Family Magazine

Let’s Not Pigeonhole Millennials

By Sandwichedboomers @SandwichBoomers

Millennium-Development-goalsDo you know that, according to the older generation, “kids today” often have a sense of entitlement and are clueless about how to communicate without social media? A pigeonhole is an overly restrictive category, which fails to reflect the actual complexities. And that’s exactly what we’re doing to the eight million Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000.

According to the media, the ‘Me Generation’ has created a new developmental stage between adolescence and adulthood called adultolescense. More of them are living with a parent than a partner, in part because they’re facing one of the worst job markets in decades. Many are unemployed and need jobs to pay down college costs and other debt. Unemployment remains in the double digits and there are more economic challenges ahead.

New data from Pew Research Center indicates that, in their 20s, only 1 in 4 Millennials has married compared to one third of Gen X and half of the Baby Boomers. That static, too, reflects tough economic circumstances. Although they’re the best educated in US history, they also have the most student loan debt. Another factor is that many have lived through their parents’ divorces and in blended families. They want to feel secure and certain before making a commitment, which indicates a mature, cautious and responsible attitude.

So they are not as much a lost generation as a generation in flux, having to think about success as more than just material prosperity. With a spirit of giving back, well over half contribute to charitable causes and volunteer work. And they’re less focused on financial success and more interested in a meaningful career.

Social psychologists define meaning as the degree to which we feel our life has purpose, value and impact. We all suffer times of fear and self-doubt. But we can feel connected by focusing on making a positive difference. Millennials are setting themselves up for the meaningful life they want.

Try to rethink your perspective on Gen Y. Do you see them as immature or late bloomers, sensitive or vulnerable, self-assured or overconfident? Do they only challenge the status quo or also think they can do it better? Do they not measure up to your standards or simply want you to listen to their opinions? Give them a break.

Let’s stop labeling Millennials and provide the support they need. Many put a high priority on saving, being frugal and scaling back. A lot live together, even communally, to save on rent. They have high hopes for a bright future. Best of all, they’re making sacrifices because they feel their goals are achievable.


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