Laura 'Bedrock' Bedrossian is one of Peppercom's brightest
and hardest-working employees. Recently named a runner-up in PR Week's
prestigious and hotly contested 'Young PR Professional of the Year'
competition, Bedrock has graciously agreed to author today's guest blog.
The millennial generation has been under fire for some time,
especially in the past year or so. I frequently see articles and reports
popping up with ridiculous “reasons” for why my generation “is the way it is.”
I was alerted to an article in The Wall
Street Journal titled: “Delayed
Development: 20-Somethings Blame the Brain” (special thanks to Steve Cody
and Ann Barlow for sending it my way). This article was no different in terms
of the tone.
The piece begins by pointing out that many parents of the
millennial generation are worried that their respective children don’t have a
career, aren’t married and/or aren’t financial independent—to name a few issues.
According to the article, this is all OK because recent
research suggests that the brain develops at a pace that makes people better
equipped to make major life decisions in their late 20s rather than earlier in their
Great? From this millennial’s perspective, absolutely not.
First, this seems like another excuse to explain and project
a behavior of a small group upon an entire generation. This can’t be too
drastic of a development in the brain, otherwise I would think groups should
probably start lobbying to raise the legal age of adulthood. Why position it as
the reason for why millennials “act the way they do”?
Second, for those who do exhibit any irresponsible behavior,
hopefully the millennials parents’ minds are not at ease because this research is
just an easy way to justify poor choices. And guess what, Mom and Dad, those
poor choices are coming from you too—it’s called enabling.
On a base level, this research is very interesting and makes
a tremendous amount of sense, especially in terms of how the average age people
are marrying has risen by six years. However, (and, full disclosure: I am not a
scientist) it sounds like this is how the brain has been developing since the
dawn of man?
So, we’re better equipped to make bigger decisions in our
late-20s? Why is it that all of the previous generations have been capable of
functioning without having full-scale investigations launched to figure out why
they aren’t “successful”?
This article and ones like it stereotype millennials to seem
like we are all dysfunctional humans unfit for this world. I’m not sure where
all of these examples are coming from; I know plenty of younger people with
“underdeveloped brains” who have not been financially dependent on their
parents for some time (myself included).
Of course, when I hear some of the examples people have
about their freeloading kids, I have the same natural reaction and tone of the
authors of said articles—I am incensed. But I think there is a larger issue at
Let’s discuss the group of millennials giving the entire
generation the bad name. It is safe to say that parents from an early age want
to make sure their child has the best life possible—which includes college. But
what are parents really telling their kids? Are they letting their kids know
that while college is important, it is still equally as important to pay for
said education and also be a functional member of society? Education can become
very expensive, very quickly. Why can’t a kid take a gap year and start saving
to pay for school? Why can’t they take part-time classes while working to help
make school more affordable? Also there is nothing wrong with delaying or not
even attending college. I was always told there is nothing wrong with hard
honest work, and to be honest, it’s made me who I am today.
Clearly, some parents choose to coddle their kids by
allowing them to stay financially dependent for them to focus on their studies.
At that point, is the millennial to be fully blamed? Those who act entitled had
to learn that they are entitled from someone.
We are a smart and resourceful generation. We seem
drastically different because we are dealing with a very different world—a
world and economy that our predecessors created for us. We work hard. For those of us who do not,
guess what, there are people who are lazy in every generation.
To circle back on the article, I myself am in my late-20s
and I made very big decisions in my life starting at age 18 up until now. My
brain may not have been fully developed yet, but I still made those decisions
and used research and advice from those who have been in similar situations and
made the best choices. I am still standing and have been on my own two feet for
some time and I certainly did it on my own. I speak on behalf of all millennials
as I say “pick on someone your own age!”