When I was having my children, I was determined not to have a generation gap. I was determined to share as much as I possibly could with them – their world was my world and vice versa, or so I thought. With my parents the difference was so obvious – the music, the openness of thought, the freedom of action. Women were now coming into their own and surprisingly, in my family, very much encouraged by my father, well to some extent anyway, once we did not stray too far from the norm. My dad wanted only the best for his children and he gave into their wishes, with reservation, knowing he was backed by the copious prayers of my mother. So really what could go wrong?
So with my boys, I was determined that there would be no such gap. I would make sure that there was freedom of speech, thought and action – of course within the realm of respect, honesty and integrity. We liked the same music, we enjoyed the same activities and we told them they could be whatever they wanted to be. We encouraged freedom of thought and spirit. We holidayed together until they were in their teens and even now in their twenties, we enjoy spending time together doing what we love best – exploring the outdoors.
Then they became adults. And started doing what we brought them up to do. Thinking on their own, making their own decisions, in a world that was remarkably different from the world in which I grew up – one where technology had changed every aspect of our lives, right in front of our eyes. Without even knowing it, our boys were growing up in an era that we would find difficult to understand. We would certainly pretend to belong, but the truth is that we have been tainted by the past and, like a tattoo, we cannot erase what’s ingrained in us.
As my eldest son once said while I thought I was imparting some much needed advice – “Mom your model of success is not my model of success.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I was thinking we were on the same page, but my word, I wasn’t even reading the same book. I wasn’t even in the same library.
So what do you do? Well you take a deep breath. You step back. You let them be, as best as you can. And you observe. You learn. It’s really the only thing you can do. And I’ve been observing and learning for some time now. And you know what? Secretly, I admire the Millennials.
I admire their freedom of spirit. I admire their self confidence, their courage. And, quite frankly I love being around them. Both at home and in the work place. They bring a new way of thinking to your otherwise mundane life. They have energy. They open doors where there weren’t any. And if you let them, they bring you along with them. They teach you everything they know, because they are on a path that you could never keep up with. They don’t want your job. They don’t even want your life. They have other plans. The life you hope to have when you retire, they are living now.
The Millennials. We would do well to keep them close. For we can learn a lot from them.