This week I have been mocked and ruthlessly roasted by a bunch of cool, finger on the pulse of pop culture, all-about-the-bants, Generation Z’ers. Just by the very fact that I am describing them as Generation Z’ers deserves a roasting I guess but I don’t understand why the unnecessary mockery. I’m a so called Millennial; I’m cool, I’m current, I’m what marketeers and employers are after, right?
For those that don’t understand anything I have just said, Generation Z are the new, well, generation. If you are between 0 and roughly 23 then you can stake claim to this title. Nobody actually knows for sure who falls into what generations as there are so many theories and overlaps but Gen-Z are the new target market for advertisers; they are the new gauge of what’s current and the marker for future trends. In this respect, we Millennials are now the has-beens.
I refuse to believe I am out of touch, so imagine my horror as I was mercilessly laughed at when I came to work and asked my team if anyone watched Portrait Artist of the Year this week. I should have known better as 80% of the people I manage fall in the early 20s category, but it was a very interesting show!
This was the moment when my ‘family man’ image was very clearly explained to me by the intern in such an eloquent, Gen-Z way: ‘ugh, you’re such a grandad, I bet you wear crocs and socks’. I know I’m a family man but I’ve never had anyone suggest that because of it, I’m not relevant.
My transition from cool millennial to cool ‘family man’ has been a clear and speedy journey and I’m not in any way ashamed of it.
Just before Jovan was born I needed to choose a new car, so of course you start to think about space, safety, practicality. Thats a given with all the excitement of the new role. So as we were having a baby, ONE baby, I absolutely ordered a huge 4×4 with 7 seats and all the gadgets and safety features you could possibly wish for. The most important job done. I didnt need it, I couldnt really afford it but I had to have it. Do you think that when it was time for mum and baby to come home from hospital that I was going to make the 3 minute drive around the corner with my precious, delicate, new born son in anything but this? It was an obvious and sensitively considered decision.
This was my first clear, but not necessarily conscious step in the ‘family man’ transition. Since then, like most good husbands and fathers, my little family take up about 90% of who I am (I reserve 10% for when I want to do something my wife will disapprove of, like shark diving).
Family Man transition markers, like buying an unnecessary car, are now littered through my life. Last week when I arrived at a meeting after dropping Jovan off at preschool I casually pulled a Minion on a motorbike out of my pocket at the same time as my phone. Which was actually surprisingly easy to explain.
I used to look forward to the summer because it meant freedom, long days and BBQs. Now I look forward to summer because we can save some money on heating, I can wake up early on a Saturday morning to cut the grass and it takes less time to get to work because the schools are out.
These days I self edit my response when someone asks “Any plans for the weekend?” so I don’t bore the boobies off the poor soul who dared to ask while I talk about kids’ parties, swimming lessons, messy play and outdoor activities. Similarly when they make the same mistake of asking “How was the weekend?” on a Monday morning.
I don’t know what I expect of my wife anymore when she wants to get hold of me during the day, because if I see my phone ringing I immediately panic and expect the worst and wait for the line ‘just calling to say hi’. The absolute audacity of the woman to call to see how I am without texting first to tell me she is going to call to see how I am. Who does that?
Anyone with small children will know 2 tiny humans come with a truck load of stuff, but one of the many secret perks of ‘family man’ is that I always have a genuine excuse for not being used as a taxi! I have a monster sized car seat and isofix base in the back. Sorry.
One of the setbacks is that I sacrifice storage on my phone to have 62.4 billion pics of my children doing everyday, mundane, human things. If anyone ever asks me if I have any pics of my kids, I’ll spend hours scrolling through while they watch over my shoulder, patiently waiting until I narrow it down to 12 or 13 of pretty much the exact same picture to show them.
Any Attenborough production is high up on my agenda these days and “have you moved my toolbox love?” slides off my tongue without a second thought. Two very clear staples of the family man makeup.
I’m not sure if anyone sets out with the goal of adopting a family man image but far from wearing crocs and socks, a style choice I choose not to adopt, I am all for this new me. Despite what my 20 something direct reports have to say, I am cool, I am relevant, I am what marketeers want and I do set trends, just in a very Dad/Husband/family man kind of way. So what if I’m not in the ‘Gen-Z’ crew? Portrait Artist of the Year is a good show!
Forget hanging out at Soho Farmhouse or The Ned, If you cant take a bath without getting an action figure, lego or duck stuck up your arse then maybe you are a candidate for this far more exclusive, ultra trendy club too. The FM club. Thats the Family Man club if anyone is struggling with the acronym.
Instagram: @this_father_life – see you there!
Love and Blessings,