"Big Four" Highlights


 

Generation Forego

Millennial parents sacrifice for work-family life balance

By Jason Godin

Most statistical studies on millennials – the generation of Americans born between 1981 and 1996 – show that they’ve largely prioritized advancing their professional careers over starting a family. Looking at cents can help make sense as to why the members of the largest generation in the world workforce behave the way they do.

The average millennial in today’s U.S. workforce, for example, holds very high levels of student loan debt upon graduating from college. So it’s not surprising that paying off staggering student loans is cited by millennials as a big reason for never planning to get married and have children, or at least postponing until they’re in their late 20s to do so.

But what about the millennials, particularly the older ones today holding higher management jobs, who are married, have responsibilities as parents, and seek to satisfy the demands of both? What lengths are they willing to go to secure an equilibrium between work and family life?

A great deal, at least according to results from a recent generational work-life survey released by EY, a global professional services organization. Conducted online, the survey reveals that 67% of millennial parents who are also full-time managers found “managing personal and professional life” one of their top challenges. Nevertheless, in still striving to strike the balance, the study detailed how these millennials were willing to sacrifice work for their family by:

  • Changing jobs (77%) or careers (76%)
  • Moving their family to another location (66%), to be closer to family (62%) or another country with better parental leave benefits (38%)
  • Giving up an opportunity for promotion (65%)
  • Reducing hours (65%)
  • Stopping work to take care of their children (59%) or other family members (53%)
  • Taking a pay cut to have flexibility (44%)

 

It seems that in these sacrificial commitments, millennial parents understand (or have been forced to realize amid stress and strain) an important ingredient for everyone looking to achieve work-family life balance. The labors of work, when fueled by commitment and competence, serve to “fulfill the potential inscribed in our nature, honor the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him, provide for ourselves and for our families, and serve the human community” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 513). Within families, dutiful parents are expected not only to “love and respect their children as persons and as children of God,” but look “to provide, as far as possible, for their physical and spiritual needs” (CCCC, 460, italics in original). Sacrifice, in short, serves as a synonym for guardian, provider, accomplishment through collaboration and commitment – to work and family.

The Bible begins with God creating man and woman in his image, and calling on these creations to be “fertile and multiply” as they “fill the earth” and “subdue it” (Gen. 1:27-28). Even if they don’t acknowledge the biblical basis, working millennial parents discharge those directives to the best of their ability by balancing work and family life. They belong to a generation characterized as “Generation Go” – afraid of long-term commitments, both professional and personal. But perhaps it is time to start seeing millennial parents as leading lights of “Generation Forego” – one unafraid to commit to sacrifice, who are effectively balancing work and family life as they do so.

Jason Godin is associate editor of Fathers for Good.