Nurturing and understanding millennials
By Colten Kamlade, Columnist
It’s all too often that you hear the older generation complaining about the newer one. Whether it’s about how lazy, brainwashed, or childish they are, it seems that everyone has a strong opinion when it comes to millennials, but they are forgetting something important. This generation is a product of the previous one, and if it’s true that we are egotistical and stupid, it’s because adults messed something up.
I am not alone in this belief, there are sociologists and psychologists who agree. In Chap Clark’s book Hurt 2.0, he argues that the faults of millennials have been exacerbated by adults. The spirit of his teaching is essentially that “It takes a village to raise a child.” Children need more adults in their lives than just their parents. Aunts, grandfathers, teachers, and mentors of all kinds contribute to the social development of kids.
Clark calls the decrease of adult involvement in children’s lives the erosion of social capital. If you’ve ever taken a sociology class you have probably heard this term, though Clark does not use the standard definition. He stipulates that social capital is an individual’s capacity to care for others without expecting anything in return. Children don’t usually have anything to give back, and so they are increasingly left out of adult social interactions. Combine this with the fact that families have become more isolated from their larger community, and an entire generation is raised without a proper support system.
Another problem is that children do not receive proper acknowledgement from adults. Praise may have been showered upon them, but it was praise to do with their achievement—whether real or imagined. When all that children know is merit-based praise, they will constantly search for it. They want the kind of affirmation that was given to them when they were younger because it is the only way they can feel valuable, and this makes them self-centered.
So, what is to be done? First of all, millennials need to be open to criticism. If we recognize some of these accusations against us as being true, we need to be willing to talk about our faults without getting our backs up. More importantly, community needs to once again become an important part of culture. People need to invest in others’ lives without expecting something in return. Perhaps most importantly, adults need to mentor and care for children while focusing on their inherent worth as a human being, rather than on their achievements.