Perhaps your perceptions of my generation are similar to those (sarcastically) outlined in this clip. An entitled, narcissistic collective with limited focus. An amoral, irreligious group of 20-somethings addicted to sex, alcohol, and the Internet. An irreverent population with limited respect for authority–note the sarcasm in the youtube video. An irresponsible, lazy demographic unwilling to do things themselves and take ownership of their own problems.
Maybe some of these are true. After all, our generation was the first to struggle with the breakdown of the nuclear family. Demographers show that divorce rates peaked in the late 70s, where, perhaps due to the legalization of no-fault divorces, a reported 23 of every 1000 marriages ended. Though divorce rates (a statistical anomaly, as this author explains) have declined since then, our families of origin have been haunted by the myth 50% of marriages will end in divorce.
Perhaps that’s why I became a couples therapist. I believe in the power of lifelong commitment, and have been surrounded by couples in older generations who deeply love each other. My adolescent self feared that my parents would become a casualty to divorce when they argued, but as I’ve aged and moved away from home, I realize that their marriage has never been stronger.
My passion for couples therapy is rooted in my understanding of family systems theory, which states that families must have clear patterns of communication, boundaries, and leadership structures in order to succeed. Millennials have been reared in an inverted society that tells us that we, a group of kids and teenagers, are the most important thing. Our parents have been taught that successful parenting involves meeting our tangible (rather than biological) needs. Successful parents bend over backwards to drive us to numerous extracurricular activities. Successful parents buy us the right clothes and technological advances. The inmates run the prison, and unfortunately, that pattern seems to have continued for post-millennial generations.
Systems theory suggests that the most important dyad in the nuclear family system is the committed relationship between adults. I believe that the most influential work I can do with a family system is providing quality couples therapy. In May, I will be 30. Both my sister and my sister-in-law have children. It’s our turn to develop nuclear families, and our families can maintain greater continuity by placing greater emphasis on the relationship between partners, mom and dad, husband and wife.
Many future blog posts will present conversations on maintaining healthy relationships. I’m somewhat addicted to research journals, so blog posts will shy away from “Ten Ways to ____” and tend to focus on more theoretical issues. I’m also interested in research on social issues pertaining to the millennial generation, specifically around relationship building and family formation. Occasionally I’ll post thoughts from my own relationship, but only if I get the go-ahead from my wife.
I’m excited to begin this journey with the blogosphere. Please let me know what feedback you have as we go along.