The M Word.

I work with millennials every day. Yes, they quite often drive me crazy. However, I think it’s time we give millennials a break. After all, aren’t they just a product of the prosperity that the generation before them enjoyed? They have the luxury of pursuing their futures (sports, education, arts, etc.) at the expense of not learning how to grind through the daily minutia of life: chores, summer jobs, paper routes, etc.

Is that their fault? If nobody asked them to get a job or nobody asked them to do chores, can we really blame them for not having those skills or ambitions? They live in a world where they’re told they need a college education to succeed, but the world they live in is increasingly more competitive and a college degree is more expensive; and for the most part the salary that follows isn’t proportionate to inflation.

Ask any parent today and they’ll tell you how competitive the world is. They want their child to benefit from every advantage they can. The question is how are millennials supposed to learn the appreciation of their advantages and opportunities if they don’t experience the labors of life?

How can we expect millennials to be loyal when they’ve seen the loyalty of previous generations not get rewarded, but instead get laid off? And… how can we lump all millennials in the same category when nobody in a previous generation would appreciate being squeezed through a single pigeonhole … except for perhaps the “Greatest Generation.” (I’d love to be lumped in with them.)

Perhaps the fact that millennials don’t stick with anything is a healthy adaptation to the environment they live. Within their lifetime TVs have gone flat, computers have gone mobile and lightbulbs have gotten smart. In the coming years cars will drive themselves and the mail will get delivered by flying robots.

It might be sad to consider that with automated cars the next generation will never go through that right of passage of getting a driver’s license and driving to school on their 16th birthday. However, we shouldn’t forget that previous generations experienced life struggles that we never had to take into consideration, such as a young boy’s first hunt for food.

I say, let’s give millennials a break and accept that they live in a different time, culture and place than any previous generation—and that can be a good thing. What we do need to do is consider how can we best prepare them for the world they’re entering and what skills they will need because life is still demanding.

So as I tell my millennial student-athletes, “Go get a job.” A job is more than a paycheck. A job offers lessons that are earned and learned through communicating with bosses and customers; clients and vendors. A job provides an education beyond the curriculum of the classroom and sports field. A job delivers hard truths that being the best isn’t always rewarded with a spot atop the podium. Life isn’t always fair and a job helps provide that insight. Most of all, a job can offer us a sense of pride… especially when we take pride in a Job well done.

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12 Comments on "The M Word."

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Well said Miss Val. There are many teens that now have so much school work, and so much pressure to do extracurricular activities they MUST DO to get into college they can’t get jobs. In UK there’s such a crackdown on not paying minimum wage, insurance, forcing kids to stay in school that you can’t get a job until you are above school leaving age of 16. I am *just* a millennial (I think I was born the year of the cut off point!) but having had been pushed through the route where I did all the “right” things –… Read more »
I was literally writing about this very concept a few months ago during a random free write (sometimes I write to mull things over in my mind). I completely agree with you that we should give millennials a break. I get so frustrated when people rag on millennials and call them special snowflakes. I just read recently that I am part of a micro generation that is made of people born between 1977 and 1983 called Xennials. It’s a hybrid of generation X and millennials. I find that I identify with some aspects of more than one generation. I also… Read more »
Kim Dykes Keahler
Hi Val! Well I am supremely loving of millenials – I gave birth to 5 of them! And at work these days we are adjusting to a very generationally diverse workplace – so I weigh in with this : not all millenials listened to those voices, instead they decided to work hard and compete and succeed. 3/5 of my millenials volunteered to go to war for our freedom and safety. One played D1 QB football and the other was a Big time SF ad “man” (cause she’s a girl) I see every day millenials who look at their immediate elders… Read more »

Hi Kim. I agree with you. My millennial cousins, nieces, and nephews have a work ethic that can rival anyone’s. And it sounds like the same can be said for your kids.
And please tell your three kids I said thank you their service. It is much appreciated and respected!


I would give them a lot of latitude if they weren’t looking to shut down free speech and to demand safe places from ideas that are different, as if they are so special

Had a school administer tell me that wearing a Trump hate was disrespectful to the students in the high school

My response, friends and family shed blood and lives so that they could be where they are, the respect that they are seeking has to be earned, and they have earned nothing.

I remember when I was young my parents used to tell me how they would have chores that had to be done before school (where they had to walk X number of miles in snow, uphill, with no shoes), my dad was picking cotton as a young child because the depression wasn’t quite over, they had it much harder than I did. It was a bit of a dichotomy. They would remind me how far they had to walk to school as children. My elementary school was only a few blocks away but I wasn’t allowed to walk, even with… Read more »
Elizabeth Rosendorf
I’ve never thought millennials were that different but then I’m just barely outside the millennial generation so maybe I see things differently. It’s been my impression that it’s much harder for teenagers to get a part-time job now than it was in the mid to late 90s when it was easy for me to get a lifeguarding position. There’s just less opportunity out there. Anyway doesn’t everyone always think the newest generation is slacking đŸ˜‰? Lots of my friends are official millennials (since I’m just over the line) and they’re doing amazing things-speaking multiple languages, traveling the world, taking on… Read more »