There is already a boatload of reference material noting how Millennials are changing the face of the world in consumerism, education, and attitudes. Here are a few ways to help shape the newest generation in those categories.
- Stop looking just at the fat content on nutritional labels- Millennials are known to have higher demands for healthier prepared-food choices than some other generations but with more companies getting in on the wholesome and organic movement, a lot are entering the market misleading consumers (read story here). Read the labels to ascertain sugar and salt levels, not just fat and calories. Sometimes sacrificing fat for more salt and sugar can be more detrimental, especially for those with family histories of heart disease or diabetes. Webmd has a wonderful and quick guide on fat, salt, and sugar.
- Demand quality in education. Education standards in US are becoming so politicized that we seem to be turning in circles- and continually falling behind other developed/developing countries. We must become active in our children's education early on. Ask questions and research your school's statistics for testing and curriculum. Become involved in the process. School boards need to hear from a wide variety of parents to be reminded of who and why they serve. Don't just leave it up to the same few parents to influence the decisions that impact YOUR child's future. Our parents emphasized that going to college was the golden ticket, but we know from experience that it's also the quality of the education you receive that matters - with employers wanting to know how that education can translate both in the workforce and in entrepreneurial efforts.
- Lead by example. I'm definitely guilty if this myself, telling my son not to go into rooms and wake others when they're sleeping, forgetting he's watching me wake up my mom from her nap to ask her a question. But my 3yr old is quick to remind me that he is listening and attentively watching me. "Shhh, quiet mommy! Get outta there!"
This principle applies to almost everything, including sustainability. A Northwestern University article explains the dichotomy between attitudes and action in sustainability among millennials. You can't tell your child to be conscious of the environment as you simultaneously throw empty plastic water bottles into the trash. No matter which side of the Global Warming argument you stand on, the earth is indeed changing and most of us can see it in the record-breaking temperatures and weather patterns. These issues have spanned multiple preceding generations, so let's empower and encourage the newest generation not only to be conscious of them, but also to take action. We've got to show them how important it is to love our home. I love the Disney Channel's Citizenship program; highlighting community responsibility and engagement from our youngest citizens. Let us be inspired to do more and extend our imprint upon the world through our little ones.