Why Millennials (Mis)Behave Like They Do


by Coach Beth Morales, World Executives Digest |

I was reading an article written by Angela Duckworth, a Psychology professor from the University of Pennsylvania and author of a new book, GRIT: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Scribner, May 3). Grit is defined as the combination of passion and perseverance. Duckworth’s findings show that Grit and age go hand in hand and the reason why Millennials act they way they do is they just haven’t grown up.

To a large extent, I agree with Angela Duckworth’s observations because as one goes through life, and experiences challenges, failures and overcomes them, a person’s resiliency develops and adversity quotient goes up.

She also opined that baby boomers or the older generation were shaped by different environments where a solid work ethic and single lifelong career is encouraged and rewarded.

Personally, I think the complex environment that the Millennials are exposed to is a key factor.

Take note that during World War II (post war ushered the birth of baby boomers), parents experienced hardship of all sorts and so they made sure their kids are very disciplined with their resources. Savings and frugality is highly encouraged (be prepared for the rainy days). Baby boomers were also enjoined to lend a hand in household or babysitting chores. Mother also devoted her time taking care of her children ( and so maybe she had more ” emotional connection” with her kids?)

Now the scenario has changed. With dual career families ( father and mother both busy working), the kids have more amenities at their disposal (toys and gadgets) but less emotional connection ? By the time parents reach home, energy is already depleted, considering the horrendous traffic, notwithstanding the daily work stressors.

Parents, to compensate for their absence (or maybe spare their kids of the hardships they went through), unwittingly, may indulge their kids and make things more comfortable for them (“the reason why we are working so hard is for them”). There are many distractions now compared in previous decades ( i.e. facebook, internet, games, multiple tasking, etc) and so one- on- one emotional connection is becoming more of a luxury.

Thus in this era, Millennials are more socially connected, technologically, but seem to be struggling with personal connection in social situations. They do not seem to have the grit because they have been used to a click of a finger and everything is just there in front of them…no sweat! Everything also seems disposable (literally &figuratively). So sweating it out seems alien to them? (“I can always run to mom or dad”)

It is said that a child has to experience some kind of deprivation or challenges, while he is growing up, so he will develop resiliency. At the same time, it is important that a child feels loved unconditionally. That even if he fails or not meet expectations, he is still okay, loved, and that he will be able to bounce back with the support of his family.

Otherwise, when he is already an adult and he encounters disappointments in his work or personal life, he may react impulsively or inconsistently because his deep-seated anxieties and self-doubts begin to possess him. Hopefully, as he engages with life and goes through the ” hard knocks”, he will develop the grit.