Minding The Generation Gap

Hi, I’m Emily. And I’m a millennial.  (Hiiiii, Emily.)

I’ve been a closet millennial for most of my life, which is a curious thing, because that’s not really something you can be in the closet about. I mean, you’re in one generation or the other, and you don’t get to pick which one, and you don’t get to change. That’s just not how it works.

But I was born between 1984 and 2002, and that means I’m a Millennial, like it or not.

I’ve hesitated to claim the title of Millennial because of all the mudslinging (apparently not just a thing during the presidential election season) prevalent in our culture. We’ve been called everything from idealist-innovators to lazy, entitled, misguided, self-righteous, impolite brats. To name a few. And don’t get me wrong—I’m not whining, because I know there’s a certain amount of animosity that surfaces when a new generation rises. It’s a fact of life. I am not naive enough to think that will go away anytime soon. And I also know there’s a handful of people on both sides of the gap giving their respective generations a bad name. I’ve young friends who  are lazy and entitled. But I’ve also not-as-young friends who broadcast harsh words.

And while there are stereotypes for a reason, there are also plenty of people who bust the stereotypes to bring hope and healing. I want to be one of those—bringing clarity to both sides of the conversation.

Why? Because the mudslinging doesn’t close the generation gap; it only widens, deepens, and stretches the gap even farther. Until pretty soon we’re in the generational Grand Canyon, where you can go any direction (but up, notably) for a full mile before colliding with anything remotely organic.

So I want to  stand in the generation gap while it’s still possible, before the widening becomes irreparable.

What makes my experience as a Millennial even more intriguing than not wanting to be one in the first place is the presence of generational strata in my immediate family. In the alleged three generations between my parents, my siblings, and my siblings’ children, we actually represent five different generations—more on that later. As a result, I have a unique perspective which includes both insight and compassion for both generations.

There’s a variety of issues needing clarity if we’re going to play nice and preserve (create?) a culture of kindness. And treat each other with respect. And value each other as fellow human beings. Oh, and, not to mention, teach the coming generations how to treat each other. So there’s that.

So to that end, I’m working on a series that specifically addresses several topics—like employment and career goals, dating and singleness, mentoring, church involvement, music, altruism, and authenticity. My goal will be to not only give a voice to Millennials, but to provide insight for both ends of the generational spectrum.

But I need your help. No matter what generation you’re in, if you have questions about either generation—or something you want to say about either generation—please let me know. Fill out this question form below or Connect With Me via email. I want to know your thoughts, answer your questions as best I can, and scratch the generational itches you might have.

Who’s Who?
Before we get started, let’s agree on some definitions for who’s who. I’ll be using the Barna Group for the statistics and descriptions of generations. Barna is a leading research organization with a more than 30-year history. Barna focuses squarely on the intersection of faith and culture, working to provide spiritual influencers with crucial information on cultural trends. The extensive work Barna has done to track societal movement is a credible foundation for our discussion here.

I’ve heard differing years on Millennials and Xers, and there is certainly an overlap in every generational transition. But for the sake of this series, we’ll rely on Barna Group’s research to define the generations.

Elders—Born 1945 or earlier
Boomers—Born 1946-1964
Xers—Born 1965-1983
Millennials— 1984-2002

Standing In The Generation Gap 
One more thing. This conversation is kind of like La Bambase necesito una poca de gracia: You need a little bit of grace. No matter which generation you fall in, this will be an exercise in grace. If we’re going to close the generation gap, we’re going to need a little bit (okay, a lotta bit) of grace for each other. But in the end, it will be worth it. And our future kids (or future grandkids, whichever may be the case) will thank us for it.

Ready? Alright. Let’s do this.

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