Millennials are accused of being lazy, narcissistic, entitled, and hard to manage, but Millennials say such characteristics are misinterpretations of depression and social anxiety. Either way, don’t these claims merit a discussion on what happened to make them perceived to be or feel these ways? Public figures, like Simon Sinek, say Millennials are this way because of failed parenting. I agree that parenting and education had the biggest influence on these children, but I disagree with the parenting tactics that Sinek and others blame and think that a real discussion on American parenting is due.
Simon Sinek says parents and teachers told Millennials that they were special and that “they can have anything they want in life just because they want it,” and that this left them feeling entitled. But, these words used to be considered motivational and implied that if you dream big and work hard, that you can earn what you want. Child psychologists say that telling a child such things raises their self-esteem, but Millennials have low self-esteem. Could it be that these words weren’t coupled with appropriate actions to be taken as intended?
Participation medals are mentioned as part of the problem, but the medals have been found to embarrass children and harm their self-esteem rather than make them feel entitled. I agree the medals are a problem because they teach that simply completing something is good enough without caring about the quality of the work or taking pride in it. They also don’t provide an incentive for anyone to try to be the best.
So, if these things weren’t the problem, what are some things that could have caused Millennials to be labeled so many unhealthy things by themselves and others?
Millennials were raised similarly to previous generations in that they experienced the usual American child-rearing method of “stop crying or I will give you something to cry about.” But, on top of that, parents worked, broken families were common, and the Millennials became the daycare generation. They were given sensory-overloading toys, TV’s, and video games instead of engaging human interactions and outdoor play. In addition, they were given large amounts of processed foods with increased amounts of additives and decreased amounts of nutrients compared to former generations.
When these things made them lack communication skills and obtain an addiction for sensory overload, and when worn-down adults couldn’t get them to sit down and shut up, they were labeled with ADHD or ADD and became the medicated generation. The Millennials were raised in a manner that left them with many unmet needs. Emotional intelligence, communication skills, and valuable life lessons are learned in early childhood from adult interactions that many of them did not have.
Public school education groomed them to be cogs in the machine. They were taught that if they don’t like the cooperate world or don’t do so great by just showing up, there is a great, exciting and meaningful spot reserved for them in the military-industrial complex. They were told that to be successful, to make adults proud, and to have an impact they should go to college or join the military.
Now that they are older, they have houses to buy and careers and families to build while trying to decide if they even want these things. They are faced with student loans, a terrible economy, and ridicule about living with their parents. They have to balance the feelings that they deserve good things with their low self-esteem and that they have to work for what they want with their depression and anxiety, and they feel as if they are expected to do it all overnight.
Research shows Millennials want to work for something that they view as meaningful. And, they have the power to make the biggest change yet – the change in themselves and how they will raise their children because that is the best thing that they can do for the greater good. Currently, Millennials believe in spanking, and I hope that they can learn the tools necessary to buck the trend and really change the world.
I’m not here to bash parents, but I am here to ask society to analyze the ways American children are being raised. As suicide rates have risen dramatically across all age groups and both genders, and as generations keep accusing each other of being the problem, isn’t it time to see if we are raising children to be adults who have the tools that they need to be happy into their adult years?