What Gen-X Mothers Can Tell Us About Gen-Z Moms

Many elements contribute to defining future generations, from world events to economic climate and technological advances.

However, one of the greatest factors to influence women of any generation are their mothers.

As marketers welcome Gen Z as consumers, it is beneficial to dust off their knowledge of the Gen-X mom to uncover the behaviors of their daughters.

The parenting style of the Gen-X mom was in some ways shaped by the baby boomer mother, who make up the cohort that raised today’s millennials. Boomer mothers were known as helicopter parents because of their constant doting over the children.  The result of their overinvolvement has been attributed to the attention-seeking, entitled perception of millennials.  

Helicopter parenting ultimately got such a bad rap among the media, educators, and child specialists that the Gen-X moms who followed took a different parenting approach. Gen-X moms decided to raise their Gen Z children with what is called a free-range parenting style. The result of being given the opportunity to learn and act on their own created a generation of independent, confident, solution-oriented Gen-Z adults.  Together with the emergence of technology, the Gen-Z mom knows how to find information to solve everyday challenges.



The Gen-Z mom’s attitude about money has been largely impacted by watching her mother during her childhood as she struggled financially through the recession of 2009.  To stretch her dollar, she clipped coupons, stockpiled buy-one, get-one-free items, and opened Etsy stores to generate extra income.  

Since more than half of Gen-X mothers were single by choice, the financial struggles some of these Gen Z children witnessed were quite difficult.  They watched as large established companies shut their doors and laid off loyal employees, and many experienced the loss of their childhood home. 

Today, we see Gen-Z moms coming into motherhood with the belief that they must work hard to obtain the things they desire to have and give their children.  Unlike the millennial 20something population that moved home after college, the Gen Zer is eager and anxious to work.  She is likely to have a side gig with apps like Uber, Shipt, or Lyft or sell old clothes on Poshmark or Facebook to generate extra income.

Gen-Z moms enjoy their relationship with their mother.  The free-range parenting style helped to cultivate an attitude of mentor rather than dictator or educator.   The result produced a generation that seeks advice from their mothers on everything from food brands to clothing styles. This helps to explain the recent popularity of “mom jeans” and ‘80s retro shirts. For vintage brands, the Gen-Z mom presents renewed opportunities to grow the bottom line by recognizing her appreciation for her Gen-X mother.

The Gen-X mom may have helped marketers coin the term “frugalista” and “extreme couponer,” but she raised a  population of Gen-Z moms who will be spending upwards of $5 trillion dollars a year in the U.S.economy.  

As marketers, the time is now to prepare for this powerful household consumer.  Understanding the people and events that shaped her values and beliefs will go a long way toward connecting with her in a relevant and meaningful manner.  I suggest that the first stop in understanding the Gen-Z mom is to refresh your knowledge of the Gen-X mother who raised her.

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