How to Empower Your Millennial: A Parent's Guide

Spending habits, office politics, interpersonal relationships, and more: we may not realize it, but our parents make an indelible mark in how we approach professional development. Growing up, my parents helped me develop a realistic view of the world that has structured how I approach both personal and professional relationships, and I'm very grateful to them for that.

If you are the parent of a millennial, trying to figure out how to encourage and motivate your child as they set out on their career path, you are not alone! Rest assured that you can help shape your child's career - without veering into helicopter territory. I'm sharing a few helpful principles to keep in mind as you guide your millennial through their fledgling careers.

Be Real About the Real World
Growing up, my parents were very honest with me about how challenging the "real world" can be. Their advice was equal parts realism and motivation: not everyone will be your friend; You have to work hard to achieve your goals. You can achieve your goals, but it's going to be hard work.

I thought this parentally-doled dose of real talk was a common practice until spending time with friends in my undergrad years. Many of them had a very sheltered view of the world, believing that getting a job would be an easy-peasy two-week process, that they would be friends with their coworkers from day one. As we know, this is often not the case.

I'm certainly not saying that I came out perfect (far from it), but being equipped for challenges meant that I had a secret weapon in the face of adversity: resilience. When the hardships of adult life hit, I found that the friends who were equipped with facts about the real world were able to transition into their careers faster than those who were not.

As much as possible, try to teach your millennial the importance of resilience. Their career path will never be smooth, and they will thank you for teaching them the importance of bouncing back when times get tough.

Help Them Meet a Mentor
Nowadays, the saying "Your network is your networth" rings very true. Time and time again, I hear stories about new career opportunities that friends or colleagues obtained by expanding their network.

I'm a firm believer that the combination of cultivating networking relationships and building your professional acumen go hand in hand in helping you develop a better career path. One of the best ways I've found to combine both of those important habits is through a mentor-mentee relationship. Unfortunately, finding a mentor can be a tricky, if not humbling, process.

Help your child get a leg up against the competition by giving them the gift of a hand-picked, curated mentor. I started a mentor-matching company called The Mentor Method that aims to connect young professionals with inspirational leaders in different fields because I truly believe that a mentor can be instrumental in not only helping your millennial snag and keep the job they want, but more importantly, attaining their goals. Whether it's a Mentor Method mentor, a former colleague or a neighbor, connecting your child to experts who can help them navigate the career landscape will make a world of a difference in their future.

Share Responsible Spending Habits & Be Transparent With Your Finances
Have you ever noticed that, despite our best efforts, we sometimes inherit the bad habits of our parents? That's why it often falls to you to teach your millennial responsible spending habits by example.

We recruited the expert advice of Patrick Norman, senior loan officer at First Heritage in Fairfax VA, who has been in the business for 14 years. During his time helping people devise the most beneficial financial arrangements, he says that he has seen both good and bad deeds from parents trying to help their child's financial situation.

He advises that parents be transparent with their spending habits, "help your child understand the family budget, income, expenses, investing, etc - don't be overly secretive with your finances." He urges parents to share as much information as they can.

Credit is also key when you're teaching responsible financial habits, he says: " Help your children understand the benefits and risks of credit cards, and of course, help them understand that they should only charge what they can pay off each month, to avoid interest - and even rack up rewards/cashback." He even suggests adding your child as an authorized user on a credit card early on, so that they can start building their own credit. He adds that chatting with your children about important subjects like depreciation and budgeting is a good way to reinforce positive spending habits.

Find Opportunities to Build Professionalism Together
Professionalism includes so many components that we may not be aware of - avoiding "upspeak", responding to emails in 24 hours, creating work/life boundaries and much more. We don't often discuss these life lessons at the dinner table.

Try to make a concerted effort to seek out opportunities to share professional growth with your child. Next time you make a date with your millennial, seek out events or lectures in your city that will help to foster professionalism. Be creative and intentional: form an informal book club and pick a different book each week that will help to spark conversation around topics like professional development. Point out inspirational people in their field and chat about how they got to where they are. The Mentor Method often hosts events for mentees and mentors to mingle - tag along with your millennial (if they'll let you)!

Teach Them How to Turn Off
This might seem like I'm contradicting myself. Although it's important to have those intense conversations about goals and aspirations with your millennial, knowing how to "turn off" is key to their overall productivity and happiness (and yours!) Creating boundaries between work and home life is important - we know that our productivity declines after 50 hours in the office a week, and we know that deriving enjoyment from a fulfilling family life makes us all the more productive in the office.

It can be incredibly tempting to keep our cell phone at the dinner table, checking constantly for new emails. It can be almost impossible to ignore that work email that comes in after 8 pm, but dedicated time to unwind is just as important as productivity measures and answered emails. When you spend time with your millennial, make sure that you're not distracted by your phone - set aside dedicated, quality time, and try to talk about something other than work.

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So there you have it, a few ways that you can help your millennial as they start down the unchartered path toward their aspirations. Whether it's their first job out of college or a rough career transition, your support and advice means more than you know.