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Parents Effect on the Way Kids Perceive Work

Millennials Get a Grip: Work as a Contradiction

As kids, we're all aware that when we grow up there will be a place we go everyday and it's called work, and any perceptions of this so-called work came from our parents and teachers. An article in the New York Times called "Prepping Children for the 9 to 5" blames the parents of Gen Y for our it's-all-roses opinion of how a job should be. The author pulls in an expert who says, “This generation has been spoon-fed self-esteem cereal for the past 22 years. They’ve been told it’s all about them — what they want, what they are passionate about, what they find fulfilling. That’s not a bad message, but it’s also not a complete message.” To get a glimpse of the message we should be operating under just

The expert who owns the quote about the incomplete message is Daniel Pink, who's also an author of a career guide aimed toward those of us who've apparently been nourished with the wrong message. The lessons he focuses on are things like being comfortable without a career map, learning that persistence trumps talent, and that work isn't all about you. He makes an interesting point that parents should be teaching kids the simple truth about work — that "it can be glorious but grinding, worthwhile and wretched, a place you can’t wait to get to and can’t wait to leave, something you love but hate to do."

Are you as sick of the Gen Y criticism as I am? It seems like these articles and studies always find the biggest slacker in order to represent an entire group. Even in this Times article they brush over a 24-year-old founder of a consulting business, and instead focus on an old friend of his who quit his job because it had him working on weekends. I'm not saying that we don't deserve the criticism at all, but I don't think it serves any good to continue singling out our generation as one thing or another. Doesn't that just feed the whole basis for the criticism in the first place, that it's all about us?


Join The Conversation
dameneko dameneko 9 years
"millenial" is SO the new Gen X! or is that Gen Y? i am in between the two age groups so i got the tail end of the Gen X Slackerdom Chronicles back in the late '90s and Millenial Generation Self-Esteem Overload now...times have changed, are changing, and will continue to change...people either go with the flow or they don't. with the high level of income inequality in this country, to make sweeping generalizations of ANY age group about how they work is uninformed and dumb. i have started avoiding mainstream news articles with "millenial" in the title as much as i used to avoid op-ed postulations on the raison d'être of Gen X.
Ryot Ryot 9 years
I’ve totally lost track of what generation I supposedly am (is ’81 Gen X or Gen Y?) but I too am sick of the criticism of the current youngest generation. If I’m making enough money to support my lifestyle (and I say this as someone with no debt other than a mortgage) and not doing anything unethical, what right does anyone have to criticize my views on work? I’m not a child, I’m a working adult who happens to love my job. Yes it can be draining and annoying and frustrating, but it’s my dream job and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m passionate about it, I find it fulfilling, *and* it puts food on the table. I’m sorry that previous generations had to toil away at boring jobs, or devote their entire lives to a single company rather than chasing their dreams, but if I am able to both have a job I love and be financially secure, who are they to criticize? It starts to sound like sour grapes after a certain point.
joybarn joybarn 9 years
I totally understood this article and it spelled out many of the things I am facing in my current job search. I want to go for my 'dream job', whatever that is...but I would have to take a $10k paycut. I can't do that with a house. I want my job to be fufilling and my passion but I think a more realistic outlook would be more helpful. Plato said we should do what we're are best at...what service does a really good doctor do to a society if decides to quit and become an artist?
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Oh, crap I just noticed that where I typed *insert dream job here* before ...workers who feel like they're missing out and getting the sh*t end of the stick... it disappeared. Infernal carrots!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
For the record - before anybody tries to call bullshit - I actually did know a garbage collector who thought he had the best damn job in the world. As far as he was concerned, being essentially done at like 10 in the morning, driving around neighborhoods with all the children running to the window to wave hi and getting to be outside and on the move was the perfect job description. I'm sure he had co-workers who felt like garbage was stinky, they got no respect, had to get up too early in the morning and dammit why didn't they have a fulfilling job they were passionate about!?
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
But to defend the "message" that was sent to us about finding work that is fulfilling and that we are "passionate" about, WHY? is that TOO MUCH TO ASK? In my opinion, that message is close to fantasy. There aren't jobs that are magically fulfilling and passion inducing. There are people who feel fulfilled and are passionate about what they do. It's more about a person's attitude than their job description. So, if one's attitude is that one just have to find that perfect job that will fill them up with all the wonderful things they were told they deserve, then they've been set up for failure. It's why there are garbage collectors who love life and feel they have the best damn job in the world and there are workers who feel like they're missing out and getting the shit end of the stick.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 9 years
I'm part of Generation X, and while my parents certainly didn't go overboard with stuffing me full of self esteem, they did always encourage me to do my best and let me follow my own interests. But they certainly never led me to expect that my job(s) would be fun or fulfilling! Work is something you do to pay for the rest of your life. If you enjoy your job, that's a bonus. I'm fortunate that I enjoy my current job on most days and during most hours.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I'm sick of the criticism as well. In the end, we'll be paying out of our a$$es for the older generation, and we'll have to deal with a horrible global environment (which isn't even completely our generation's fault!). We do work hard, and we are not taken seriously. When we say something about it, we are perceived as whiners. Come on now. I'm not going to sit behind a desk and keep my mouth shut. I wasn't taught that in college and by my parents, I was taught to have an opinion about things. If they can't handle it, then too bad. Of course work will be tough and draining sometimes. And we'll all have to pay our dues. But don't think we're all spoiled slackers who don't contribute anything. I'm annoyed now. Lol.
hmcmcd hmcmcd 9 years
yeah, Bella I know what your saying. I was actually one of those people and had a really hard time with my first job out of college b/c I kept thinking that what you do for a living defines who you are. Of course that is not true. Supercoolnat, I had that same experience, but unfortunately did not see through it. I really thought that out in the real world everybody would be just like my teachers .."wow your so smart, you really know how to analyze and think about things" needless to say I was soooo wrong, luckily I am a fast learner and picked up on "how to network" really quickly!
supercoolnat supercoolnat 9 years
...learning that persistence trumps talent... I was 'the smart one' at school, and I remember teachers always telling me how successful I'd be. Somehow I saw through that, and from a pretty young age I understood that the BS-ers and network-ers out there were likely to come out above the intelligent kids like me.
BlueKitten BlueKitten 9 years
Exactly, Bellaressa. When my job and my identity were one and the same, I was really unhappy. It took a long time to undo that way of thinking. Thank God for a DH that was finally able to get it through my thick skull that work is only part of my life, not all of it.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I agree with BlueKitten. It's old. However, work is not your total existence and I think a lot of people think that work (especially since you are there for the majority of your day)is their identity and some actually run with that and they don't really find their true identity in life. So, if their job is lacking or they are fired, it just spins downward for them. Your job can't be everything b/c it's not always dependable unlike your skills and experiences which are.
BlueKitten BlueKitten 9 years
I agree that the generalizations about Millenials are getting tired, but I actually agree with what the article is saying. Now that I'm in my late '20s, I have a much firmer grip on the realities of the working world -- and honestly, I'm happier now that I'm not expecting my career to the be the end-all, be-all of my existence. I like my job. I like my industry. But sometimes it drives me crazy and doesn't feel at all like my "passion." And that's okay with me. I don't feel like I've settled; I have plenty of things outside of work that capture my interest, and indulging in those activities actually make me a happier, more relaxed worker.
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 9 years
i am a part of the generation, and for the most part it is true. and even though i'm not one of them, i totally believe in working hard and paying my dues, not that i'm entitled to anything. it doesn't hurt to find articles like these and show them to my friends who all feel that they're entitled to something and can't settle or do a job considered "beneath" them
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
agreed, that this is a generalization. work isn't always going to be roses. there are days, years where we will have to put up with misery and/or ennui on the job. you have to work to make a living. But to defend the "message" that was sent to us about finding work that is fulfilling and that we are "passionate" about, WHY? is that TOO MUCH TO ASK? I think it's all about frame of mind, and it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. I feel that if I believe in what my mother tells me (life is hard, you should be grateful, people work for years at boring jobs just to feed the fam) then that is what I will get. If I never dream, never search, hope, or just plain expect for better I will never receive better. And I know that life is so much more than just spending all your good years doing something miserable. I recognize that one has to "put in their time" so to speak, which I have done for 8 years now. But I never give up believing that my life will not always be this way. I will find whatever it is that fulfills me, but only if I keep dreaming and searching while I work my regular old 9-5 job. If i give up on a better life, it'll be this way forever.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
I'm going to avoid these "millenial" topics from now on. Sweeping generalizations like this have historically led to outright discrimination of many categories of people. It's insulting and unfair.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Isn't the youngest generation always the slacker? This isn't something we're going to be able to fight. All older people think that the ways younger people are brought up and behave now are wrong. They're just jealous cause we have self-esteem and think the world revolves around us so much that it actually does.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
Agreed, carhornsinapril. Most days I love my job, but there are a few days out of the month when I'm like "REALLY?! Why am I helping your son with his homework again???" to my boss... Not every day is perfect, but that just isn't life.
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
i'm sick of the criticism, too -- it's a sweeping generalization that i don't think applies to me at all. work is like anything in life -- a relationship, friendships, school -- there will be things you love about it and things you can't stand. i'd assume that anyone with at least a little life experience would expect that.
melizzle melizzle 9 years
You can't stereotype the entire generation. However, in my own personal experience, friends of mine and students I've taught all seem to have this general impression that work always needs to be fulfilling and you should never settle for something "below" you. Not a bad sentiment at all, but frankly, sometimes work is just work.
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