children. ‘They disapprove of smoking and drinking – but also they’ve read about child labour and decided they don’t want new clothes. My partner loves fashion and often shops online, but when the boxes arrive our daughter will question her about it: “More new clothes!?” My partner gets such a hard time over it that she’s become secretive about her buying.
‘They’re also news savvy and they’ll tell me off about all the plastic packaging on food. They read all the ingredients in the supermarket – the youngest won’t eat custard because it’s got palm oil in it which is affecting orangutans. He won’t have Tunnock’s caramel wafers, which I love, because they’ve also got palm oil in them.’
How Clean is Your House star Aggie MacKenzie, 63, was ‘banned’ from buying a pumpkin this Halloween by her 23-year-old son Ewan as it would be left outside to rot. ‘He told me that an estimated eight million of them would be binned after Halloween,’ she says. ‘Yes, I was pumpkin-shamed.’
Generation Z want to challenge and overturn everything that went before and replace it with a rigid new set of rules which they enforce at every turn. If you don’t agree with them, you’re creating a hostile environment for others. Kate, 51, a publishing executive from London, says her daughter ‘always supports the underdog. She’s a fully paid up feminist, hates racism, sexism, Donald Trump and discrimination in any form.’
‘All the things we want are becoming prohibited by our children, so we have to hide,’ says Michael. ‘I imagine there’s going to be an alliance of parents meeting behind the bike sheds, smoking cigarettes, drinking gin and eating Tunnock’s wafers because their kids won’t let them.’
Where did these youngsters get their conviction from? Well, they are the first truly connected generation who don’t remember a time before the internet. They didn’t stomp off to their bedrooms and sulk when they thought something wasn’t fair; they stomped off and plugged into a hive mind of millions who decided that nothing is fair. They entered a cycle of social-media evolution, where existing beliefs are challenged and new certainties emerge as debate is shut down. It’s also where new words describing Generation Z’s reality pop up with bewildering speed, such as ‘pansexual’ which refers to attraction to other people regardless of their gender or sexuality.
What you believed yesterday, Generation Z know today to be wrong – you just don’t understand the terms they’re using to tell you how wrong you are.
Kate’s teenage daughter won’t allow any comment that she considers to be non-PC. ‘When I talked about a friend of hers being Born between 1945 and the early 60s, they grew up during postwar rationing and reconstruction, and came of age in the Swinging 60s and 70s, before benefiting from rising property prices and final-salary pensions, making them the wealthiest cohort.