The Millennial Generation, also referred to as Generation Y, is more likely to receive direct parental attention than earlier generations, leading them to feel more cherished and full of potential, according to recent studies.
The advent and mandatory use of child safety seats coupled with events like the Columbine High School shooting and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks have led parents of the Millennial Generation to pay more attention to the safety of their children, as well as to invest more time in making sure their children’s lives are on the right track.
“(The Millennial Generation) is more protected and planned for than other generations,” said Terry Piper, CSUN vice president of Student Affairs. “This generation has seen more child-care centers, (and) more organized events like soccer practice and gymnastics lessons, than any other generation before. This is a highly-managed group of individuals.”
The Millennial Generation is comprised of people born between 1980 and 2000.
During a Provost Council meeting held in February, Piper distributed a leaflet that explained the characteristics of Generation Y to CSUN deans.
The leaflet revealed that those in the Millennial Generation are “more accustomed to supervision and structure,” “want more structure and direction” from adults, and “trust that parents and grandparents will likely continue to involve them in their decision-making processes well into adulthood.”
Piper said he and other faculty members have seen these changes in the student body.
“We have enough Millennial Generation students in the university now for this change to become noticeable,” Piper said.
In addition, Millennial Generation parents are more often engaging themselves in every facet of their children’s lives.
“Patterns are beginning to emerge,” Piper said. “Parents are a significant part of the Millennial Generation’s lives.”
Parents of this generation are involving themselves in their children’s education, even at the university level.
According to Charles Macune, History Department chair, occurrences of parents speaking on behalf of their adult children are rare.
“It’s happened maybe two times since I’ve been here (at CSUN),” Macune said.
Macune said that in one case, a parent accompanied her shy child to the office to resolve a problem. While he could not disclose the specifics of the problem to the parent due to student confidentiality, Macune said the problem got resolved.
“The parent was like a mother hen going to bat for her child,” Macune said. “But either you or I would have done the same thing if our child was being mistreated.”
Macune said that oftentimes, students are not aware of the resources available to them when they have problems with grades and professors, so the students get their parents involved, thinking this will help solve the problem more quickly.
“Students don’t always know the university is here for them,” Macune said. “Most professors and faculty are here because they want to work with the students, not against them.”
Carole Oglesby, chair of the Kinesiology Department, said parents are concerned about their children’s’ lives no matter how old their children get.
“If you’re a caring parent, you never lose your concern for your child, even if your child is 50, 60, or 70 years old,” Oglesby said.
Oglesby said she has never personally dealt with parents complaining about professors or grades on behalf of their adult children. However, she said she could see why parents might feel the need to do so.
“If (the parent) believes there’s some resource their child can’t get to on their own, then they might come in,” Oglesby said.
She recommended that concerned parents should talk with the professor or faculty member that is involved, and that both the student and parent should make every effort to be non-judgmental when addressing the problem.
Some feel that the abundance of attention parents give to their children can be detrimental over time.
“There’s a term for parents who are always there, always hovering above their kids,” Piper said. “They’re called ‘helicoptering parents.'”
Piper, who said he has met with many parents over the years about various concerns, said that while the Millennial Generation may feel cherished because they know their parents are there for them, constant intervening, or “hovering,” could potentially lead to a child’s lack of independence and motivation.
“Kids feel the pressure to succeed, but they don’t think they can do it on their own,” Piper said. “This has led to more cheating on campus.”
Oglesby said that once students reach the university level, they should fight their own battles.
“They should be able to handle their own problems,” Oglesby said. “You should let your son or daughter know that you’re there for them, but you shouldn’t take over.”