A Millennial Takes on His Fellow Basement Dwellers
'I can criticize this generation because I am a member of it,' says a bold young man with a message
There was a time when a child reached the age of 18 or 20 and was considered a full-fledged adult. Now, over the course of the last 50 years, too many in that age group recline in the lap of luxury in the family home — on their hardworking parents’ dime.
I have the ability to criticize this generation because I am a member of it. I am also very vocal on this issue because it shouldn’t exist in the first place. Is this “failure to launch” our fault? Not completely — there are additional factors that play into how long it takes a millennial to fly the nest.
We do not feel the need to focus our energy on anything beyond our virtual worlds.
1.) Lack of structure within the home
Family life during my father’s childhood was very different. During the early part of my grandparents’ adult life, they briefly lived in a three-decker home, along with a whole host of my grandmother’s relatives. From her mother, to cousins (and a few in-laws along the way), the beginning of adulthood for my grandparents was dramatically different from both mine and my father’s. Back then, everyone had a role to play in keeping the home running. Today, there is no set structure within many families. Tasks and chores are replaced with distractions like iPhones and tablets — for children as young as five years old. Thus, carelessness and disobedience start early.
2.) A hyper-focus on technology
Technology is a contributing factor to staying at home. With the advent of new wireless gadgets and high-tech innovation, the world is now literally at our fingertips. We do not feel the need to go out and focus our energy on anything outside of our virtual worlds. The concept of instant gratification has led us to not only act like children, but to also lose the virtue of patience, lose our ability to accept loss or defeat, and accept the word “no.”
While technology has its advantages, automation has freed up time and contributed to the growth of pure laziness. You know what they say: “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”
3.) Lack of early employment
The responsibility for this troubling lack of motivation largely lies with parents and how they have brought us up. For example, as soon as I was 14, I got my first job as part of the beach maintenance crew at Spring Lake Beach along the Jersey shore. I have held that job ever summer for 10 years.
Many are not forced to get a job as they grow up, to learn what it is like to pay for your own good and services, gadgets, and other wants. They simply enjoy an “ask and you shall receive” parental mentality.
4.) Disappearing discipline
Parents have become too sensitive to hard discipline. I’m not recommending that children start receiving harsh physical punishment, of course — but light spankings wouldn’t hurt some of those who are much younger. As for older children, it is time for parents to stand up to kids who act as though they run the house. As a college student living at home, I am an active participant in what has to be done to run our household.
It’s just how I was raised.
People do not simply turn 16 or 18 and suddenly have the ability to do whatever they please, offering nothing in return. Either you carry your weight — or you find your own place. If boundaries are not set, consequences are not initiated and respect is not established, then teachers and educators, bosses, and co-workers will more than likely be shown the same selfish attitude.
5.) The past economy
Unfortunately, the recent economy was no help in attaining a “next step” for millions of college grads and youth at large. With the recession, jobs for millennials disappeared. We became hopeless, many of us, and gave up looking for work altogether.
Your kids should be able to take care of you someday — your care and happiness will become a top priority for them.
Several solutions can staunch the bleeding of unmotivated, overly comfortable millennials living off Mom and Dad. First, we must rejuvenate the job market with good-paying jobs, showing those in lower-skilled work that this employment is not the end of the line but merely a stepping stone.
Next, parents must begin to set limits, gradually but sternly, on what they will offer adult children. Find ways to get kids motivated to want to see beyond the four familiar walls.
I say all this not because I believe our generation is a hopeless bunch, but because I know that with the proper nudges, appropriate accountability, and healthy changes in lifestyle, everyone in the family will benefit.
Parents, it simply is not fair for you to have to keep subsidizing your adult children as you yourselves grow older — they must be able to tackle the world head on. And they should be able to take care of you someday — your care and happiness becoming a top priority for them.
This is the way family should work through the generations. Each family is its own special team.
Gregg Keniston, 22 years old, is a senior at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. He is studying finance and the business of music.