Rob Callender writes: If you’re looking to track the changes between the outgoing youth cohort (Millennials) and the incoming one (Centennials), first understand the differences in the way their parents raised them.
Millennials grew up with an emphasis on safety, self-expression, and teamwork. Parents often played the role of doting friends and protectors, and Millennials offered relatively little pushback. The generation gap that characterized the Boomer generation’s youth was barely in evidence: Millennials appreciated family dinners and their parents’ taste in music. They were generally “good kids,” who learned from an early age that the future should unfold safely and predictably—and that they’d inherit it when the time came.
Centennials, on the other hand, born in or after 1997, came of age in a time of trial and trauma. In response, their parents have been shifting from self-esteem parenting to an emphasis on self-empowerment and self-assurance. Compared to a generation ago, today’s parents are promising less, teaching more, and pushing teens to be bolder and more proactive from a much younger age.
These efforts are beginning to show up in our data.
About one-third of Centennials and Millennials alike agree that their mothers still treat them like babies. Imagine it: a group of young adults in college or the workforce are just as likely to say their parents infantilize them as individuals in middle school or high school! It’s startling.
Asked whether their parents let them make their own decisions “frequently,” “occasionally,” “rarely” or “never,” significantly more Centennials than Millennials say they make their own decisions at least sometimes. Talk about a shift in empowerment!
These findings seem to support a study that appeared in the April edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family suggesting, when it comes to family time, quality is more important than quantity.
After a long experiment with helicopter parenting, it looks like change is in the air. Self-esteem is giving way to self-direction. Over-confidence is giving way to over-competence.
Rob Callender is Director of Youth Insights at The Futures Company. Image source: Thinkstock.