By Sharon Hackenbracht & Elisa Foster
There is an overwhelming amount of research about the Millennial Generation (also known as Generation Y). And now that they’ve entered adulthood, ranging between the ages of 18 and 34, Millennials are a hot topic among those studying trends in higher education, financial services, workforce development and how young adults are faring in the current economy. However, getting a sense of the Millennial mindset is tougher than you may think. Depending on who you ask, Millennials are everything from lazy and spoiled to confident and open-minded.
In our work with educational institutions, we’ve learned that a key to understanding Millennials is to look at one of the biggest influencers in their lives: Parents.
In order to understand the behavior of young adults, it is vital to also understand the behavior of parents who are providing financial and other assistance to their children. The last decade has seen a drastic increase in the number of adults between 18 and 34 who still live at home and rely on financial help from their parents. This not surprising news given that 16% of Millennials are unemployed and they are graduating from college with an average student loan debt of $29,000.
Parents of children who are in high school, college and in their twenties are becoming an increasingly important, though largely untapped, research segment. Increasingly, many are providing financial support, housing, career guidance, funding for education, health insurance and rent or mortgage payments. Some parents are even taking their kids to job interviews.
The implication is that if parents are providing support to their children as they become adults, it means that they have a good deal of influence over many aspects of their children’s lives: what kind of car they buy, what college they attend, what kind of bank accounts they hold, how much they are spending on travel and entertainment, etc.
In the course of our research at Melior, we’ve learned that parents often play a major role in such important considerations as what field of study to pursue at college. For instance, we’ve observed parents debating with their children about whether the child would major in business or liberal arts. It was apparent through these discussions that parents most often win the debate.
Ultimately, to understand the Millennial Generation, you also have to understand their parents’ perspectives and the dynamics of parent/child relationships that influence behavior and choices.
Are you a Millennial or the parent of a Millennial? Do you think Millennials depend on their parents more than previous generations? Please share your stories and opinions in the comments section below!