Hey Kid: Millenials

This is how Time magazine's Josh Sanburn introduces the cover story on The Millennial Generation: "Here are some broad descriptions about the generation known as Millennials: They’re narcissistic. They’re lazy. They’re coddled. They’re even a bit delusional.

Those aren’t just unfounded negative stereotypes about 80 million Americans born roughly between 1980 and 2000. They’re backed up by a decade of sociological research. The National Institutes of Health found that for people in their 20s, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is three times as high than the generation that’s 65 or older. In 1992, 80 percent of people under 23 wanted to one day have a job with greater responsibility; ten years later, 60 percent did. Millennials received so many participation trophies growing up that 40 percent of them think they should be promoted every two years – regardless of performance. They’re so hopeful about the future you might think they hadn’t heard of something called the Great Recession.

But that’s merely one way of looking at the largest and most important generation since the Baby Boomers. In this week’s cover story, TIME’s Joel Stein — who has a few Millennial traits himself — examines the overwhelming negative data about Millennials and argues that rather than being inherently self-centered or overconfident, millennials are just adapting quickly to a world undergoing rapid technological change. They’re optimistic, they’re confident and they’re pragmatic at a time when it can be difficult just to get by. Those aren’t bad qualities to have, even if it means they spend too much time on their phones."

Why does it matter? Because these people are your parents.

Every generation is raised in a vastly different environment than the one before. My upbringing was very different than my parents and my children's experience has been different from mine. The world they grew up in will not be the same when you come along either. It's just the way it goes. It doesn't mean its bad, or worse, just different. And it's important to understand where people are coming from. Our experience shapes our personalities and ultimately our behavior.

Like any animal, we adapt to our environment. To understand us is to understand the world in which we live.

But be wary of generalizations and stereotypes. While that opening statement might describe the group in general, it certainly does not define my children. Not in the least. They are anything but lazy, coddled or delusional. There are exceptions and your parents are just two examples.

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