When I describe my work with failure to launch parents, I typically find these friends either have similar problems or know of parents who do. Often the comment is that you just need to “give them the boot.” Some state that “I never had a problem leaving home” and “couldn’t wait to leave.” This often moves on to denigrations regarding the entire millenial generation as “trophy” kids or “entitled.” So, let’s set the record straight.
Before we start, I want to emphasize the importance of balanced thinking concerning young adults today. Most parents who see me in my clinical practice can readily list off all of the shortcomings and failures of their young adult son or daughter without hesitation. They are highly focused on what they see as a failure to launch, and as such, their radar is highly tuned to support this perception. This tendency is often referred to as “confirmation bias.” We have a particular view, we seek data to confirm the bias and ignore data that is inconsistent. Granted, these parents didn’t come to see me to sing the praises of their son or daughter. At the same time, they have not made an equal effort to identify positive aspects of their adult child’s behavior.
So, what are the positive attributes of Millennials? Here are a few that I report in my book Can You Speak Millennial” ese?”
Millennials Value and are Close to their Families
- Half of all millennials say it is important to live close to family and friends (only 29% of boomers hold this view).
- Millennials report fewer conflicts with parents than in past generations.
- Millennials communicate with their mothers and fathers almost daily via phone, email, text, etc.
- Sixty percent of millennials believe it is their responsibility to have elderly parents come to live with them (25% of boomers hold this view).
- Most millennials subscribe to traditional values of employment, homeownership, marriage, and children.
Millennials and Religion
- Millennials are the least overtly religious generation, with one in four not identifying with organized religion. However, millennials pray as often as their elders, donate money, goods or services (81%), and believe making a difference in the world is more important than professional recognition (84%).
Millennials and Work
- Millennials value meaningful work with work-life balance and change jobs every two years in search of the right career.
- Most settle on a career by their early thirties.
Millennials and Marriage
- The average age for first marriages for males today is 29.5, and for females, it is 27.4. This is a statistic and trend worth celebrating and is likely a contributor to the lower first marriage divorce rate that is now 32%, not 50%. That latter statistic is attributed to us boomers.
There are many things to celebrate about Millennials. Population statistics are useful in getting a bigger picture of this generation, but shouldn’t serve as a substitute for just asking and listening to seek understanding with our young adult child. Differences are just that and shouldn’t be viewed as right or wrong or good and bad. Finally, we need to remind ourselves of the value of having a balanced view of our young adult and resist the tendency to only focus on what worries us or what we don’t like.