship between the type of parenting style and children’s behavior. Basically, there are three primary parenting styles: authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, and permissive parenting. “In the U.S., roughly 46% of parents use authoritative parenting style, 26% authoritarian parenting style, 18% permissive parenting style, and 10% neglectful parenting style,” Dr. Diana Baumrind said. She argues the authoritarian parent is “rigid, harsh, and demanding” and often abusive parents fall in this category. The permissive parent, Baumrind continues, is low demand/high responsiveness and “is overly responsive to the child’s demands, seldom enforcing consistent rules” leading to the raising of the “spoiled child.” The authoritative parent, according to Baumrind, is firm but not rigid, but flexible enough to make exceptions depending on the situation while being “responsive to the child’s needs but not indulgent.”

Regardless of the generations, every child develops at a different pace and in response to their environment. It is a complex process both physically and psychologically. Psychological growth develops from total emotional dependence on parents to self-awareness as a separate individual. Children need clear social and personal boundaries. Are emotions learned or biologically predetermined [nature or nurture]? It’s been my experience when families discuss feelings, children easily develop empathy. Parents who set behavioral limits and establish boundaries while having positive regard for others are more likely to produce empathic children.


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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