I have two children who are Millennials. Consequently, I have given a great deal of thought to what this group is doing, what they represent and sometimes, the utter disdain for these young men and women.
When I hear the word millennial it often is accompanied by scorn; the words “entitled” and sometimes even “lazy.” I often walk into Starbucks and see a couple of them there. When I approached two boys in their mid-twenties, sitting there in ripped jeans and t-shirts with their laptops I asked them about themselves. Both said that they had undergraduate degrees. That they had gone away to school and were now back at home, living with Mom and Dad. They told me that they got to the coffee shop early, in order to get a seat near a plug in case they needed to charge their computer. “Do you come to the same place every day” I asked them. “No, we mix it up. We go to about three different coffee shops over a week.” When I asked them what exactly they were doing they told me that they were working on their resumes, looking for the job that they wanted.
Lindsey Pollock, an expert on Millenials, has said, “In Germany they are called Generation Maybe, a group who are highly educated, well connected and globally minded. However, they are so overwhelmed with a myriad of possibilities available to them that they commit to nothing.”
In The National Journal, Laura Hensley’s column, Growing Up Is Not That Hard to Do, she wrote, “ a 2013 Harris Interactive survey found more than two in five parents with kids aged between 18 to 35 still pay for their cellphones…” Guilty as charged. My kids are 20 and 23. My 20-year-old is a third year university student but works in the summertime as well as on campus. My 23-year-old is an Engineer, working in China for a start-up company based out of Vienna. They both have money of their own to “pay for their cellphones” but they don’t.
Here’s my theory and you’re not going to like it. According to Stats Canada, in 1976, 46.4% of moms worked outside of the home. In 2009, when the oldest of these Millennials were seventeen and the youngest were seven-years-old, that number rose to 78.5%.
I think that all of the helicopter, spoon-fed parenting was born out of guilt. Guilt that moms can’t do it all. We made sure that these kids had laptops and cellphones and a PlayStation or a Wii or whatever their little hearts desired. This led to our kids having too much access to everything that’s “out there” before they were mature enough to see it.
I recently watched a You-Tube video that placed much of the blame on technology. This generation is used to instant gratification, whether it be through a tweet, a “like” on Facebook or an Instagram comment. After all, they are the generation that got a ribbon or trophy for just participating in something other than schoolwork. A trophy for just showing up. Really? I think we, as parents are largely at fault for all of this. I watch my almost-two-year-old niece able to manipulate her mom’s phone so that she can watch a video. I met another two-and-a-half-year-old who showed me how she could do a puzzle on her dad’s phone in a drag and drop touch screen fashion.
How soon will these kids get phones of their own?
A teacher I know told me that some students as young as eight-years-old have cellphones of their own so that their parents could call them throughout the day “just to check in.” To me that spells out guilt with a capital G. Mom and Dad know that they won’t be at home when school is over so checking in with their kids assuages that guilt.
I don’t know about you but when I turned sixteen years old I got a job. After I graduated from high school I worked two summer jobs and one part-time throughout the school year so that I could pay my tuition. Still, I graduated with a huge student loan at an interest rate of 11%, which I was expected to start paying on the first of May, one month after I graduated. I didn’t even consider waiting around for my dream job. I was a receptionist for a group of builders. I worked there for nearly a year before I got the job that I really wanted.
Maybe it’s time to stop blaming these Millennnials and look towards ourselves.