Millennials – you’ve heard all about their shenanigans. You’ve likely seen the memes on social media. We see the posts, watch the videos, like, comment, and share the stories – all of which have convinced us that the next generation has no hope of making any rational decisions, holding down any jobs, or raising a family any of us can be proud of. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of participating. I’ve been wrong and here’s why.
Here is the Google definition of “Millennial.”
“Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the generational demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years.“
According to the definition above, I’ve raised three millennials. None of them fit the profile we’ve been so eager to attach to their generation. My son, age 24, wears a bullet proof vest to work. He is a sheriff’s deputy in our county. When he could be spending his weekends doing other things, he has chosen to spend one weekend per month serving his country in the Army National Guard (and longer drills and deployments). He wears two uniforms of honor and he’s in those uniforms more often than not. At age 21, he married and bought his own house. You know what? Not once has he ever asked us to help support them financially. He’s a man who takes care of himself and his wife. My daughter-in-law is an amazing young woman who loves my son. She holds down two jobs. She works at a kennel where she is passionate about taking care of animals. She also works in youth ministry at her church. I have two daughters. The first one is 22. She works full time. She goes to school full time . She honorably holds a leadership position in her sorority (a big shout out to Alpha Gamma Delta). She rarely misses church. She works her tail off and she does it with more grace and success than I ever could have. She will graduate this summer with a degree in Psychology. My youngest daughter is 19. She holds down a good job while going to school full time. She’s active in Baptist Collegiate Ministries. She has already been on one mission trip and she is now preparing for another. She never misses church and she’s passionate about sharing the gospel around the world. She is also working on her degree in Psychology. All of my children behave responsibly, pay their own way, and take care of themselves. Most importantly, they all love Jesus and they have honored their father and their mother as the scriptures teach them to do. I am honored to be THEIR mother.
Honor your father and your mother which is the first commandment with a promise. – Ephesians 6:2
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. – Exodus 20:12
As a long time teacher and child care provider, I now have millennials bringing their children to me. Every day, I witness millennials entering marriages and parenthood with honor. These young mothers and fathers are caring for their households and doing it well.
This past weekend, I had the honor of serving an entire company of National Guardsmen who had returned from 4 days of training. I watched them unload battle gear, clean weapons, execute commands, follow orders, and express gratitude with the polite manners their parents had poured into them while they were growing up. I looked around the room and noted their ages. Many of them, if not most, are millennials preparing to march on foreign soils, witness atrocities, and face dangers that would make most of us shudder with fear.
Have you looked around lately? Recently, I recognized the young girl at the pharmacy who is trusted to handle medications as a student I once taught, a millennial.
Before my trip to the pharmacy, I visited an Urgent Care Center. The nurses who cared for me were millennials. They treated me with a competence and respect that far exceeded some past experiences with older non-millennials.
The soldier going to war, the pilots flying our planes, the doctors and nurses caring for us and our families, the police officers and firemen (and others) who put their lives on the line every day, the young representatives and senators who represent my values, young pastors, youth leaders like my daughter-in-law, missionaries around the world, the veterinarians who care for our pets, the factory workers, farmers, teachers of our children, and so many other important and vital positions that we depend on every day – millennials are beginning to fill all these roles and they are doing it well.
That National Guard company I mentioned? There is a group of ladies who make up a group called the Family Readiness Group. I’ve been part of that group for several years. A while back, our FRG Chair unexpectedly passed away. Soon after that, several others moved away. I was the only one left. Although I never left my position, I declined to take the chair position because I didn’t have enough confidence in my abilities to rebuild what we had lost. As a result, our Soldiers were without our support for way too long. A few months ago, we met again and made an effort to rebuild an FRG that our Soldiers can depend on. A millennial stepped up to the plate and she’s rockin’ it. I moved to the position as Treasurer which requires a Co-Treasurer. My Co-Treasurer is a millennial and I have complete confidence in her ability to do the job. It is an honor to serve with these lady millennials.
All of the millennials above make me proud.
Here’s another thought. Are we doing our own generation justice when we choose to focus on the handful who participate in the Tide Pod Challenge? After all, we raised them.
Not all millennials eat laundry detergent, wear pajama pants to job interviews, lay on their parents couches all day, show disrespect to every older adult they meet, and who knows what else.
I know that my four adult children don’t appreciate being grouped into one big category we’ve come to know as a dysfunctional millennial generation. I’m seeing the same frustration from others who grace the world around me.
They deserve better. They deserve our respect. They’ve already earned it.
Instead of allowing the reputation of a few to determine the worth of the whole, I’m going to turn my attention to the hundreds and thousands of young adults who are doing it right. I owe it to them. If we rally them on as we pass the torch to them, maybe the “slackers” will realize their true potential and step up with the rest. Giving them the encouragement and support they deserve will challenge them to rise up and make this world a place where we non-millennials can grow old with grace, knowing that those who will be here to raise the next generations long after we are gone have got it.
To my millennial friends who are rockin’ adulthood, I salute you. You’ve got this! Keep up the good fight!
The best advice I can give you to encourage you along the way is found in scripture.
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe. – 1 Timothy 4:12
Resources for Encouraging Millennials to Keep the Faith
Now go change the world one soul at a time.