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What We Have
Learned from
One Another
s we continue to adjust to the COVID-19 era, we all want to
look forward to better days, better times.
You may also be looking back, reflecting on lessons learned during
the past 18+ months. And perhaps thinking about how each
generation has handled the pandemic in different ways.
Like millions, I have experienced that up close and personal.
When our son Luke was born in 2005, my husband Frank and I
thought about the normal milestones of Luke growing up - and
up until 2019, they came as expected.
Then 2020 scrapped the " transition to adulthood " playbook we
had followed.
And while we took heart in the countless articles about how the
pandemic would help define his generation, it sure wasn't the
teenage existence we envisioned for this smack-in-the-middle Gen
Z kid.
For Luke's age cohort, the COVID-19 pandemic really is a
generation-shaping event, much as the 2008 financial crisis and
Great Recession were for Millennials. From school shutdowns
and quarantines, to social distancing and high unemployment,
Gen Zers like Luke are coming of age smack in the middle of
cataclysmic change.
So, how would I help him navigate it - when I had a completely
different perspective?
Sure, I liked knowing the " experts " thought this Gen Xer could
handle this once-in-a-century health crisis well, thanks to coming
of age during - among other things - the Cold War, social
upheaval, and John Hughes movies.
Being the child of an amazing single mom who taught me the
meaning of grit and resilience was going to pay off, I hoped. But
14 Women2Women | Fall 2021
was I up for the challenge? (For the purposes of this article, we'll
leave out Luke's dad, my husband Frank - a Baby Boomer through
and through.)
Let's get back to the research - which is clear: There are key
differences in how different generations reacted to COVID-19.
And although no one knows for sure what the long-term
consequences of the pandemic will be, experts predict it will have
a lasting impact on people of all generations. While certain age
groups may be less vulnerable to the health effects of COVID-19,
no group has zero chance of contracting COVID-19, and the
global pandemic affects everyone of all ages and all walks of life.
While we're talking about generations, a reminder of the
generational breakdown:
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964
Generation X: 1965-1979
Gen Z:
Back to the 16.5-year-old adolescent and his Generation X mom.
As COVID-19 hit, there was the suggestion that Gen X adults
are perhaps the most prepared to cope with the isolation of social
distancing and quarantine. Known as the " latchkey generation, "
Gen Xers learned to occupy themselves in the hours after school
before their parents got home from work.
True enough, the initial COVID quarantine wasn't a total shock
to my system - being inside a lot is something I'm used to. But
while I adapted to not reporting to the office, I focused a lot on
how Luke was taking being out of school due to closures. Juggling
my work responsibilities - I had just started a new job in January
2020 - while helping him with distance education was a challenge,
to say the least.


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