How often do you worry that you’re letting your parents down? There are no grandchildren on the cards, you’re still living at home, and you haven’t secured the graduate job you had dreamed of.
Well, you’re not alone. I am constantly concerned about letting my parents down because, despite the fact I’m 26, I have yet to reach the career, house, husband, or children milestones.
However, the millennial lifestyle is miles apart from what our parents were accustomed to as young adults. Rising living costs, increased educational opportunities and the introduction of social media have shaped millennial living habits and created attitudes that must be confusing to our parents at times.
I wanted to ask my mom how she feels about our generational differences, so I prepared myself for what I expected would be an emotional conversation.
The first question I wanted to address was:
“How do you feel, knowing that you had achieved so much by the time you were my age compared to what I have achieved?”
At the age of 20, my mom had bought a pair of two-bedroomed flats, one of which she rented out, while she lived in the upstairs property and got married in the same year. At 28, she married her second husband and had me, her first child, at the age of 29.
This is obviously a far cry from the stage I am at in my life.
Speaking of our varying achievements, my mo
m explained, “You were going to university and doing a degree at the age of 20. I would never have done that, so I wouldn’t compare myself to you in any way. Certainly not saying I was better or anything.”
Next I ask:
“When you see my friends getting engaged, married, having kids, and buying their first homes how does it make you feel?”
“If you’re trying to make me say that I’m disappointed that you haven’t, I’m not. I would like to see you settled in a house and everything, because I know that’s what you want, but I think you need to find your way first and make sure you find a career – that is more important,” she said.
“If you were doing what your friends are doing, some people would say it’s like a noose around your neck. They’re in a position like me really where I’m frightened to leave a steady job because I have a mortgage and bills to pay.
“While having a house is going to be nice, it’s not the be-all and end-all, it’s like a milestone. I would say do everything you can now while you’re at home because once you do get a place, that’s it, that’s your life pretty much set.”
“What is your biggest worry about me right now?”
“I’m not really worried about you; I just have hopes. I hope that you will be able to find a job relating to your journalism master’s or be self-employed. You’ve put all this work in and you need to be able to use it after that. You’re doing something productive,” she says.
“The people you see getting houses are people that are in couples, and in five years’ time, they could be divorced for all you know. Don’t think they’re progressing anywhere ahead of you, they’re just taking a different path.
From the conversation with my mom, I understand she only wants the best for me. I feel pressure to do well because I want to give my mom the happiness she gave me when I was growing up, but ultimately my happiness is a priority.
I encourage anyone who feels they are not making their parents proud to have a similar conversation I have shared. Admittedly it feels terrifying, but it has certainly helped me to feel confident and proud of the direction I am taking in life.