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Mom's Created a Monster?

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The millenials, a new generation born between 1980 and 1995, are entering the workforce and changing the rules of corporate America, whether you like it or not.

60 Minutes piece that was rebroadcast on Sunday really got us thinking about how the way we parent will affect our own kids' futures. It examined the millennial generation--a breed of workers who've never been told no and have grown up thinking they should be rewarded just for showing up. Today's college graduates won't settle and refuse to put their career above friends and quality of life.


Millennials expert Vanessa Van Petten, herself a member of this generation, says "tea cup parenting" is partly to blame. "So many parents today treat their children like we're delicate tea cups that can only be hand-washed and handled with absolute care," says the author of You're Grounded: How to Stop Fighting and Make the Teenage Years Easier. "But once we get out in the real world, we crumble the first time something doesn't go our way."

Momlogic also spoke with millennials expert and mom of three Bea Fields, author of Millennial Leaders: Success Stories from Today's Most Brilliant Generation Y Leaders, for her insight.

momlogic: Why are the millennials the way they are? Are moms to blame?
Bea Fields: In the early '90s, as a society, we went into a big self-esteem movement. All of the parenting books at the time suggested raising kids with a huge emphasis on praise and self-esteem. Boosting kids' confidence was our number one goal.

Moms did the best we could with the information we were given, but by sending kids the message that they would be number one all the time, we set up an expectation that life would always be that way. School and sports followed suit -- everyone got a blue ribbon, everyone got a trophy just for participating. There was much less emphasis placed on competition or winners and losers. But that attitude hasn't trickled down to the workplace, and that's where millennialls are getting into trouble. Many of them come in expecting a corner office and very high salary, but don't want to pay their dues to get there.

momlogic: What can moms of millennials do now to help?
Bea Fields: They need to step back. The helicopter parenting is crossing over into the workplace now. I've heard many instances of parents going to job interviews with their grown child, and then contacting human resources to negotiate contracts, or even to give HR an earful if their kid didn't get the job. This is popping up a lot. Parents need to take a step back and let their kids fight their own battles.

momlogic: What can moms of younger kids do now to make sure their kids don't act like this later?
Bea Fields: Moms should start kids early on chores and working for pay. But don't be too generous with the allowance. They should be paid basically minimum wage, because that's what they'll be getting once they do enter the workforce. By continuing to give kids things without them having to work for it, we're sending them the message that there's a goldmine back at home they can always tap into, so what's the point of working or paying their dues? Encourage manual labor, like yardwork and washing cars. This reinforces the lesson that not everything is easy. Once kids hit driving age, I strongly recommend they be expected to have a job outside the home. Volunteer work is also good, because it takes the emphasis off them and puts it onto another person. Finally, teaching your child practical skills like how to network with older people will help them once they hit the real world. Because they're so Internet-savvy, many kids are uncomfortable with face-to-face interactions that come so easily to our generation.

Attention, moms of millennials: Do you think the 60 Minutes piece was right on, or was it total BS?

next: Moms Are Talking About...
9 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous May 28, 2008, 2:00 PM

The entire generation acts like they’re entitled. It’s evident in the workplace when gen X stays as late as necessary and the kids are looking to punch out at 5.

D August 13, 2008, 5:00 PM

What’s wrong with, wellll, wanting to have a good life, without dedicating it to some person making tons of money off your labor?
I mean, f@#% the man, I worked a full time, manufacturing job before, and it’s bullshit. Why should you spend all your time, your whole life working for somebody, cut off from society, and really not getting to know you, just for money?
If you’re that superficial, then put the time in, if not, who cares if you’re not driving a Mercedes, or, well… I guess even a Cobalt is expensive for us in the middle class now-a-days. But screw it, if you get to interact with other human beings that you enjoy being around, and get to live your life, on your own time, then you’re living your life for you, and not for money.
The only time this ‘laziness’ is a problem is when they won’t even do things for themselves on a day to day basis, or do things period… then you have a pot head, or just really lazy situation that is bad but otherwise:
So, thanks mom’s if you are responsible, because honestly, you taught us how to live!

Anonymous August 27, 2008, 8:19 AM

Gen ID = generation I deserve it. Lazy little SOB’s Gonna be real hard for you twits when the real downturn hits us.

JillR. September 12, 2008, 10:09 PM

What’s wrong with every kid on a team getting a little trophy for participating if the kids who are, say, MVP’s, get bigger trophies?

LLJ September 26, 2008, 10:44 AM

I think the article is right about what both millenials and employers are facing, but I don’t think the millenials and their parents are going to change.

I think any company that wants to find and retain workers - (and what company can make profits without workers?) - is going to have to accept the fact that the work ethic has changed and the concept of paying dues is for “old people” (like me) and adapt with things like flexible work schedules and managers capable of offering guidance and growth to employees - like they should have been doing for the last few decades anyway. Or - companies could only hire older workers if they only want the old work ethic - but what would happen then as workers my age get ready to retire?

Marcella September 29, 2008, 12:16 PM

I have mixed thoughts about this. (I am a millenial.) I agree that helicopter parenting is out of control. A mom calling HR or going to a job interview? That is hilarious but also very scary. Do these people have no pride? I know that sounds very harsh, but really.

I am an educator, and I think the emphasis on “everyone being a winner” is a little much. I think making sure that kids don’t feel like “losers” just because they don’t win is good though. I think adults should focus on helping children find where they excel rather than devaluing the achievements of children who do excel by acting like everyone is equally great at everything.

On the other hand, I had a conversation about this issue with some older friends, and I understood their concerns but also felt like they were more scandalized by this than the situation warrants. Of course the nature of business is going to change a bit as each new generation enters the workforce. Expecting things to be handed to you without work is not good, but knowing how to negociate for what you want is not so bad. Rushing to leave work and not get the job done is not good, but balancing work with the rest of your life is not bad at all!

I agree that parents need to teach personal responsibility to their children, but I would urge all parents NOT TO LOSE THE SELF-ESTEEM PART EITHER. I’d guess a large reason behind this trend among millenial parents is because there was some of that missing in their own childhoods. It’s all about balance. I think the suggestions at the bottom of the article reflect are terrific for working to achieve this balance.

debzville October 1, 2008, 3:19 PM

Too many cooks in the kitchen. Too many books to TELL us how to be parents, and not enough natural parenting. I know that kids do not come with a manual, but we have also “booked away” common sense. Boosting self esteem and praising a job well done is great, but it HAS to be balanced with healthy discipline and structure.

Ben Theyre December 17, 2008, 8:16 AM

thanks to my parents for encouraging me to work as hard as was needed to get the things in life that i wanted. that act alone provided the confidence necessary to survive, and yes, to prevail in a society that treasures and rewards real accomplishment. receiving satisfaction for “a job well done” cannot be given to anyone. but it sure smells sweet to those who earn it.

Golf September 14, 2010, 10:35 AM

In related news, Gatorade recently terminated its sponsorship agreement with Tiger Woods along with dropping the motto, “Is it in you?” Nike will keep Tiger as a spokesman and stay with the slogan, “Just do it.”

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