Generation Z

generation zMy Generation Z children are home from college for the holidays. We’ve had some good conversations about life when I was in college compared to their life now. Many things have changed. While they are lamenting the slow Wi-Fi on campus, I told them how I bought a 40MB internal hard drive for my 286 computer to run the statistics program for my thesis.

Next year will be a busy year for our family. My husband and I will be moving wherever the military sends us. The oldest will be finishing college and moving to wherever a new job takes her. The youngest will be moving out of the dorm and into her own small apartment. While talking about all of these moves, we got into a discussion about stuff, uncluttering, and what the Generation Z wants and doesn’t want.

Here are highlights of our conversations.

Home-ownership may not be a goal. The 3,000 square foot home with a 30-year mortgage may be a ball-and-chain for some Gen-Zers. Many want small, low-maintenance apartments or condos and would rather spend money on travel and adventure experiences. These kids have seen their parents spend holidays and weekends doing home renovations and believe that mowing the lawn is a “soul-crushing timesuck.”

Make it digital. Gen-Zers have no use for DVDs and CDs. They use streaming services like Amazon Video. They might want hard copies of select reference books or storybooks they read as children, but they would rather use a Kindle e-reader for everything else. An ideal holiday/birthday/wedding gift would be digital copies of home movies and family photos.

Less housework is better. Dusting and polishing silver takes effort, but Gen-Zers will do the work if they value and can use the items. They have no use for the figurines and silver-plated coin-banks I received for them at baby showers. Nor are they interested in Grandma’s good china that is neither microwave nor dishwasher-safe. However, they would value one or two serving pieces like the sugar bowl/creamer set, the gravy boat, or serving platters.

Only ‘my’ memorabilia. Gen-Zers have no use for the lobster trap their parents brought home from New England or the sequined sombreros from Mexico. They will keep items that are significant to them or that have important family history such as military medals, specific jewellery pieces, and artwork.

Functional furniture. Large antique dressers with drawers that don’t open easily and oversized sectionals do not fit into the Gen-Zers lifestyle. They want smaller-scale, furniture that can serve more than one purpose such as end tables with storage and ottomans that double as filing cabinets.

What does this all mean for the parents of Generation Z? Keep things because you love them and want them. If you are not enjoying certain things, ask your children if they want them now or will want them in the future (assuming they are old enough to make those decisions). If the children are able to take the items now, let them go. If not, make sure your final wishes are clear to avoid family disputes.

If you are in the Generation Z cohort or have Generation Z children, chime in with your opinions in the comments.

8 Comments for “Generation Z”

  1. posted by Katey on

    I think the “what does all this mean” part is good for parents of any generation. I’m generation X myself, and I agree with a lot of the Generation Z sentiments here. Less is better. I’ve already had to deal with the estates of relatives who have passed or downsized, and it’s so difficult. I’m dealing with this early, for my own stuff, so my children won’t have to go through all that.

  2. posted by Dana on

    I’m on the leading edge of the “millennial” generation myself (b.1981), and I can’t think of more than a dozen small items in my Boomer parents’ house that I would want to keep. By all means, have a house full of things that bring you joy, but definitely do not expect that your children will want them 🙂

    (Side note re: home ownership – for many of us, property prices are so far beyond what we can manage with our yearly take-home pay that it’s not a matter of not *wanting* to own, it’s a matter of the costs being so unfeasible that the whole concept is best left unconsidered.)

  3. posted by RandylJ on

    I’m a septuagenarian (2019), “Baby Boomer” generation and full time RV traveler since 2006. With my parents’ generation of ‘snowbird’ RV travelers passing on, I now see my generation experiencing higher RV park rents, struggling to maintain older RV’s and while staying long-term to save gas expenses. Meanwhile, a tidal wave of Millennials and younger generations, are opting to live full-time on wheels of varying design and comfort level, according to affordability. They are creating new mobile lifestyles, often opting to drive more, see more parks, boondock, and even winter camp. My little 32 feet of motorhome is a wonderful efficiency apartment and I still have too much ‘clutter’ that my ‘children’ now approaching their ‘40’s’, will never want or need. I am looking at Class B type vans and little teardrop trailers. Less is definitely more and when my husband passed on, the “You Can’t Take it With You” became instantly clear!

  4. posted by G. on

    It’s not necessarily just Generation Z that’s not wanting the family “treasures”. I’m Baby Boomer era, and when going through items left by Mom & Dad, if I didn’t have memories (under threat of death if we broke the curved glass in the oak secretary Mom was refinishing for Grandma) or something I really liked (the yellow ware bowl with blue stripes, not the one with brown stripes), most went to the auction. Most of the treasures that were from grandparents & great-grandparents were packed away and never seen. Once I started asking myself if I’d buy an item in an antique store, the deciding got easier.

  5. posted by Monica on

    I’m a millennial and I agree with Dana. All of this speaks to me except I would love to own property (even a condo!) and will never be able to afford one.

  6. posted by Bill on

    I’m also a baby boomer who have seen my parents and in-laws pass on. Luckily, my parents never had anything but cheap, disposable furniture….most went in the trash, or were donated. They had very worn possessions and clothing…quantity, not quality. I kept what would fill a grocery bag: mostly WWII memorabilia and photos albums. My in-laws left similar stuff….I cringed when my wife wanted to keep their piano….these folks never threw anything away, and we discarded hundreds of pounds of worn-out junk, gross old mattresses, expired medicines, clothes that reek of cigarettes and items stained by same. We are still trying to figure what to do with large sofas, 1970’s dining room set and china cabinet, etc…nobody seems to want. I and others in the family have their own decorator tastes or have homes already crammed with “stuff.” I’m 60 and have to worry about downsizing eventually and have little storage space anyway and no kids in the mix to deal with my “treasures,” so I have to try my best to keep my “stuff” from being a burden.

  7. posted by Charlee on

    This applies to Boomers too – I was born in 1960, which is at the very end of that era. I have a ton of “guilt furniture” and other assorted good quality stuff I don’t want. 2+ sets of great-grandmother china, grandparent highball glasses – you get the idea. I’ve been culling quietly. I offer things to my daughter. If she doesn’t want them, I sell, donate, or toss. The guilt part is from my mom, who is a diagnosable hoarder.

  8. posted by Caroline on

    I was born in 1980 and I agree with this. I’m trying to get rid of clutter, not add to it.

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