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The Millenial-Senior Connection

GenY and grandparents share more the just a family connection.  See   for  what  millennials have in common with their grandparents and other seniors. 

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Why Telling Family Tales is Important

Sharing family stories—the good and the bad–helps build bonds across generations: 

campfire

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Negotiating a Family Vacation
with Adult Children

“Experiences, not stuff.”  That’s my sister’s mantra these days.  Spurred by downsizing, she now only buys gifts, from hostess to birthday, that either can be used (a scented candle) or enjoyed (a special restaurant).

hikers

Experience not stuff also seems to be the driving force behind the boom in family travel, says Candyce H. Stapen, a travel expert, who tracks the trend back to the 2008 recession when money became tight.  “So many of us don’t live near parents or adult children and gather only once or twice year for holidays and then there’s so many other distractions.  There’s never enough time. What better way to spend money than on time together as a family?”

The finances of a family vacation depend on location (see our tips for surviving various locals) and luxury level.  Are we considering a cabin rental ?  A family beach house? An all-inclusive resort? A five star hotel?

Planning a family vacation can be like negotiating a peace treaty. As Ms. Stapen says, “There’s all kinds of issues from who pays to adult children taking time off from work.”  Based on her experiences, she offers some advice:

  • Begin with an honest discussion. Tell your children why a vacation is important to you.  It is a special birthday, anniversary or other life event or just time together?  Then be specific about what you can and can’t do financially: “I can pay the lodging but I can’t pay for meals.”
  •  Negotiate:  Provide several options in terms of locales and prices to reach an agreement. It may mean some back and forth but it’s important to work it out ahead of time.  You don’t want to be arguing about money while on vacation.
  •  Consider the finances of your adult children to minimize bad feelings: Siblings often have different disposable incomes.   The family dynamic is not going to change just because you are going on vacation together.  Find a middle ground.
  •  Think all-inclusive: Paying upfront means that everyone knows well in advance what the tally will be. All-inclusive trips range from resorts to safaris to cruises.
  •  Think regionally: While your dream may be Hawaii, it’s less expensive and time consuming to go to the Caribbean resort if you live on the East Coast.  Think Arizona for the Mid West.
  •  Consider segmenting the family: Maybe Dad wants to go fishing with his “boys.”  Why not let the guys head to a mountain lake and the rest of the family plan another trip.

Over the years when my three children were growing up, my father paid for me and one or two of our children to go with him on his annual August trip “home” to Ireland.  The children took turns, depending on age and activity (football practice starts in August!) going on the 10-day vacation.  To this day, they reminisce about staying on a farm and Granddad’s antics. And it’s one of my best memories too of time spent with my Dad.  An experience to never forget!

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Bragging Rites

For a look at  why we brag about our adult children and some suggestions for the right way to do it, please visit us at Parenting 2.0

 

 

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Five Steps for Coping with Boomerang Kids

Boomerang-300x181The college commencements of May are now a happy memory and June brings a reality check. Thanks to daunting loans, a recovering economy and a rapidly changing work world, thousands of new grads have returned home and reclaimed their bedrooms.   They have even an official title: boomerang kids.

Now the challenge for parents is how to deal with the  home invasion. Over the last few years, dozens of books and articles have been written giving advice from tough love (make them sign a contract setting a date for departure) to more understanding (encourage career exploration).

We present a strategy that has worked for some baby boomer parents who have been there, done that…and survived:  Five steps, some harder than others:

  • Devise a game plan:  Forget the written contract (a bit hostile); rather have a discussion of goals and how to attain them. Ask your child to write down a plan for achieving those goals with a checklist of specific steps. Revisit the plan monthly—at a set date like the first Monday—to make adjustments and note accomplishments. Let your child conduct the job search and coach from the sidelines with names of contacts and occasional suggestions.
  • Encourage sweat equity:  Ask your child to help around the house with both regular chores (grocery shopping, making dinner, dog walking) and those long-delayed projects (cleaning the attic, scanning all those old photos).
  • Negotiate lifestyle: The living arrangement is less parent-child and more roommates. Discuss what drives you crazy from dirty towels on the floor to texting at the table to endless reality TV. Put the pet peeves out there and try to reach some reasonable accommodations, on both sides.  Example: I agreed not to nag my boomerang daughter about getting household chores and errands done as long as she wrote up a list and had it done by a specified time.
  • Encourage an exit strategy: Once your child gets a job then charge what I called a “resort fee” which sounds much nice than “rent.” It’s up to you whether to pocket it or save it to return when they need the money to start up their own place.
  • Enjoy the time: Unless they’re total slackers, they’ll get a job, move out, and you’ll miss them, although not the Kardashians.

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What do you want for Mother’s Day?

Mothers Day Flowers-2011.jpg1We asked that question last week and got an array of answers. The most compelling was from Lauri Leadley, an Arizona mom and cancer survivor. Thank you all and enjoy the day wherever your children may be!

Lauri Leadley 

I have 3 adult children who at times have lived in 3 different counties with up to 8500 miles between us.

My favorite gift they could ever give me on Mother’s Day is time. This might be a FaceTime or Skype call but even a text message has had to replace a card or a gift.

I think the greatest Mother’s Day gift of all is just plain being a mother. Having cancer, I never thought I’d see my now 26-year-old daughter go to kindergarten but I now have received the gift of being a grandmother.

My oldest son who was in the Navy overseas once wrote my youngest son, “You go to church and you sit by mom and you hold her hand. I would give anything to do that now.” I’ve spent many Mother’s Day without gifts and without my children present but in my heart I hold all my precious memories as gifts.

A book club friend:

We celebrate all the women in our family, whether moms or not, and everyone brings an inexpensive gift–pot of flowers, a nice smelling soap, a piece of costume jewelry, or a pair of funky socks or garden gloves.

Also on Mothers Day, about an hour before I expect people to arrive at my house, my husband will ask me to draw the map to the Estee Lauder counter at Lord and Taylor. He always comes back with it all wrapped up in a pretty basket. It is a win win for me! He just spent the $350 that I was going to spend anyway stocking up on my favorite White Linen products!

A sister who provides services for mental disabilities:

The best thing way to honor our mothers is to spend time with each other. My adult children and my husband and I are walking in the National Association of Mental Illness Day on Saturday from South Street Seaport over the Brooklyn Bridge and back. So that will be my gift: to walk with my family honoring the people we serve to help build a better life for them.

From April Masini at www.AskApril.com

If your mother has passed away, Mother’s Day can be particularly harrowing. Instead of staying in the house and feeling sad, use the day to visit her grave, leave flowers or a poem, and have others who are dear to you, and were to her, meet you for a picnic graveside, or elsewhere, after. She’s still your mother, wherever she is or isn’t.

An acquaintance:

I know what to do as a daughter, but not sure what I want as a mother. When my kids don’t pay attention, I am upset. I guess I want something. But not sure what. Surprise me….

A neighbor:

Flowers, a hug, and a kiss!

And from a friend, and thank you for your honesty:

I would just like Mother’s Day to be MY Mother’s Day…not my mother’s day. My 90-year-old mother and Queen Elizabeth have a lot in common. Neither is ceding the throne. My mother’s children (all in their 60s) and grandchildren are all expected to drop all other commitments to wine, dine and gift her on Mother’s Day. To hell with the moms; it’s all about her! I’d like dinner at a nice restaurant with just my husband and son.

 

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Millenials Don’t Trust Politicians

no politicsEvery Election Day for the last few years, I’ve sent my undergrad students out to polling places around Manhattan to report a “vox-pop” survey, asking local residents why they voted for various candidates.  The assignment is part of a class called “Covering Gen Y” where journalism undergrads study and write about millennial issues.

After the assignment, we always discuss the students’ own attitudes towards politics, and in a word, it’s  negative.  My informal class poll was reflected in a national survey released this week by the Harvard Institute of Politics

The 25th annual survey of political opinions of 18 to 25 year olds found deep cynicism toward the political process. That attitude keeps millenials away from polling places as less than a quarter planned to vote in mid-term elections this November. The Harvard poll also found that millenials think elected official don’t share their priorities and seem motivated by selfish reasons.

Those results echoed the class discussions.  The attitude of the students can be summed up as “What’s the point of politics? Nothing is ever going to change.” I asked if any student would consider running for public office and the class laughed. “Why would I want to be a cog in a political machine?” said one student. [click to continue…]

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The Baby Whisperer Offers
Advice for Adult Children

helpful-tipsExcept for the left over matzos and chocolate bunnies, the holidays are just happy memories, or so we hope.  Sometimes these family gatherings turn into The Clash of the Titans with parents and adult children butting heads over everything from who’s going where to what’s on the menu.

A new book, “Family Whispering,” offers some perspective that can help us reframe these situations.  Melinda Blau, the author, is a familiar name to many of us who used (or bought as gifts) the “Baby Whisperer” series that she co-wrote with the late Tracy Hogg, a renowned nanny.  (Their smart advice for new moms was to focus baby care on EASY: eat, activity, sleep, you.  Actually not a bad prescription for adult life too! )

We talked to Ms. Blau last week about the new book which, while aimed at younger parents, offers some excellent advice for recovering helicopter parents too. “Family whispering is fundamentally about nudging the parenting pendulum away from child focus to family focus,” she said.  To do that, consider the three factors that make each family unique:

  • The individuals and what each person brings to the table.
  • The relationships and how they relate to one another.  For example, in a family of four—two parents and two children—there are six different relationships; all are important.
  • The context what each family member must deal with on a day-to-day basis

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Skipping the Church Ceremony

Spring is here,
the sky is blue.
Whoa! the birds all sing as if they knew.
Today’s the day, we’ll say, “I do”
and we’ll never be lonely anymore.
 
Because we’re going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.
Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.
Gee, I really love you and we’re gonna get married.
Going to the chapel of love.
 

 Maybe it’s the spring weather (finally) but Bette Midler’s version of this song has been echoing as we read the latest Pew survey on young adults. As noted in our AARP blog post last week, marriage is not high on millennials’ punch list of life achievements.  And when they do get married, the officiant is more likely to be a friend who is “ordained” for the day rather than a rabbi, priest, minister or any other cleric. That same Pew report found that almost 30 percent of millennials are not affiliated with any religion, the highest levels of religious disaffiliation recorded for any generation by Pew.

Parents can be hurt and disappointed when an engaged couple announces that the wedding will be decidedly secular, not connected with the religion in which they were raised. “We believe in freedom of religion in America until it comes to our children,” says author Dr. Ruth Nemzoff with a laugh. [click to continue…]

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Do Millennials Need to Share Everything?

Going-Viral-Banner

At age 29, I was about to quit my writing job for the greener pastures of motherhood and freelancing (little did I know).  Along with handing in my resignation, I wanted to tell my boss exactly what I thought of his autocratic management style.  (I survived the job because of two co-workers, one of whom remains my best friend.)   Fortunately, I often commuted with a wise “older” woman, the mother of two successful adult children.  When I told her about my planned parting salvo, she urged me to resist, explaining, “The first six months and the last six months of any job should be your best so you wow them when you go in and make them sorry to see you leave. Also you never know when you need a reference!”

I heeded her advice and over the years passed it on to my children and my students.   However, I fear that social media have made that advice obsolete as evidenced by two recent viral videos posted by millennials, one seeking work and the other quitting.  The videos prove to be cautionary tales, not only to pass along to our adult children, but also for we Baby Boomers who must navigate carefully through a changing workplace populated by millennials with a compelling need to share everything online.

We all are aware the privacy is fast disappearing, from Big Brother NSA to Facebook posts.  But is nothing private?  The job-seeker tale begins with Diana Mekota, a 26-year-old planning to move to Cleveland, who wanted to access a local online jobs bank run by marketing professional Kelly Blazek.  She contacted Ms. Blazek via LinkedIn, receiving in reply what CNN called a “verbal smack down.”

“Your invite to connect is inappropriate, beneficial only to you, and tacky,”Ms.  Blazek wrote.  “Wow, I cannot wait to let every 26-year-old jobseeker mine my top-tier marketing connections to help them land a job.”

Yikes! Perhaps Baby Boomer Blazek was having a really bad day.  Obviously there were better ways to handle the request, even ignoring it. The plot thickens when Ms. Mekota did not take the rejection quietly.   In true millennial style, she posted the email on an online message board where it quickly went viral on Reddit and Buzzfeed. Ms. Blazek has apologized and has since deleted her social media sites, learning the lesson that when it comes to GenY never to put in an email anything you wouldn’t want shared.

The internet buzzed with reaction, and while most commenters agreed that a LinkedIn request did not warrant such a rejection, others questioned whether the resulting post was a smart move by a job seeker.  In a CNN interview, Marian Salzman, the CEO of Havas PR,  applauded Ms. Mekota’s initiative in trying to make a job connection but not her next move, saying, “Once the rejection got posted it made me very nervous. …Just let it go, not let’s share it with the whole world and turn it into a cause celeb.”

Sharing online is a standard practice for a generation that lives in cyberspace, and the truly savvy millennial knows how to make cyberspace work for her as evidenced by 20-something Marina Shrifrin.  Last fall, she announced that she was quitting her job in a video that went viral and garnered more than 11 million views. [click to continue…]

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