I am the mom of two Millennial children and a professor who teaches this age group. So, I have a unique vantage point from which to see how different this generation is from my own. I often find myself thinking,

“I would never do that or act that way to another adult.”

Many of the characterizations of Millennials are negative but are they fair?  

Millennials are those people born in or after 1984. They have been referred to as the coddled generation with helicopter parents who catered to them too much. They are accused of being entitled and narcissistic, self-interested, unfocused and lazy.

An interesting YouTube video by Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker and marketing consultant, has almost 3 million views.  Sinek contends that Millennials have four distinguishing characteristics:

1. He feels parents of Millennials have failed their children by making them feel special all the time, pushing them into honors classes they don’t deserve, and telling them they can have anything they want. Basically, he blames parents for creating entitled children.

2. According to Sinek, Millennials use social media to numb themselves when stressed. He sees social media use as a coping tool that helps these young people avoid real time relationships. For example, it is not uncommon to see two people sitting next to each other, texting rather than talking.

3. Sinek points to a lack of patience, exemplified by young adults who quit their job after a few months because they don’t experience immediate success or sense they’re making an impact. The lack of patience leads to quitting early and struggling with the journey of life. This may be one reason we see so many mental health problems.

4. Finally, he sees corporate America playing into Millennials’ desire for a substantial salary, and ironically, a lack of commitment to people in their work environment.

However, a 2012 Pew Survey found positive traits of Millennials. We discuss those on our show and now have reasons to be optimistic. For example, Millennials care for the environment and are good at raising consciousness regarding causes and injustice. They seem to be more open-minded, confident and self-expressive and love new ideas.

One day soon, Millennials will be our leaders. Perhaps it is time to get to know them better and see how we can bridge the gap between our different generations.  After all, these are the young adults who attend our churches, work in our organizations, and live in our homes. And, let’s also remember that the power of Christ that lives in us, overcomes any stereotype and transforms a person to be more like Christ.

Understanding Millennials

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