We were slightly famous on Mother’s Day when a fun photo of my sister with our daughters made it into the San Francisco Chronicle’s Mommy Files in honor of Mother’s Day.
My sister and I are both Gen X’ers who each have Millennial daughters: two of the 80 million Millennials that exist today. They are getting a bad rap these days as the Me Me Me Generation, or as lazy, entitled narcissists who have no respect for authority. But according to Time Magazine’s article The New Greatest Generation : Why Millennials Will Save Us All, they are well on their way to ruling the world. And why not? We raised them that way. The best way to understand Millennials is to have raised one because their upbringing explains how they view life and the choices they make. Here are some examples of how we created these little Millennial darlings:
- We had a strict upbringing — parents were the enemies and children had different rights than the adults. So when we became parents, we opted to ”peer-ent” our daughters. That means becoming BFFs with them, including them in everything we did and spending girlie time — such as shopping, mani/pedi, sharing jeans, and even going to concerts together. Daily chats on Skype or g-chatting are the norm. This explains why this generation doesn’t want to miss out on anything and be part of it all and also defy authority: hierarchies don’t exist for them.
- We sent our daughters to the best schools, sat in the front row at all their school theater performances, cheered them on at every basketball, soccer, volleyball, rowing meet — even if it meant getting up on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. This explains why they always look for recognition, acknowledgment, engage in healthy competition, and always want to know how they rank in comparison to the rest.
- We carefully documented the first 13 years of their lives from the minute they said their first words to taking their first steps. We hid behind heavy camcorders, took videos, photographs, and arranged everything neatly in scrapbooks and photo albums. This explains why they are part of the “quantified self” generation recording their daily steps each hour and posting it to draw as many “likes” as possible.
- We said YES to everything; we encouraged them to conquer the world and told them they were capable of doing anything and everything as long as they loved what they did, the money would follow. So it doesn’t come as a big surprise that our daughters are more concerned about enjoying their jobs, working with good friends and for companies that treat them well, and can easily be swayed to move to something completely different if it feeds their soul.
- We insulated them from the big bad world and instead made them “reality ready,” learning about life from TV shows such as Survivor, The Bachelor, Real World, American Idol, and The Apprentice, made them fearful they would get kicked off the island or get fired for anything they did wrong.
- We taught them to be selective when it came to relationships and take time when getting to know someone new, but instead they are part of an online culture that “hooks up” fast, tweets about their feelings, and breaks up through texting.
- They grew up around technology and some believe they are the most threatening and exciting generation not because they are trying to take over the establishment but because they don’t need one. Their knowledge of technology gives them power, and in many ways they don’t need us.
- Finally, we taught them to believe they are “special.” But according to this You Are Not Special Commencement speech, they are not a new species, they’ve just mutated to adapt to their environment: