There have been several hopeful signs coming out of the doom and gloom generation – also known as millennials – in the last few months which seem to signal that they may finally be growing up.
The first sign can be seen in birth rates, which, although still behind those of other generations, continue to steadily rise amongst millennial women. The second is the increase in home ownership, where millennials are outpacing their baby boomer parents and Gen X colleagues in buying homes.
But even their charge into these new waters signals the difficulty this generation has with “adulting.” And as the Wall Street Journal explains, retailers especially are waking up to this fact and finding creative ways to teach millennials the independent living skills they never learned from their parents.
"This generation, with its over-scheduled childhoods, tech-dependent lifestyles and delayed adulthood, is radically different from previous ones. They’re so different, in fact, that companies are developing new products, overhauling marketing and launching educational programs—all with the goal of luring the archetypal 26-year-old.
Companies such as Scotts, Home Depot Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. , Williams-Sonoma Inc.’s West Elm and the Sherwin-Williams Co. are hosting classes and online tutorials to teach such basic skills as how to mow the lawn, use a tape measure, mop a floor, hammer a nail and pick a paint color.
Lawn-mower engine maker Briggs & Stratton Corp. built a professional studio inside its Milwaukee office last year to make how-to videos. Power-tool maker Andreas Stihl AG calls these new consumers 'Willie Wannabes,' compared to their elders, who are 'Eddie Experts.'"
But while it’s a bit late for parents of millennials to teach their kids the basics of adult survival, millennials have a clean slate with the next generation. The question is, will they raise their children the same way – with lives full of sports and other extra-curricular activities – or will they seek more practical activities?
For parents interested in doing the latter, here are five activities every child should have a chance to do before leaving home:
1. Participate in Spring Cleaning – Instead of hiring a maid to do a deep cleaning or using the week kids are at camp to get the house whipped into shape, have the kids tackle the job. This gives parents the opportunity to introduce children to a wide variety of cleaning tools – such as vacuums, cleaning solutions, and detergents – while also training them how to properly mop a floor, wash windows, and clean coverings and curtains.
2. Redecorate a Room – Remodeling is often viewed as something to keep kids out of, but parents miss a great opportunity to teach basic do-it-yourself projects to kids when they do so, including painting, measuring, and hanging pictures.
3. Plan the Family Menu for a Month – Putting the kids in charge of the family menu for a while not only gives confidence in cooking – something that more than half of young millennials don’t have – but it also fosters grocery shopping ability, familiarity with different types of food, and an appreciation for the often-hated leftovers.
4. Take Charge of the Yard for the Summer – Given that YouTube is now having to teach young people how to mow the lawn, start a grill, and take care of plants, a summer spent taking care of the yard seems like a wise investment. Spending time outdoors learning to plant a garden can also build health and concentration.
5. Participate in an Auto Repair Day – A 2016 poll found that less than half of Americans were confident they could change a tire, while roughly three-quarters of Americans weren't confident about doing an oil change. Setting aside one day to teach kids these basic repair and upkeep tactics easily puts them ahead of the pack.
Every child is likely to launch into the adult world with some holes in their basic skills repertoire, but is it time we started to ensure that they don’t have as many as the millennial generation seems to?
[Image Credit: Air Force photos by Becky Pillifant]
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.