11 Mar

Why most of the research on Millennials cannot be applied in Asia

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Asian woman drinking coffee in vintage color tone

It’s 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.

As Simon Sinek shared that one of the biggest influencers of Millennials is Parenting, it brings to light that a lot of the Parenting Styles involved in raising the Millennials differ from Millennials in the East to Millennials in the West.

Parenting Styles: Raising Children Differently

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.

This process will continue for a while or until the child becomes frustrated and starts to throw the food items on the floor. This is when the plastic floor mat, which is placed beneath the feeding chair, comes in handy. 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 goes through the rite-of-passage and leave their parents’ home to live on their own, being independent. It is the first step in transition to adulthood. At this age, they are expected to find their own jobs and pay for 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.

And as many of us have heard or seen, the Media Hype over Millennials being ‘lazy, spoon fed and entitled’ is contributed from ‘Bad Parenting’.

This is because parents in the west today are accommodating the Millennials as they continue to stay in their parents’ homes. 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 in the West who stay with their parents that forms into a stereotype that affects Millennials in general, even if you are an Asian Millennial.

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.

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. There needs to be more research that is Asia based for companies based in Asia to have a deeper understanding of the Millennial Question.

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, feel free to follow me here on this blog or on the Social Media (see links above)

Vivek Iyyani