For quite a while we've all heard jokes about Millennials. I even had a colleague get up at a faculty meeting and begin with a Millennial joke - we all laughed - to which he followed up, "I'm a Millennial. We're your colleagues now. Stop making fun of us." Ouch. Great point.
While determining generational cutoffs isn't perfect, the Pew Research Center says Millennials were born between 1982-1996. Millennials are now 25-39 years old. This means many are married and have kids. They are firmly entrenched in the workforce. If you'd like to know more about this generation, and the one after - Gen Z - check out this article from the Pew Research Center.
But since we hear so much (often negative) about them, I thought I'd gather some information about their attitudes toward marriage. I hear a lot in media messages that Millennials are very different from every generation before them, largely because of the ubiquitousness of computers during their lifetime, but those differences are rarely fleshed out.
Here's what I found in research from Dai & Chilson in the Marriage & Family Review:
Marriage is not mandatory. This generation sees marriage as an option, not a requirement. They see it has advantages, but also disadvantages, and they weigh them carefully.
Marriage decisions are often determined by a desire for happiness and a desire to start a family. While they understand marriage is difficult, they also see marriage as a place to be happy, and they want that. They also acknowledge that while children can be born outside of marriage, they generally choose marriage as the best place for it.
The reasons against getting married include concerns about commitment and concerns that marriage will interfere with their career and/or education plans. They have seen first-hand that getting married "too early" can pre-empt education plans and they want to avoid that.
Men are influenced most to get married by their parents, while females are most influenced by siblings and friends. Females have innate "competition" in determining one's intent to marry. For instance, Brittany sees that her sister and friend are getting married, and she doesn't want to be the only one who is still single, so she may begin to have stronger feelings about getting married.
So, what does all this mean? Mostly, it means that Millennials do see the world a little differently. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing.
Next post I'll share how this information impacts our communication with Millennials.