Gen Z is now Gen C. Social scientists are using the term to describe the youngest children who are growing up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Generation C, the thinking goes, will be forever marked because of how the crisis is shaping their formative years.
It’s a heavy label with a lot of uncertainty. But as the mother of two Gen C-ers, I’m not without hope. When my fears start to mount about what effect the pandemic might have on their futures, I remember that technically our daughters are parented by a pampered Millennial and a slacker Gen X-er. Their grandparents are all members of the “Me” generation. Labels can be scary, but they’re not irredeemable.
Gen C has seen a year’s worth of plans put on hold. They endured months of not seeing close family and friends, and more interruptions to “normal” life than they can count. As a result, their generation may well be marked by more resilience than the last two or three. They have had more opportunities already to see the reality of Christ’s words in John 16:33. In this world we will have trouble, Jesus says, followed by a promise for the ages: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
My children have also seen the church at work. They’ve witnessed the adults in their lives band together to help hurting people. They watched videos of worship teams lifting up anthems of praise over Zoom. They saw faithful people make sacrifices for the sake of others, even when their own circumstances were uncertain. Their idea of “church” is likely different than mine was at their age, but also closer to the New Testament model.
Would I choose the circumstances of the last year for my Gen C-ers? No. There are days I long for the normalcy of their 2019 lives. I worry when I see them hesitate to hug their friends. I want them to go back to Sunday school.
I’m also proud of how they’ve responded to the challenges, dutifully pulling on their masks in the morning and wordlessly holding out their hands at the playground for a pump of sanitizer.
When the label seems too big and too frightening for how small they currently are, I can stand firm in the hope that ‘Generation C’ may have shaped their beginning, but it won’t have the last word.
Meredith Day Flynn is a wife and mother of two living in Springfield. She writes on the intersection of faith, family, and current culture.