This beauty is just one of my three 20-something kids. Learning to parent them has been challenging, but rewarding. Watching them grow and mature has been kind of like watching a flower go from a bud to full bloom. The most significant thing I’ve learned? I’m not really sure what species of flower they are! Oh, I know things like their respective temperaments, their love languages, and their gifts and abilities, but what I’m still coming to grips with are all the things that make their generation unique. Several months ago, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about 20-somethings today and what makes them tick. Today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you. The characteristics I’m sharing are generalizations, and may or may not apply to your 20-something kids. (I have a feeling you’ll recognize at least a few of these traits, though!) My hope is that by understanding (and accepting) the characteristics of this generation we can do a better job of developing supportive, positive relationships with our adult kids.
In general, 20-somethings seem to be rebelling against the excesses and indulgences of their elders by actively pursuing a healthy lifestyle. I’ve really noticed this with mine! They’ll indulge, but they don’t seem to feel as guilty about it as we do because they balance their indulgences with appropriate portion control. Typically, they seem to treat their bodies better than we do on a daily basis, making healthy choices in many different areas of their lives.
Your 20-something kids probably drink less alcohol, eat less meat, and eat more vegetables than you do. According to market research firm NPD Group, consumers in the 18-34 age group increased their per capita consumption of vegetables by 7% last year over the previous year. In the same time frame, consumers aged 55-64 decreased their vegetable intake by 13%! Your kids may have declared themselves vegetarians, vegan, or gluten-free, and they probably prefer sophisticated, creative flavors and multiple textures in their foods.
Our 25-year-old son is an avowed minimalist. About a year ago, our son massively downsized his “stuff,” explaining that he just felt freer with fewer material possessions “to deal with.” His minimalism is most obvious to us when he’s home and making coffee. He hand grinds the coffee beans and then uses a pour-over coffee maker to brew each cup. According to Melitta Group, the leading seller of non-electric coffee systems in the United States, young adults now use pour-over coffeemakers at twice the rate of the general population. They’ve replaced their electric coffee makers with these simple, minimalist devices.
You’ve probably noticed that Millennials and Gen Zers love to be active. They enjoy outdoorsy things like skiing, paddleboarding, and hiking. We even see this preference for activity in their social lives, which is one of the reasons for the rise of paint-and-sip businesses like Painting With a Twist and Pinot’s Palette, where participants create art while sipping wine. Twenty-somethings also adore activities like Escape Rooms, in which a group is locked in a room and has to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit.
Your 20-something kids probably take their de-stressing as seriously as they do their jobs. They’re into things like mindfulness and meditation programs like Calm and Headspace. Of course, there’s no shortage of these apps available for smartphones, all promising to help combat anxiety, improve sleep, and sharpen focus. Many of them have also embraced things like knitting and crocheting, with young people ages 18-34 learning these crafts at about twice the rate of those aged 35-54. According to a survey by the trade group Craft Yarn Council, they enjoy yarn crafts because it gives them a sense of accomplishment and helps them cope with stress.
Twenty-somethings don’t spend money frivolously. Instead, they’re thoughtful and intentional about spending decisions, seeing their spending as a way to weigh in on products, causes, and even issues that matter to them. Their mindful spending decisions are already making a difference in the marketplace, as we see with the rise of companies like Tom’s and Alex and Ani, that emphasize their social consciousness and commitment to “give back.”
Perhaps trying to control things in an uncertain and unstable global world, this demographic actively seeks balance in all things. Sometimes called “clean-lifers,” today’s 20-somethings have strong ideals. They’re less tolerant and more skeptical than previous generations. They’re doing things like reducing their alcohol intake and rejecting recreational drugs. Whereas our generation seems to look at our daily workout as just one more thing on our to-do list, they see activity and fitness as an integral part of the holistic lifestyle they actively pursue.
When Becca was home for Spring Break, I took her shopping (the classic mother/daughter bonding experience!). Then I set up a photo shoot for the two of us. It was partly because I needed some images for this post. But, honestly, it was mostly because I wanted to spend time with her. The older my kids get, the more important I think it is to listen to them and ask questions carefully. I’ve noticed that if my questions come across as critical in any way, my kids will shut down. (Maybe because kids of every age are hungry for their parents’ approval.) I think it’s important to understand and accept how different their generation is from ours, and I’ve learned that sometimes asking questions isn’t the best way to go about it! I started researching 20-somethings and decided to write this post so that I could understand them better without having to ask so many questions. As I seek to develop strong, close relationships with my adult children, I want them to know that I “get” where they’re coming from, even if I don’t really “get” it. 🙂
What characteristics do you see in your 20-something kids?
Photos by Megan Weaver.