It’s not easy being a millennial or a Gen Z’er today. Some of the things we’re dealing with in 2023 — like digital dating, specific financial hardships, and social media pressures — are things parents can’t always wrap their heads around.
I recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to share some things that they wish parents would attempt to understand about being a millennial or Gen Z’er today, and the responses were extremely eye-opening. Here is what some had to say.
“That college is not always the ‘path.’ Some people don’t need to go to college immediately after high school. Sometimes a gap year is not enough. I have met lots of people from the various jobs I had who tried to go to college and found out it wasn’t for them. Our generation is told to go to college or university or else it’s the end of the world for us. There are so many paths you can take after high school like being in an apprenticeship, taking a basic full-time job, and so on.”
“I had exactly this discussion with my parents yesterday. I need them to understand I won’t prioritize work over my mental health or personal time. If any company tries to pull that, I’ll quit in a second.”
“My immigrant parents absolutely REFUSE to believe the ‘American dream’ is basically dead. They think that anyone can get any job — and that job will be enough to pay for their basic needs. It explains why they don’t really get the stress me and other university students feel when we’re frantically searching for jobs that’ll give us the life they moved to this country for.”
“I wish they knew how different (and how much more difficult) job hunting is these days. I have a bachelor’s degree in math, graduated in December 2021, and I have been unsuccessfully trying to get a job in my field ever since. They don’t seem to understand how different the process is from when they were younger.”
“I’m asexual, and my mom keeps pressuring me to date casually. What she doesn’t seem to understand is that causal dating — to a lot of people — means casual sex. While I believe it is possible to be ace and have casual sex, it just isn’t something I personally feel comfortable with. As for why I’m not trying for a serious relationship right now, I’m graduating from college soon and likely moving to another state. And more importantly, I just don’t feel like dating right now.”
“I wish they understood how the definition of ‘success’ has changed. My boomer folks lived on one teacher’s salary, were able to buy a home and cars, raised three children, had no student loan debt, and were able to retire at 65. That way of life is no longer available to future generations.”
“I wish they knew that dating isn’t as simple as it once was. With dating apps, we all have a lot more options afforded to us. In some ways, this is great — especially for the LGBTQ+ community. In other ways, it can be negative, as many get the nagging feeling that there could be something better. Not to mention, many people are bolder behind a screen than they are in person, which can put people at risk for all sorts of harassment and misconduct, as well as catfishing and scams.”
“I wish my parents would understand that I don’t need to be married or have kids to be happy. At 32, I’m no longer interested in any of that. I also wish my mom would not make fun of or be bigoted toward mental illness, sexual orientation, race, etc. It’s hard to be open and talk to her.”
“The fear we have of school shootings and mass shootings in general. I still remember having a class discussion about leaving the room during a fire alarm a few weeks after Parkland. My mom didn’t understand why I was so worried, because ‘it probably won’t happen at my school.’ Statistically, it could have.”
“The struggle of being a working mom. I don’t mean to insult stay-at-home moms because they work incredibly hard and struggle in their own ways, but my mom can’t understand how difficult it is to balance home and a job. No, I can’t always drop everything to spend extra time with my kids because they need it. I wish I could, but working isn’t a choice for me. I have to work to support my family, so that sometimes means I can’t chaperone a field trip or volunteer in the classroom, even if my kids want me to. When I’m working, I do feel guilty that I’m not with my kids. But also, being with my kids can be exhausting, so I don’t always want to be with them every second I’m not working. I’m constantly fighting an inner battle between feeling guilty I’m at work because I’m not with my kids, feeling guilty I’m with my kids when I have work to do, and feeling guilty when I’m taking time for myself. She can’t understand.”
“I wish my parents would realize that complaining about my significant other doesn’t mean I want or need to break up with them. Sometimes, I just need to vent — but I still love my partner.”
“My mother called me recently and told me that my sister (21) was in DEEP trouble because she went out at 9 p.m. and wasn’t back until midnight and how my parents had no idea where she was. So, as a punishment, she was sent to bed early. I was silently confused for a moment before pointing out that my sister is an adult, and if she wants to stay out late, that’s her business. My mother got all huffy at that, because to her, my sister is still a child that lives with her. I worry that my sister isn’t getting the chance to be an actual adult — because our mother won’t even let her do her own laundry or change her own bed sheets. I appreciate that they’re not pressuring her to move out and find her own place, but they might be bubble-wrapping her to never move and be independent.”
“I wish they understood that going to therapy is not an accusation or statement about how you parented us. We can believe that you did the best job with the information and tools you had available to you — and still need to heal from some of your parenting techniques. It doesn’t mean we blame you or don’t love you. Going to therapy is just a form of taking responsibility for your feelings and actions.”
“That just because they had to suck up their problems and carry on doesn’t mean we have to. Sometimes, I feel like not overworking ourselves to prioritize our mental health is often mistaken as laziness, which isn’t always the case.”
“I’m in my late 30s, so I’m not a young adult anymore — but I wish my parents would be more open-minded and accepting of different genders and sexualities. They claim to be open-minded but are terrible allies to the point where I’ve given up on the idea of ever coming out to them because I know they won’t even try to understand. They claim to be allies, but in the most narrow and easy definition of the term, and have no desire to grow from there.”
“My parents are very understanding and willing to adapt to almost anything I need. However, I feel like I can’t share things with them like the fact that I don’t want children or that I’m no longer Christian because I feel like it’ll affect our relationship negatively. It sucks that I can’t be completely honest with them.”
“I struggled with undiagnosed ADHD for a LONG time. I attempted to approach my parents about it, but they brushed it aside and insisted I was fine and just wasn’t trying hard enough. I BARELY graduated high school and dropped out of community college because of failing grades.”
Is there anything else you wish your parents understood about being a young adult today? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.