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I'm right smack in the middle of "Generation X," as are most of my friends. I've noticed a trend among my friends recently of lamenting "Millennials." The Millennials are the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Many were born into an era where the Berlin Wall never existed, the internet was always a thing and HIV/AIDS terrorized anyone even thinking about having sex.

This generation is often criticized for being too needy, too dependent and too curious. Employers complain that they ask too many questions and require too much validation. "Because I said so" doesn't satisfy them, because quite often their parents were raised on a healthy dose of it and abandoned it in favor of actual communication. They were also raised in an age where information flowed like water from the internet into their minds, the answers always a simple click away.

Their parents have been more involved in their lives than probably any other generation has, sometimes to a fault. Some may say this has made them too soft and prevented them from reaching full emotional maturity, but it has also helped them developed deep empathy and appreciation for others.

What we should see when we look at the Millennials is a future full of hope. A recent study from the Public Religion Research Institute shows us just how progressive their ideas and values are.

Even Republicans among them see the need for fairness in or economic system, and recognize that it does not currently exist:

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of college-age Millennials agree that the economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy, while (24%) disagree. Majorities of members of all political parties agree: 85% of Democratic Millennials, 71% of Independent Millennials, and 59% of Republican Millennials.
We also see that they have developed an ability to separate their own values from their political beliefs. While 49% said that sex between two people of the same gender is "morally wrong," nearly 60% favor legalizing gay marriage. So, while they don't necessarily agree with the behavior, they respect the rights of others. We see something similar with abortion. 51% say abortion is "morally wrong," yet 59% "believe that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions."

The full report paints a picture of a generation that overwhelmingly holds the progressive values we fight for. They are less religious, more open-minded and more tolerant than any other generation. They are also now becoming parents, raising their own children and passing those values on to them.

Instead of complaining that they ask too many questions, we should appreciate their curiosity and desire to understand the world and how it can be improved. It is those qualities that will allow us to see real progress in our own lifetimes.


What generation are you?

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Comment Preferences

  •  As the mother of three millennials, I have great (11+ / 0-)

    hope for the future. My youngest is 20 today. The older sons are 27 and almost 26. They are all considerate and caring individuals.

    •  My youngest is 11 today (4+ / 0-)

      As a preteen, we don't often get the "caring and considerate" side of her personality -- but despite her best efforts to prove she's grown up and blasé, her kindness still leaks out...

      Happy birthday to juniorest BJM!

      The search for truth and knowledge is one of the finest attributes of a man, though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least -- Albert Einstein

      by theKgirls on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 04:41:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a younger Boomer. (4+ / 0-)

    Which means I'm in the  weird slot of not quite being a hippy older Boomer or a Grungy Xer.

    I felt the older Boomers should have cut us some slack back in the '80s and some of the '90s instead of copping such a "Why are you soooo unmellow?" attitude.

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:32:41 AM PDT

  •  "Because I said so" (10+ / 0-)

    I'm a boomer, and I didn't and still won't take that for an answer.

    Any boss that can't explain someone's job ought to get fired.   Cause I said so is bull shit.  

    "bin Laden's dead, and GM is alive" ~ Biden

    by dkmich on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 03:52:15 AM PDT

    •  There is some validity to "Because I'm paying you" (8+ / 0-)
      •  I Want My Employer (3+ / 0-)

        To have a clear sense of my responsibilities and to communicate them to me in a way that I can understand.

        But depending on the role, I don't always need to understand the rationale. Sometimes, I'm really just there to interpret commands that come either from management, or are developed in some other way by my peers.

        I can take "because I said so" and execute flawlessly, if that is what the task requires.

        At other times, though, I have to carry through the whole cycle of gathering requirements -- what do you want me to do? -- doing research, planning, implementing, etc.

        But not always.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:06:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  getting info out of my boss like pulling teeth (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ThatPoshGirl, ebohlman

          There must be some serious language difficulties lying around the office, because I'm constantly having to ask for clarification for sentences lacking grammatical objects, for tasks lacking details that I know are implied but want spelled out so I can know I'm doing the right thing, and am trying hard to get into that habit myself so that no-one can have any doubt about exactly what I'm talking about and exactly what I want to know about it.  

          "You should already know what to do, and if you don't then that reflects badly on you, not on management" is such a frustrating attitude to have to deal with, and even my far more experienced co-worker gets it too.  But of course if you act independently, then you still have to deal with getting something wrong.  Pick a management style and stop trying to have it both ways: if you want drones you have to be prepared to exert the necessary control - to think for us and to communicate constantly - and if you want independence and initiative then you have to be prepared to deal with our decisions.

          To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

          by Visceral on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 12:23:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  isn't that redundant? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crashing Vor, ThatPoshGirl

        Lewis & Clark Law class of 2015

        by James Allen on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:07:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We are not in the military. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Crashing Vor, ThatPoshGirl

        If the best answer s/he's got is "I'm paying you", they need to be fired.  I managed and supervised a staff of 20 - 40 people for 30 years.   Yes, I got tired of explaining; but if it helps them to do a better job, it is the least I can do.  You can't encourage people to come to you, run an open door shop, and then blow them off when they do.  

        I have two favorite sayings I use all the time:   1.  I would rather answer your "stupid" questions than fix your dumb mistakes is the one I use when I am assuring them that we will be supportive and helpful if they come forward for additional direction.    2.) Nobody pays us to be happy is what they get if they don't like the explanation.  

        "bin Laden's dead, and GM is alive" ~ Biden

        by dkmich on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 08:36:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually, that doesn't work in the military. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ThatPoshGirl, dkmich

          All leaders are taught (and told repeatedly for the past 30 or so years) to explain WHY the mission (whatever it may be) is important and what the soldier's role in the mission will be.  The doctrinal term is "2 up, 1 down."  I.e. as a member of a squad, your team leader will tell you what you are to do, what the platoon mission is (1 up) and what the company's mission is (2 up).

          By knowing what the mission  is and why it is important, when opportunities on the battlefield pop up (the enemy unexpectedly pulls back, doesn't cover an avenue of approach, etc), then the unit can take full advantage of it.

          The American fighting man and woman have always had to know WHY.  This isn't a new thing, it has been that way since Concord and Lexington.

  •  I Cut Them Plenty of Slack (10+ / 0-)

    There are no jobs for them. At all. And we've destroyed many of the professions that they might have trained for. And we haven't planned anything at all for what they might do to provide for themselves in the future.

    It's pretty bleak for them.

    I don't have nearly the advantages that my Boomer parents had.

    But that gap is nothing compared to what these kids will face. I suspect that their live expectancy, for example, will be several years shorter than that of their grandparents.

    Good luck to all.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 05:09:06 AM PDT

  •  My boss is a millennial (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, ThatPoshGirl

    I'm an older boomer. Every time I do some work task, even the most routine thing, she thanks me effusively. At first it drove me crazy, now I'm just amused. It's my job, for gosh sakes! Just thank me when I do something above and beyond. Recently, a colleague at another company explained that it was because she was of the younger generation. I guess so.

  •  Cut them some slack for what, exactly? And why? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You say that they are criticized for being too needy, too dependent and too curious, but you only address the last, by saying that we should appreciate their curiosity. I do, but I also see the neediness and lack of independence in some of them. I blame that mostly on their parents and hope they'll grow out of it.

    I guess I am technically a baby boomer (born in the early 60s), although I don't think of myself that way. In fact I think the whole idea of characterizing people by what "generation" they are a part of makes as much sense as characterizing them according to their astrological signs.

    We have a number of students who work in our office -- most in their early to mid twenties. A few of them are hardworking, self-directed, and, yes, curious. They act like responsible adults, and we don't feel like we have to watch over them to make sure their work is getting done. They are more the exception than the rule. I really couldn't say how much of that has to do with the fact that they are young and how much is because they are so-called millennials. I suspect it's much more the former.

  •  "Boomers", "milennials", "Xers", bullshit. (4+ / 0-)

    Tell me what you think, what you do; your birth year is bullshit, for lazy "thinkers".

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 06:15:33 AM PDT

  •  Yes, and it is driving the baby boomers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink, ThatPoshGirl

    'round the bend.  They know they are self-centered twits and fully expect to be treated as such and that scares them. They simply can't imagine that generous people have to give things away. Their long-standing insecurity has caused them to cling on to things.  Who knows why they couldn't count on their parents?  Perhaps that was just the after-effect of World War II. The boozing and smoking that went on in the fifties and sixties was just phenomenal.  It had a perceptible generational effect.  Perhaps the end of the draft and universal suffrage were supposed to serve as a sop to pacify an anxious population.  But rights, once tasted, only lead to demands for more and what was granted grudgingly as a privilege is now considered the norm.

    I still think the election of 2010 is not going to turn out to be the reversal everyone is being led to think. The Tea Party people actually accurately identified Congressional incumbency and sclerotic legislators as a problem.  That the replacements were dolts was not their fault. How were they to know that the candidate recruitment system was rotten to the core?

    Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

    by hannah on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 06:18:08 AM PDT

  •  Millennials Are "Hostile" to Abortion Rights. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There was an NPR program recently profiling millennials and while yes they're progressive across a wide swath of issues, on abortion rights they're [evidently] almost evenly divided.

    The other important factor is that they're obviously very willing to stay home on election day.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 06:36:26 AM PDT

  •  I'm more than willing to cut them slack (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ThatPoshGirl, peptabysmal

    They have been handed the dirty end of the stick.

    Disclaimer: Weapons of Mass Destruction and terrorists may vary according to region, definition, and purpose. Belief systems pandered separately.

    by BlackBandFedora on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 06:50:39 AM PDT

  •  Sadly, they are cannon fodder. Up to 10 years ago, (5+ / 0-)

    I was good for an enthusiasitc speech that life is a marathon and just continually showing up and using a little initiative would get someone ahead. These days are over. I really feel bad that they are stuck with a dysfunctional government and wrecked economy that will only get worse.

    They need and deserve a mile of slack.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 07:22:03 AM PDT

  •  Not sure we need to cut anyone slack (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    based on broad generalizations, but not based on individual characteristics. Go ahead and blame those who do overgeneralize when dishing out blame. You have my blessing.

  •  my parents are old enough to be my grandparents (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm 28; they're 65 and 71.  They're good people but so secure and time-warped that I often question what they really know about the world I live in and how well they're actually able to help me beyond emergency funds.

    They concede they had it easy compared to me, but their advice still just boils down to "work harder and settle for less".  The idea of making things easier and better for ourselves is anathema to them; you have to learn to play the game and trying to change it is cheating or just doomed to failure.  They like to lecture me about passion but the idea of finding value and purpose beyond employment and the foreclosed "American Dream" just doesn't compute.  They think that because I'm young and have no family or mortgage means I should be a risk-taker, while I see myself as climbing a sheer cliff with no ropes or safety net below ... and I've learned not to use that metaphor since it gets them ranting about taxes and "welfare".  They think they're voting for their own parents' Republican Party: Eisenhower and Nixon restrained by a New Deal consensus.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Sun Jul 29, 2012 at 12:40:13 PM PDT

  •  As a millennial I'm not sure I agree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    My generation is obviously very progressive on issues of sexual freedom, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

    I desperately hope I am wrong. But based on my experiences, most millennials, including Democrats and self described liberals, are for the most part content with our economic system. They are angry about college debt and about how difficult it is to find a job, true, but when it comes to the structure of our economy, they are content. Many of them admire Michael Bloomberg, socially liberal, fiscally conservative.

    Whatever that poll might suggest, I think my generation is defined more by apathy than by liberalism when it comes to economic justice. They might not take the malicious delight the tea party takes in the existence of poverty, but neither are they outraged by poverty's existence. They should be. Everyone should be. A just society does not allow human beings to live in filth and misery, struggling to survive.

  •  As a millenial, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I just miss the idea of finding a steady career for the rest of my life. I'm worried I'm looking at a lifetime of living job to job, paycheck to paycheck.

    Adults, fifteen years ago: Be sure to get good grades in school, so you can earn a college degree and find a career so you won't be flipping burgers for a living!

    Adults, today: You entitled little shit. What, just because you went to college you think you're too good to flip burgers for a living?!

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