Have Millennials learned from the family values our parents taught us? Or are we always destined to be labelled the self-absorbed generation?
My parents have given me a lot of advice over the years. As a child, I was always encouraged to push the boundaries, stand up for myself and question my curiosity. Our parents play a major role in defining who we are as human beings and we learn some of life’s greatest lessons from them. Our parents teach us invaluable lessons, some practical and some philosophical. So this month, I’d like to discuss whether we, as Millennials, have taken the values our parents taught us into our futures. In particular, I’d like to address family values. Do we have strong family values? And how have these values shaped us as individuals today?
I fall into the middle period of the Millennial generation (I was born in 1992) and am reluctant to admit that when I was younger, I was self-absorbed and greedy when it came to putting myself first, and my family second. I was raised in a very close-knit family with incredibly strong family values and am the oldest of four children. We grew up with the mantra “family first always” and our parents always taught us that there was nothing in the world more important than that. Now, as an adult, it’s true that there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my family. But it wasn’t always that way…
When I moved out of home at 18, I was so concerned with what I wanted for my life that I neglected the family I was leaving behind. I didn’t consider how my parents or my siblings would feel, how my leaving home would affect them and how my own family values would somehow fall by the wayside. In the time leading up to my move to Brisbane, I ignored many conversations my parents had with me about my decision to leave. I couldn’t see reason in their argument; at the time, there was nothing more important to me than leaving home and forging a life of my own.
To be 100 per cent clear, I do not regret leaving home and moving to another city when it comes to my career or my own development as a person. But I do regret the way I neglected the values my parents taught me and the way I went about leaving. I didn’t consider how I wouldn’t get to see my younger siblings grow up and the milestones I wouldn’t be a part of, and I certainly didn’t think I would miss my family as much as I did. It took many years for me to recognise and understand the guilt I harboured about leaving home and realise that I’d completely neglected the lessons and values my parents had taught me about family.
There are so many conceptions and misconceptions about this generation, what our values are and what society can expect from us. But even though I personally went through a rocky patch, I firmly believe that when it comes to family values, this is something that our generation still values strongly. Yes, maybe the values themselves have slightly changed over the years; for instance we aren’t all running to the altar to get married and women aren’t rushing to have children, instead focusing on building their careers. But just because we aren’t starting families as young as we used to, doesn’t mean the family values we learnt from our parents have disappeared altogether.
So what is it that the Millennial generation has learnt from their parents? In my opinion, there’s a lot we have learnt from the generations above us. Firstly, most Millennials are enabled and encouraged by our parents to spend time discovering ourselves and the world around us. This is how we learn freedom and independence. Some Millennials find themselves staying at home with their parents longer and are even encouraged by their parents to do so. This is how we learn the importance of being supportive. We’re taught to share. Whether it’s sharing toys with siblings when we’re young, sharing friends when we’re teenagers or sharing a house with a partner as an adult. This is how we learn to always be patient and inclusive.
But, like anything, we can always be better. We could always volunteer our time more, whether this is for charity or for our family and friends. We could always spend more time with our grandparents, learning from their wisdom and listening to their stories. We could always say, “I love you” that one extra time. We can always continue to learn.
Whether you’re a Millennial or not and whether you agree or disagree with what I’m saying, the point is, we’re still growing up. We still have a lot to learn about life and about family values. But, like me, we take small steps forward every single day and that’s what matters most.