October at colleges and universities may evoke images of falling leaves and football games, but midsemester exams bring a spike in anxiety, the No. 1 mental health problem on campuses.
An epidemic of heroin addiction is spreading among young adults, yet for the most part, the problem remains hidden. Shamed parents, blaming themselves and wondering what they did wrong, struggle alone. As one boomer mom told me, “No one wants to announce to family and friends that their son is a drug addict.”
For years we’ve heard a Paul Revere-type warning: The millennials are coming! The millennials are coming! Indeed they are here, pushing aside boomers and Gen Xers this year as the largest generation in the labor force. Predictions are that in five years, they will comprise more than half the workforce.
Last week, the editor of a newspaper in the Pacific Northwest emailed to check a reference for one of my former students. A position had opened up because the editor had let go a staffer who kept misspelling the names of people in photo captions. In another conversation earlier in the week, the owner of a Maryland consulting company mentioned that she routinely eliminates millennial job candidates when they can’t follow basic directions on a writing test.
Over a lifetime, the longest relationship typically is not with parents, partners or children, but with siblings. Research focused on these family ties identifies five types of sibling relationships: the intimate, the congenial, the loyal, the apathetic and the hostile.” But when a sibling suffers from a mental illness, the relationship can fall outside those norms. Indeed, the Alliance on Mental Illness noted:
Thanksgiving eve should be a warm and fuzzy family night as college students return home and older adult children who live a distance fly back to the nest. More likely, the college kids will dump their bags by the front door and dash out again to catch up with high school chums. While the older 20-something siblings might make it through dinner, they, too, then will head out to a local bar or party. The night before Thanksgiving has become a social scene, a time to see and be seen. But it’s not all fun. Because of excessive drinking, the night has been dubbed Blackout Wednesday — as in blacking out from too many drinks.
We've all received that phone call, email or text from our young adult child who's lamenting some crisis or another. Often our response is, “This too shall pass.” But what happens when one bad day slips into another and another?
Time magazine put our adult children on its cover last year and dubbed them “Generation Me, Me, Me.” In response, some critics noted that several generations — notably baby boomers — could also wear the “all about me” tag.
The college class I teach on millennial issues enrolls 15 women — no men — so sometimes discussions are more revealing than in a co-ed class. When the topic of marriage comes up, some young women wonder if they will ever get married. Long gone are the days of going to college for a MRS (Mrs.) degree. Now, confronted with almost too many choices for careers and entrepreneurial ventures, my students question where marriage fits — if at all — in their life plans.
A friend recently shared some news: His youngest child, a successful professional, was getting married in September, finally. Did he approve of the nuptials? "She's 32," he answered in a deadpan manner. "I'm just happy she's getting married." While the boomer father liked his future son-in-law, the young couple had been living together for a few years. Dad had expected them to get married a lot sooner. What were they waiting for?
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