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Weekly Reader 5.3.10

All the posts on the Weekly Reader are about  Gen Y—our young adults aged 18-30—because the Internet is brimming with stories, reports, comments, and complaints about our adult children.  Two notable pieces:

Gen Y: Where Did They Come From?

 Gen Y apparently continues to puzzle both parents and  the other adults who work with them, teach them, and hang out with them!  In an effort to demystify this generation, Gen Y journalist Nadira A. Hira described “three formative factors” in a recent talk.  

 Hira, a Fortune magazine reporter, wrote “Attracting the Twentysomething Worker” in 2007 that explained what Gen Y wants from their bosses.  She shared her insights recently at a Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship conference.

 The formative  factors that future bosses need to understand to work effectively with Gen Y, as described in the conference blog:

Parents – Over indulgent, over involved parents created kids with over the top, off the chart expectations, she said. “The reality is this is as much about our parents as it is about us,” said Hira, who described boomers as the original self-absorbed generation. “We learned this behavior from you.”

Technology and media there is a “uniformity of perspective” to Generation Y brought on by technology.  It allows attitudes to permeate all 80 million Gen Yers in days.

It’s also responsible for Generation Y thinking differently about work. While boomers connect work with showing up in a physical space for a fixed time, for Gen Yers work can happen at 3 in the morning with a laptop while watching TV, Hira said. They are goal and task oriented, not tied to schedule or place.

The world Yers grew up in Hira believes this is the factor that has had the most impact because it has made this generation “so used to instability and so incredibly distrustful.” Pointing to the 9/11 attacks, Katrina and Columbine as just some of the reasons, Hira said Generation Y learned that danger is immediate and completely unpredictable. They’ve seen parents and friends get laid off and trust put in organizations and institutions that simply did not earn it or deserve it. Unlike their parents, Gen Yers don’t plan to wait until 65 to live their best life only to find the future they invested for is gone. “They’ve learned it isn’t worthwhile to wait,” Hira said, and are striving to have that best life now.

Gen Y:  More Like Great Grandparents than Parents

Yes, another study proves the Geny Y is delaying adulthood, this time in a way not seen for a century.  “What’s Going on with Young People Today? The Long and Twisting Path to Adulthood” finds that Gen Y has a lot more in common with their great grandparents than with their Baby boomer parents. In the early 1900s young adults were much more likely to live at home until they were financially self-supporting and ready to move out and get married. One big difference: at the turn of the 20th century young adults actually contributed to the family income.  In the 21st century, many young adults expect their parents to continue to support them even while they live at home after college.

The study examined at five “core transitions”: leaving home, completing school, entering the workforce, getting married, and having children. The finding:

Both in the United States and in many European countries, the process of becoming an adult is more gradual and varied today than it was half a century ago. Social timetables that were widely observed in that era no longer seem relevant, and young people are taking longer to achieve economic and psychological autonomy than their counterparts did then.

Another key finding:

Parents contribute sizable material and emotional support through their children’s late twenties and into their early thirties. Such flows are to be expected in more privileged families, but what is now striking are the significant flows—and associated strains—in middle-class families at a time when families themselves have become increasingly stressed or fractured.

 The study was done by Richard Settersten, a professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University, and Barbara Ray, president of Hired Pen, Inc  as part of the MacArthur Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood.

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