'I Am Not Prepared For Life' – Millennials Blame Their Boomer Parents For Not Teaching Them How To Be Responsible Adults

A discussion on an online platform has unveiled a shared sentiment among millennials regarding their upbringing by baby boomer parents, specifically highlighting a perceived lack of preparedness for adult life. 

The conversation, initiated by a 38-year-old woman on Reddit in January, reflects on personal experiences and seeks input from others on how they were prepared for life’s challenges.

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Reflecting on her upbringing, the initiator of the discussion noted, “When I reflect on how I was parented, I don't remember my parents ever giving me any type of life advice.” 

She said her parents did not teach her to save money or to appreciate the swift passing of time, particularly regarding education and personal growth. Her story resonates with a broader experience among millennials, where parental guidance on practical life skills was minimal or absent.

Another participant, also a 38-year-old woman, expressed her feelings of unpreparedness, saying, “I am not prepared for life. I‘m finally emotionally mature, but I wasn't taught how to navigate life in terms of being a responsible adult.” 

She pointed out that the lack of preparation extends beyond a single generation, suggesting a systemic issue within both family structures and educational systems. Highlighting a specific area of concern, she said, “I opened a credit card at 18 and literally didn't know what interest was,” underscoring the importance of teaching financial literacy to young adults.

The conversation also touched on the predatory practices of credit card companies targeting college students in the 1990s, a concern shared by multiple participants. “Colleges in the '90s would let these credit companies on campus. They had tables outside our cafeteria with free giveaways if you signed up,” one user recalled, expressing frustration over the lack of oversight and the long-term financial implications for their peers.

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Addressing broader issues of ideology and life skills, another contributor remarked on the absence of substantive guidance from parents on critical life matters, stating, “No ideology or structure was presented at key stepping stone points in my life.” 

This participant criticized their parents for perpetuating outdated beliefs and failing to address important topics such as mental health and societal responsibilities.

Millennials, often labeled as the generation facing unprecedented economic challenges, seem to bear out this reputation with recent data highlighting their financial predicaments and the impact of their upbringing by baby boomer parents. 

A significant portion of millennials report living paycheck to paycheck, with 70% indicating this is their reality. This financial precarity is exacerbated by a high cost of living and stagnant wages, with nearly half of the generation also grappling with debt that seems insurmountable​​. About 90% of millennials have some form of nonmortgage debt, according to a survey from Real Estate Witch. 

The debt crisis among millennials is profound, with credit card debt hitting a record high of $1.08 trillion in 2023 and student loan debt surpassing $1.6 trillion. This situation is particularly dire for attendees of private for-profit colleges, who are the most likely to fall behind on student loan payments​​. 

The generational wealth gap has widened, with fewer millennials owning homes or accumulating wealth compared to baby boomers at the same age. Only 49% of millennials in low-skilled service occupations owned their home by the age of 35, compared to 63% of baby boomers, illustrating a significant decline in economic mobility and access to traditional markers of financial stability​​. This decline is attributed not just to changing work and family patterns but to a structural shift in the economy that has diminished the economic rewards for secure, middle-class and working-class lifestyles​​.

The economic status of millennials, when compared to previous generations, paints a bleak picture. Despite being highly educated, millennials have not seen the expected financial benefits, with flat income levels and lower net worth compared to baby boomers at similar ages. This financial instability extends to retirement, with concerns about how these factors will impact their long-term financial security​​.

Financial advisers provide comprehensive guidance across a wide array of financial challenges, offering strategies to those who may not have learned financial management from their parents. Consulting with a financial adviser can help individuals get on track financially, despite the economic pressures.

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*This information is not financial advice, and personalized guidance from a financial adviser is recommended for making well-informed decisions.

Jeannine Mancini has written about personal finance and investment for the past 13 years in a variety of publications including Zacks, The Nest and eHow. She is not a licensed financial adviser, and the content herein is for information purposes only and is not, and does not constitute or intend to constitute, investment advice or any investment service. While Mancini believes the information contained herein is reliable and derived from reliable sources, there is no representation, warranty or undertaking, stated or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information.

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