... the so-called Millennials, born after 1981, are being hailed as the promise generation, history makers who will define the new century.
There's just one problem: At the moment, this is a generation that lacks the common sense to stay off deadly train tracks or campus rivers when they're icy. A generation that can't seem to make decisions without texting home, and whose helicopter parents -- so named for their hovering ways -- have actually begun negotiating salaries with job recruiters on their kids' behalf.
Faced with the most-chaperoned, play-dated generation in memory, as the Globe's Marcella Bombardieri found, colleges are rolling out increasingly elaborate orientation programs. Having long taken for granted a basic set of life skills, schools are having to spell out such dos and don'ts as Boston University's: Don't try to cross the icy Charles River in winter.
Of course, catering to Millennials also means answering to their parents. A University of South Carolina official tells of a mother asking that her photo appear on her child's student ID card. "Because anytime there is a problem, I'm going to be dealing with it."
... [the Milennials] are also making some smart decisions: Smoking, suicide, and teen pregnancy and abortion are all down. ... All in all, it's a relentlessly upbeat crowd, say Neil Howe and William Strauss in their book, "Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation."
... But it's easy to be optimistic when you've never been allowed to fail, when every kid at a swim meet has to win something, and making children feel good becomes as important as ensuring that they do well. It's easy to have a can-do spirit when you've been insulated from the ordinary risks of childhood.
As Howe put it, "This isn't a generation of kids who went wandering in backyards and empty lots and thought of things to play. All their activity was prepared for them."
And that's the problem: Life is not a supervised activity. If those in this group are to fill their grandparents' shoes, they can't continue to be coddled at an age when their grandparents were fighting wars.
D-day didn't come with a handbook. Parents, and colleges for that matter, would do well to do less catering and let their very old kids finally become adults.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Unknown | Thursday, July 20, 2006 |