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Episode 85: What is the ‘I Don’t Know’ Generation

Brief summary of show:

What is the ‘I don’t know’ generation?

When you ask your kid a question, are you often met with a cold shoulder and ‘I don’t know’?

In today’s day and age, conversations are often met with this roadblock, but why is that? What’s the reason behind why our kids just simply don’t know?

We get into it in this week’s episode.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [1:30] What the ‘I don’t know’ generation is

  • [4:00] The hidden messages behind ‘I don’t know’

  • [5:00] Modeling self-reflection and learning

  • [5:55] The impact we’ve had to our anxiety

  • [10:00] How to help our kids when they’re overwhelmed

Notes from Natalie:

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View Transcript for this Episode

[00:00:00] Natalie: Hi everyone, it's Natalie. Hope you're having a great week. It's cold here in Colorado. We've actually already had our first snow, if you can believe it.

[00:00:07] I can't. I'm missing the beach right now. Hoping to get there soon. In today's podcast, a. I wanna talk about what I call the I D K generation. I'm a mom of three, and after a long career in television news, I started this podcast and I'm running my website and I'm teaching. I work with high school kids teaching journalism and new media as I like to call it.

[00:00:31] Journalism isn't what it used to be. So what I teach now, Is ways to tell stories that are effective and that people enjoy watching. This is my second year in the classroom and I think I learn from the kids just as much as they learn from me. So as a mom and as a person who spends a lot of time talking about self-development and parenting and self-motivation, I think a lot about what motivates us and what's happening with kids today, specifically with teenagers and young adults.

[00:01:01] One thing I've.

[00:01:02] And I've actually been extremely frustrated by lately. Is this when I said IDK at the beginning of the podcast? Maybe you know, and maybe you don't. But what that stands for is, I don't know, Id k. I call it the IDK attitude, and again, totally frustrated by this. It seems like the most simple of questions often gets an answer of, I don't know, or a text response of idk.

[00:01:32] To me, it feels very lazy. For example, if I ask my kids, Do you know where your socks are? And instead of helping or going to look for the socks, I get the answer of, I don't know. Or maybe I ask my students in the classroom, what's the best way to tell a story? And I get, I don't know. Or maybe I text someone, Can you help me with x, Y?

[00:01:52] And. And what I get is a response of ID k. What I really want from all of these situations is an answer more like, I'm not really sure, but I'll find out or let me work on that. My intention in today's episode was to talk about the laziness behind IDK as a parenting topic, as I started to put this episode together, I came to a realization and I wanna share that with you today. It might actually be a little bit controversial, so hear me out. Maybe the ID k generation is trying to tell us something. Before I get started, it would mean so much to me if you would just take a minute to hit the subscribe button wherever you are listening to the podcast, and also share this episode with a friend if you would.

[00:02:35] I strongly believe that learning and growing, it's making all of us better parents, better partners, better humans. We are learning so much about what motivates people and what brings them down since the pandemic. You know, I talk a lot about resiliency and determination here on this podcast, and you can go into the show notes where I have linked a few of those episodes.

[00:02:58] They are. Excellent resources for getting through hard times. Life is hard. You absolutely will have times where you're kicked in the butt and you need to find strength. It is easier to say to a boss, a friend, a partner, whomever. I don't know, but to say, Let me find out, that's a sign of resiliency.

[00:03:19] That is a sign of commitment. When I started to dig into my frustration with this, I don't know, response, I realized that it's sometimes not just someone being lazy. There really could be hidden meanings behind, I don't know, or idk. First of all, let's just address what it feels like. It feels like defiance, like someone is responding with.

[00:03:43] Leave me alone. Don't ask anything of me. But it could be that person. Is looking for control and there could be much more behind that. Could be that they need more time to think. I've been there, haven't you? I've felt overwhelmed and it feels like today in our day and age, with so much going on with mental health issues that we're dealing with, overwhelm is very common.

[00:04:10] The need to feel control is very, very normal. Someone demanding an answer to a question that I might not be prepared for, can send anyone into a place where they simply shut down. It's okay to say, Can I have some time to think about that, or, I'm not sure, but can I get back to you on that?

[00:04:30] In everything I'm talking about today, I'm saying it of course, from a place of self-awareness as a parent, as a mom, as a teacher, if we want to lead the next generation, we have to model these moments of self-reflection and learning. And that includes our own insecurities and our own self-development. So even though I'm talking about the, I don't know, and the idk that kids often, Maybe we need to model this more often.

[00:04:57] Maybe when we feel attacked or overwhelmed or when someone comes to us, even our kids with a question that we are modeling that. I'm not really sure about that, but I wanna find out. So just give me a little bit of time so that then when they give us this response, we can go back with, Remember when I responded that way, a day ago or earlier today?

[00:05:19] Let's work on doing that and being able to admit when we're feeling insecure about something.

[00:05:25] So the pandemic, it did a number on us. It did a lot of damage. And although we know some of that, I'm starting to see more of that as a teacher. When a person's anxiety goes up, their functioning skills go way down, they plummet.

[00:05:42] I see more kids today very easily overwhelmed. IDK is a natural response. When someone feels overwhelmed, saying, I don't know, can mean, can you leave me alone? Or, I've reached my limit and I need help. Defense mechanisms activate quickly and sometimes it's. Simple, like, did you turn in that assignment? Or , this is what happens in my house.

[00:06:07] What do you want for dinner? And I get, I don't know. I'm like, That was a really easy, very easy, and I'm trying to give you control by letting you choose what we have for dinner. But when someone's overwhelmed, the simplest of decisions can feel like a massive weight.

[00:06:24] If you notice the amount of, I don't knows, increasing around you, try to eliminate decision mode and just stop and listen and spend time with that person. Think of ways you can build their confidence so that easy decisions, or sometimes even more complex decisions aren't so difficult.

[00:06:45] Okay, so here's another possible thing to consider the fear of failure.

[00:06:49] Is a big one for kids and frankly this is a big one for adults too. Fear of not accomplishing keeps so many from actually doing and often is why we see a response that can seem uncharacteristic or even knee-jerk. The fear of failure can cause anyone to go into that defense mode and act like they don't know something when in fact we know they do.

[00:07:12] Let me give you another example. You ask your 10 year. What's six plus four? You know, they have the answer. You know, they have basic math facts, but you get a response of, I don't know, we might get an answer of, I don't know, instead of even the effort of doing the math or answering the question because the thought of getting it wrong or not getting it quickly enough is just too much.

[00:07:36] My suggestion is to not put that pressure on a kid who might have a fear of failure.

[00:07:42] All of us need time to process thoughts and our answers. I think what I really wanna get across in today's podcast is that we live in strange times as moms, as working women as ever evolving humans. Getting to the root of feelings is more important than ever, and that means looking past the answer of ID k and finding out what's really going on.

[00:08:06] Could it be that your kids are trying to say to you something more? I simply don't want to be at my core. That thing that you want me to be that star athlete or that star scholar, all of those things that you're pushing me to be, or are they saying, Please don't be mad at me for a mistake I made, or I need more time, or, Here's a really big one.

[00:08:29] I'm. I'd like to suggest that when these problems arise, we prepare ourselves with some responses. First of all, saying it's okay to not always have answers, but it's not okay to stop trying. I've certainly learned the importance of staying calm, or at least I'm aware and I'm trying to learn that every single day.

[00:08:50] Am I frustrated when my now 13 year old yells out? I don't know. When I ask him something really simple like, Get your shoes, or Do you know where your shoes are before school and we're late. Heck yeah, But sometimes being late means natural consequences from the school.

[00:09:05] This happened to us recently, and it's not me saying, Hurry, hurry, hurry. It's the natural consequence that motivates him to actually accomplish and do those things without me having to always ask, wear are your shoes, and getting a. I don't know, response. Most of all, stay calm. Talking about this later in the day when the frustration isn't so high is always a better idea.

[00:09:30] As I wrap up, I don't know. Doesn't always mean your child doesn't wanna talk to you or give you an answer. It certainly doesn't mean that they don't love you. It might mean they need help with something more complicated in their life.

[00:09:43] When you get, I don't know, try rephrasing your question. I'm gonna give you a couple of ways to do that. But remember, I want you to do that in a really calm way. Try what part do you not know, or what part do you know? Or what would be your best guess? You might get more than you hoped for with just a little bit of pry.

[00:10:03] You might also try, How can I help you right now? Or can I support you without doing the work for you? Most importantly, let's look beyond the ID k instead of being frustrated by it. I hope this was helpful for you. Please reach out with topics you'd like to hear more about. I'm so grateful for you and I'll talk to you again next.

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