Recently I had a conversation with a friend whose kids are grown. By that, I mean they are out of college, and working. But like many people of their generation, they are still financially dependent on their parents.
There’s been a lot written and said about the Millennial generation and how they just can’t seem to “grow up” and act like adults. Why are they living at home? Why aren’t they working harder? What is wrong with them?
I am going to confess something right now: I have been Judgy McJudgersoning the parents of Millennials. I have been “blaming” them for what is “wrong” with their children. But the more I think about it, the more I realize I am an asshole for that.
The story I had bought into about Millennials is this: their parents were a generation of helicopter parents, indulging them in everything they could possibly want, protecting them from the world, never giving them an opportunity to take risks, never making them work hard, helping them with everything along the way. So, now they are a bunch of entitled assholes who mooch off their parents instead of taking responsibility for their own lives. That is to say, Mommy fucked them up.
Just writing that out, I mean, what kind of a judgmental asshole am I for thinking that about someone? Let alone a whole generation?
Let’s start over. First off, as usual, when we talk about Millennials finishing college and not becoming self-supporting, let’s remember we’re talking about the ones who came from families who could afford to send them to college and then support them financially after they graduated. Is that what’s happening in poor communities? I think not. Poor Millennials are living a VERY different life than the ones we read about in the paper.
Then there’s the part where we don’t talk about the Great Recession killing off middle class jobs. It is not easy to work at Walmart (the job you can get these days when you have little work experience beyond whatever part time work you did to help pay for college) and pay off your student loans. Also, let’s remember that tuition costs have EXPLODED. When I graduated from a private college in 1998, tuition was around $20,000 a year. It’s more than twice that now, only 15 years later. Tuition at the public law school I graduated from in 2001 has TRIPLED, in just 12 years. It makes sense that middle class parents, who are much more likely to have good paying jobs than their children, are helping their adult children financially.
Also, is it so bad that the Millennial generation values things other than financial success? Like their relationships with others? And a sense of doing something good in the world? Why is any of that a bad thing?
See, The Cult of Perfect Motherhood tells you that you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Be completely dedicated to your children, read every study, apply every parenting tip, because if you don’t, you are going to ruin their lives. But if you DO apply every parenting tip, give them all your attention and meet all their needs, you are smothering them to death and they will never learn to stand on their own two feet.
Fuck that noise.
My friend is doing what she thinks is best for her kids. I am doing what I think is best for mine. We might make different choices, but we are living in different circumstances. And most importantly, we both love our children. She is not a bad parent and neither am I.
So, I am going to stop Judgy McJudgersoning the “helicopter parent” generation. I will keep talking about why I parent the way I do, and why I think parenting from a place of fear and guilt is not a good idea. But I will not put down other moms who made different choices than me, because just like me, they are doing what they think is best for their children.
And I will hope that the economy is less insane when it comes time for my kids to take flight.