Why Millennials are the Coolest Generation
Quite often, Millennial Babies get a lot of flak for how they are doing life. They use too much technology, they over-share on social media, they are distant and distracted and they do not spank their kids.
I saw a video traveling around Facebook (how ironic that most people use the internet to grumble, of all things, about the internet) where a “Millennial” was on an interview. She was late, on her phone, lackadaisical, disrespectful, and thought her social media knowledge qualified as, “Proficient in computer software.” While this video was most likely meant to be a little on the over dramatized side, I, as a Millennial, found it insulting.
I work a full-time job that I interviewed for on two different levels. I show up on time, meet my goals, and get positive feedback on a regular basis. I own a home, have a family, and have paid off a car and all my student debt. Oh, did I mention I graduated on time with a Bachelor’s degree while playing sports and working two jobs? I also have a very active social media life. So before you lump Millennials into a good-for-tweeting, phone-obsessed, ungrateful box, consider who the term Millennial actually refers to and then look at the ones in your life and tell me you are not proud of the adults they have become.
Contrary to popular opinion, Millennials are not the 14-year-olds of today who are taking selfies in the middle school bathroom. They are the generation that entered young adulthood at the turn of the millennium or early in the 21st century. By now, most of them are well into their 20’s and some are moving into their 30’s. Many of them have graduated from college and moved on to adult life. Some are pursing high-level careers in fields that did not even exist when their parents entered the work force. And some of them, like my husband and me, have a family of their own.
Baby Boomers roll their eyes when we Millennials talk about our parenting style. We say we want to validate our kids’ feelings and it is met with responses such as, “I never validated my kids’ feelings. I just gave them something to cry about.” But they never stopped to think that maybe that is exactly why my generation is so into feeling validation; because we do not feel like ours were given any recognition.
I remember my parents telling me I was not allowed to be at the dinner table if I was angry. I was told no one wanted to see me when I was upset and I should just go to my room until I could be “more pleasant.” This taught me that I should fake happy (something I am still terrible at) and hide what I was feeling with a smile. That is not a healthy way of dealing with emotions and if I can help my kid deal with emotions better than I was taught, I am going to.
I want my child to know it is ok to be angry and ok to feel sad. It is not ok to hit mom when she tells you no, and it is not ok to throw a fit because you are angry. But anger and sadness are not bad things. They are part of what makes us human. Is my child more pleasant when he is happy? Of course! But do I love him less when he is angry? Absolutely not and I do not want him to think that just because he is angry, mom does not want to be around him.
Still when I am angry, I want to hit something and I yell. My poor husband has to CONSTANTLY ask me to not yell at him. Perhaps if I can teach my son that yelling at others is not a healthy way of expressing his feelings and give him a better outlet, I can save a wife from years of, “Please don’t yell at me.” And yes, I was spanked for yelling and yet, I still yell.
Before you go assuming things, I am not against spanking my child or using physical discipline when the situation calls for it, but if I do not take the time to teach him before I raise my hand, how can I expect him to learn anything except expressing his feelings physically? Sometimes, a sharp pain is needed to (quite literally) impress the importance of something on a tiny, stubborn, human. Other times, using words and respecting their feelings enough to explain that what they are doing wrong is what they need.
Isn’t the dream of each parenting generation to raise children better than they were raised? To send children out into a world better than the one they were sent into? Maybe that way of thinking is why Millennials have all taken on this softer style of parenting. Maybe this IS the “better” that 80’s parents wanted for us! Maybe a generation of stern parents with their paddles and their backhands to the mouth is what makes a generation of parents who want to talk about feelings and respect their children as individual beings.
Another hot topic when it comes to Millennials is technology. I do not think anyone would argue that technology is not better now. Move over land lines, VCRs, and Dial-up internet that I was raised with, today we have cell phones in our pockets, streaming TV, and free Wi-Fi mostly everywhere. Tell me, if you can, that these things are not better.
The argument usually comes up when the older generation says we Millennials are distracted and obsessed with our technology. But a lot of Millennials today use that technology to work, to connect with family, or to manage a creative outlet – like the one you are reading. My family is basically in my phone. Texting is my primary means of communication with my sisters. Facebook is the only way I get consistent updates on my nieces and nephews, and Instagram is a one-stop sharing site for all the pictures of our babies. These technologies are a great resource.
I spend a lot of time playing with my son. I have not missed a single milestone or learned skill but I constantly have my phone within arm’s reach so I can snap a picture of those dimples when they decide to make an appearance. You know how many pictures I have seen of myself as an infant? Less than ten. Perhaps my family has fewer baby pictures than most because we moved internationally on a regular basis. I am sure most of our photos would have gotten lost. But more likely, they were never taken at all because lugging around a brick sized camera was not convenient. I certainly do not have any pictures of myself and my mom eating Cheerios on the kitchen floor.
And you know what? I do not remember my parents as super present. I remember family beach days when my mom would read her book on the shore rather than come in the ocean with us, but I also remember days when she WOULD put down the book and come swim. I remember evenings when my dad would be working on a sermon and ask us to leave him alone, but I remember some nights when he would start a game of hide-and-seek in the house because the power was out. I remember both present, incredibly fun parents and parents who were taken up with other adult activities. Distracted parenting, other wise known as Adulting while your kids are around, is not a new concept. We are just doing it differently than our parents did and it is giving us a bad rap.
I was given my first cell phone at 16 because I was taking a solo trip three sates away via train, and my dad wanted to be able to contact me. I do not intend to give my child his own phone until I feel like he truly needs it, but today, kids as young at 8 (maybe even younger) have cell phones in school. The older generations gripe about why such a young child needs to be able to “call friends.” but isn’t it nice to know that when a school shooting happens, your child can text you and tell you they are safe? How nice is it that parents can tell their children they love them at any point in the day, even from miles away. Maybe 80’s parents, “Got on just fine without a cell phone,” but they were not middle school students in 2018 hearing about violent crimes what seems like every other day. Our world has changed and Millennials have been given the job of adapting to it. I think we are doing a damn fine job.
Thanks to social media, Millennials are connecting with people from all walks of life. We are exposed to cultures from all over the world. We are learning about and accepting people who are different from us much more than the generations before us even had the opportunity to. We have unlimited access to information and can contact nearly anyone at the touch of a button-less screen. Just because our parents and grandparents lived beautiful lives without these things does not mean these things are not incredible improvements to life.
Millennials are not perfect, but neither were the Baby Boomers or Gen X. It saddens me (there are those feelings again) that a good bit of society today thinks that if something offends them, it should be outlawed. They think that if their feels are hurt, someone should defend them. But maybe if, as children, they had been given healthy outlets for their feelings and validation, they would not constantly be looking for someone else to fix the things that they do not like. Maybe they would be able to find productive outlets that affect real change rather than being keyboard bullies who spout hate on social media and demand others pay when they are feeling wronged. Millennials are definitely a softer generation than the ones before them.
But remember, this is the generation that 80’s parents raised with spankings. So either our parents did it right, and as a result, we turned into wonderful humans who are rocking adult life and killin’ it at parenting our own children, or we are a lackadaisical, disrespectful, good-for-tweeting, phone-obsessed generation and, because of this, we should try parenting differently than our parents did.
Rather than complaining about us, start encouraging the Millennials in your life to keep doing a bang-up job at adulting.