I have three teenagers. I’ve also taught middle school for five years. With that exposure, I’d say I’m able to speak pretty knowledgeably about our beloved Millennial generation.
Yes, that was said with a bit of snark. But why? Why must we always portray our children’s generation with such disdain and disrespect?
When did our society stop being a relay-race, in which one educated, experienced generation patiently and supportively passes the baton to the next; and become some sadistic high-dive event in which we adults stand in superiority and push our children blindly into the unknown, hoping they’ll miraculously swim and not sink?
A Plea for Help
I know there are those who shudder to think that the title “Influencer” has somehow become something to aspire to. But only because of what some people seek to influence. In the millennial generation, vanity abounds. Self-indulgence, entitlement, and ignorance does too. But under that, I also see compassion, curiosity, and very timid pleas for help.
With the help of my Millennial daughters, I asked a number of their generation the question:
“What’s one thing you wish the older generation would teach you, show you, or help you with?”
Their answers might surprise you. They said:
- Learning how to be responsible with money (this was a common one!)
- “We get into debt easy and then freak out and try to ignore it rather than deal with it. I think the older generation is better with that…” Amaiya T*
- Advice on how to move away from home
- Knowing what career path to choose
- How to be more teachable:
- “I’m inclined to to trust their judgement & trust whatever they think we could benefit from. We probably don’t even know what we really want or what would help us most.” Joseph S*
- The importance of values and why they matter (!!!)
- How to be emotionally stronger:
- “I feel that this generation is really babied and we just don’t have the coping skills that older people do.” Ariel L*
- Share their failures and successes
- Family recipes <3
What Millennials Really Want
In addition to some less pleasant attributes, I also see a great deal of Altruism in our rising generation. Along with the need to be somebody, there is a great desire to do something of worth. What are we doing as parents, leaders, and teachers to guide this innate desire into something meaningful?
Children want the same things we want. To laugh, to be challenged, to be entertained, and delighted.”Dr. Seuss
Our children want to make a difference. They have an immeasurable body of work literally at their fingertips to show them how to pursue that goal through trivial, egocentric ways. Every week there are dozens of new brilliantly-glittering YouTube-made shooting stars hurtling through their 15-minutes of space, portraying their lives as something enviable.
Our youth is searching for direction. If the only place they can find it is online, they’ll take it! They want “advice on how to move away from home”? Take them to the grocery store and make them work their budget. They want to be “emotionally stronger”? Let them see you communicate with kindness to somebody who has “wronged” you.
Are we, the so-called “leaders” of the day, showing these aspiring stars how to Light the World and make a true difference? Or are we so quick to judge our children because we are insecure and irresponsible? Are we afraid to look in the mirror and firmly place the responsibility to guide and teach back on ourselves?
I know two things:
- The only person anyone can really change in this world is ourselves.
- Our children are a reflection of us.
Go back a few paragraphs and reread the “help list” from our young adults. Be honest with yourself (no judgement here!) Are you confident in the things they want you to teach them? Are we being fiscally responsible? Do we uphold moral values? Are we humble?
I think I’m going to spend a little less time indulging in belittling and condemning our Millennial generation and reflecting more honestly on what I’m doing to securely and patiently pass the baton. I am determined to see the good; and in so doing, stop condemning our children’s generation before it has even found its sure-footing.
*Cited with permission–thank you! 🙂