How Many Trophies Do You Have?: Connecting With Generation Y

I often receive phone calls from parents of adult children in their 20’s and early 30’s looking for counseling for their kids. This group of young adults has yet to define themselves; they are sometimes called Generation Y, Millennials, and Echo Boomers. They are the most educated and least employed generation. When they are employed they tend to switch jobs at a much higher rate. They are sometimes called the Boomerang Generation because they often move in and out of their parents’ home. Another name for them is the Trophy Generation; as children they participated in activities where there were no winners or losers, just trophies for everyone. This generation is the most tech-savy and plugged in group we’ve ever had. Even here in the mountains you will find them at Wi-Fi hotspots texting, IMing, tweeting, and updating their Facebook page, all the while listening to their latest playlist.

Unfortunately for the most part Millennials are not getting very positive press. Baby Boomer parents don’t understand why their children aren’t flourishing with careers and families. “My parents didn’t care about my self-esteem and spanked me. I gave my child every opportunity and constantly made sure she felt good about herself. Why is she stuck at home?” Additionally, the time Generation Yer’s spend on technology is baffling to previous generations that “got by just fine without it.” At this point much of our societal focus is on why Millennials have these characteristics; the economy, the self-esteem movement, and technology have risen to the top of this discussion as the key causes.

But to me the real question is not about cause, but about action. How do we work with Generation Y in this technological, economically depressed, global village? How do we move forward into their world, instead of constantly wishing they’d move back into ours? How do we blend the best of each generation to benefit Generation Z? (Yes, they’re already here and texting in their sleep.) Take time this week to talk with a Millennial and see what their perspective is on the world; you might be surprised.