Today’s parents get a bad rap for being too overprotective. Called Helicopter Parents by authors Neil Howe and William Strauss, they are blamed for ruining their children by sticking their nose into every aspect of their children’s lives, fixing every upset, trivial or no.
“This has been the most protected generation in history,” says Mark Thompson, director of counseling at Colgate University. He points to car seats, bicycle helmets, and even wood chips under park swings. Because Gen Y has been reared in a “risk adverse” way, they tend to be psychologically fragile, robbed of their own identities, and unable to feel a real sense of accomplishment for their efforts.
So it is the parent’s fault when junior can’t handle life. But what do you say when something like this happens?
BU Police Chief Thomas Robbins says his department received a call from a parent of one of the students in the apartment, whose first response was to call home. Robbins says he hopes that students learn to make their first and immediate call to 911 or to the BUPD at 617-353-2121. ‘We’ve got to get our number on the students’ radar,’ he says. ‘It’s great that this person called a parent, but people in danger should call us first, then call a parent.’
It is not for nothing they are called the Tethered Generation.
“The Tethered Generation”, the term first used in HR Magazine, refers to young people who have to be in constant contact with their parents and each other via cellphones and Instant Message. A teen’s life becomes a continuous voice recording to Mom and Dad. The conversations are completely trivial and never-ending: “I’m getting out of class now and I’m on my way to the cafeteria.” “Dad, can you do this job application?” “Mom, what should I do about my crappy roommate? Today she wouldn’t empty the garbage.”
Those of us in the process of parenting these Generation Y offspring remember a much different youth. Certainly our parents were less involved, but this coldness generated another criticism, that our parents weren’t doing enough to encourage our self-esteem. But there was something different about us too. We, as a generation, yearned for freedom, to express ourselves, to make what we wanted of ourselves, to live our lives as we pleased. We couldn’t WAIT to get out of the house.
The parents of Generation Y are largely the late baby boomers, those born Uranus in Cancer or Leo, Neptune in Libra or Scorpio and Pluto in Leo.
Generation Y individuals, also called Millennials, were born between 1979 and 1998. These young adults were born with the planet of individuation, Uranus in either Scorpio or Sagittarius, the planet of high spiritual ideals, Neptune in Sagittarius or Capricorn, and the planet of transformation, Pluto in Libra.
As I pointed out in the post “Astrological Analysis: Generation Y and Helicopter Parents”:
“Pluto in Leo transformed a generation whose self involvement transmuted into a extreme involvement in their children’s lives. But is this a case of the tail wagging the dog?
The Pluto in Libra children do not see their parents so much as authority figures, but as managing partners in their lives. These children, providing that there are no mitigating factors, such as abuse in the parental relationship, are not only willing, but eager to accept their parents as friends and companions in this lifetime. It is unique relationship, probably not born out of the parents’ success as parents, but the unique nature of this generation.”
Make no mistake. This is not all the parents fault. The children do not want the cord cut.
One steeled willed parent of a Gen Y child told me of her conversation with her then 19 year old about his future. Since he lacked a college career or a full time job, and failed to pay rent regularly it was clear to her that she was not doing her job as a parent by allowing him to live at home. He had six months to find another place for him to live. He became angry, and moved out within a month to live with some friends. He wouldn’t talk with her directly for a very long time, though from time to time after he moved out, she would wake up and find him watching television in the living room in the middle of the night.
Later after a long discussion she found out that he didn’t appreciate getting “kicked out of his own house.”
However, he did start working full-time and after a year of working at minimum wage decided to go into military service, where he has saved a substantial amount of money. He is planning to go to college when he gets out in the spring.
But she still has two children “tethered”, and she constantly has to remind them, “this is something you have to do yourself.”
“Me ruining their lives?” she says. “When do I get to get to have my own life?”
Encouraging independence while not sparking resentment is the challenge of every parent of a Generation Y denizen. These Pluto in Libra people need a firm but gentle hand to push them out of the nest. If you are successful, you should get at least thirty seconds of peace before they bring the grandchildren over to visit. Because then, they will REALLY need you.