MOST of the research on Millennials are completely irrelevant to the Millennials based in Asia, especially Singapore.
This is because most of the institutions that have conducted such research on Millennials totally neglect the effect of Culture that is vastly different in Asia from the West. In fact, most of the content you find on the internet and even in academic study today is based solely on the western culture.
One of the key differences between Asian and Western culture is the communicative style.
In a Western Culture, the common belief is that
“A human being has an individualistic nature and is an independent part of the Universe and the society. Individualism is stronger”
whereas in the Asian Culture
“A human being is an integral part of the Universe and the society. People are fundamentally connected. Duty towards all others is a very important matter. Collectivism is stronger.”
Source: Eastern versus Western Philosophy: Differences and Similarities. Cultural Intelligence: World Cultures by Bibikova, A & Kotelnikov, V.
It has been long known that the cultures vary from continents to countries, but we have settled to understand that the culture in the west and east vary quite a bit. This is to help us understand one another better and the different ways we communicate.
It is really naive to quote Globalisation as a factor to group all Millennials, especially those in Asia, together with Millennials from the West. There are many factors that come to mind when we scrutinise the differences and I want to highlight the salient points here.
Best-Selling Author of the book, ‘Leaders Eat Last’ Simon Sinek, whose video on Millennials went viral (see below)
shared that one of the biggest influences on Millennials is Parenting. So it is important to realise that a lot of the Parenting Styles involved in raising the Millennial generation differ from East to West.
Parenting Styles: Raising children differently in different cultures
Even from young, babies are placed in a separate room from day one. Western babies are trained to soothe themselves to sleep whereas, in the East, the babies sleep in the same room as the parents, providing immediate comfort when required.
Western Parents believe in empowering their infants to feed themselves on their own, albeit it may be a little messy. Beyond bottle feeding, meals are usually placed in front of the child. Every meal resembles an exploration and it usually starts with the child’s attempt to hold the plastic spoon or fork. If this fails, the child will attempt to reach for the soft broccoli, carrots, or other food items with his/her hands and subsequently, aim for the mouth. Mostly, the child will miss its mouth, and create a mess.
While this is a common scenario in most western households, such practices are less common in the eastern cultures.
However, Parents in the East are very concerned about tidiness, efficiency, and generally, have the need to feed their children until they are old enough. They believe it increases the bond between the parent and the child and is highly encouraged.
As you can see, the culture in the West has always had a focus on Individualism and Independence. We see this clearly where youths go through the rite-of-passage and leave their parents’ home to live on their own, being independent. It is the first step in the transition to adulthood. At this age, they are expected to find their own jobs and pay their own bills. It was unheard of to see the young adults return to their family homes unless it is for visits during summer or holidays.
However, in Asia, this is not the case. Asians have always believed in a having a joint family. No child or teenager is required to leave the home at 18 to fend for themselves in the name of independence. In fact, children typically stay with their parents till they marry and move out on their own unless their job locations require them to move out.
One of the factors that contribute to the view and the Media Hype that Millennials are ‘lazy, spoon fed and entitled’ is due to ‘Bad Parenting’. Parents (in the west) are known to ‘coddle’ the Millennials – in the form of accepting Millennials back home even after they’ve passed the age of 18.
This is increasingly becoming a common sight and many who are used to the conventional way of ‘How things were’ are not too happy about it.
As a result, many subjective opinions are formed over Millennials who stay with their parents that then transforms into an ugly stereotype that affects Millennials in general, even if you are Asian.
This is where we need to draw the line.
These stereotypes of Millennials being lazy, entitled and spoon fed by helicopter parents cannot apply to Millennials in Asia in this particular instance. Parenting styles play an important role in how youths are brought up.
There may be other factors that contribute to the stereotypes of ‘lazy’, ‘entitled’ or ‘spoon fed’ but it is unfair to group the Millennials in Asia under the same stereotypes because living with parents until Marriage has always been the norm and highly encouraged.
As Millennials today prefer living with parents, companies worry that acceptance of such practices will only prove to make the Millennials more dependent (‘lazy’) rather than independent.
And hence, the generalisation of an entire generation ensues and you begin to notice a pattern. This is merely one instance of how the cycle begins. There are multiple other contributors that perpetuate this cycle.
With differing cultures between the East and the West, it is high time we take a closer look at the differences between Millennials from the different regions and stop generalising the entire generation based solely on Western Media Hype and Hearsay. There needs to be more research that is Asia-based for Organisations based in Asia to have a deeper understanding of the Millennial Question. If you do know of any such research, please point them my way!
I hope you enjoyed this article. If you are a #Millennial or you are a manager who works with #Millennials, do let me know your take on the #Millennial #Question, For more interesting content on #Millennials, check out my website www.vivek-iyyani.com and feel free to follow me on Facebook at @authorvivekiyyani, Instagram and Twitter both at @you_millennial.
#Empowering #Millennials #Culture #Parenting #Workplace #Conflicts