By Rosa Perez, LGSW
Millennials – the children born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. You may recognize many of them as your technology-devoted children, grandchildren, students, partners, and co-workers. Millennials, however, are much more than the technology they love. They are a generation finding themselves feeling stuck between their dreams for creating a personal and community future and the unsteady reality of today’s culture and economy.
Millennials are a generation that was asked to dream. Their parents and grandparents encouraged and supported them to reach for the sky, to “be anything you want to be when you grow up”, and “do a job you’re passionate about”. As a generation they took this to heart. They dreamed and they created.
They are a generation of dreamers. As dreamers they have desired to travel the world, push past limits, and be curious. They desire to do right by the hard work of their families who have cleared paths to allow their idealism. Many Millennials have achieved “the American dream” – education + financial security + family. However, there is a growing number of our Millennial cohort now reaching their mid-twenties and early thirties struck between the disillusionment of the dream in today’s rough economy and being unable to recapture the adulthoods lived by our parents and grandparents.
Too many Millennials find themselves with educational debt; debt which was assumed would lead to improved job security, greater job availability, and an ability to live and work with passion. Instead, many have left school and entered into a highly competitive, limping job market. With the downturned economy, followed by its continuing slow recovery, Millennials were both over-skilled and under-skilled for the market. Many available jobs are entry level, lacking critical benefits and offering low pay that cannot provide for independent livelihoods, in addition to paying off educational debt.
Some Millennials now find themselves returning home to save money, feeling more like children than adults, and sometimes feeling like they’ve let down their families. Many others are unable to invest in the housing market to purchase a home with educational debt and low income; and ultimately, without financial or personal independence, they are also partnering and starting families later than generations before. For many, it is difficult to reconcile the space between their hopes, their reality, and what this means for themselves and their families.
If you have a struggling Millennial in your life, here are some of the emotions they might be experiencing:
- anxiety about financial concerns
- confusion about where to go in one’s career
- worries about not succeeding like their parents did
- disappointment about not being able to buy a house
- sense of feeling behind in where you should be
So, as parents, grandparents, teachers, and partners – how can we help support the Millennials in our lives?
- Support your loved one where they are, not where you want them to be.
- Recognize and acknowledge the limitations being placed on them by today’s society.
- Remind them it’s a new generation and expectations are different.
- Be understanding about the fact that it’s a process and the solution is not happening overnight.
In addition to offering emotional support, offer to help them budget their money, explore other career options, or help with networking. Think of the old adage about teaching someone to fish.
The following article “A Positive, Encouraging Guide to Overcoming Failure” has a concise, nine-step guide to re-imagining our approach to challenges and our own personal choices.
Millennials can find therapy and career support services at JCS. For younger Millennials, we also offer the Mitchell David Teen Center, which provides social and educational programming. It’s important that Millennials not feel like they are alone. Click here to learn about our Millennial Voices Movement. After all, in helping promote our Millennials’ connection to community we ensure that, together, we are helping to support a generation that will in turn support and nourish the next.
By Rosa Perez, LGSW, Therapist, JCS Mental Health Services
To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.