“Millenia Women”? –What the Heck is Going On?

Words from a familiar Christmas carol reverberate in my brain: “Do you hear what I hear?” This time, however, the words are not accompanied by a melodic tune; just hard cold numbers that have caught my attention. Did you know that young women who are entering adult life (18 to approximately 32) are called, “Millenia Women”, and that their life goals are about a millenium away from those of their grandmothers’? Here are the stats reported on CNN from a recent study of what this group of American women want:

(1) Independence-96%,

(2) Children-68%,

(3) Marriage-50%,

(4) Wealth-38%.

Wow! What a difference a generation makes! These statistics are so-o o different from those of my generation. When I came of age in the 1960’s, I believe the #1 goal of most of my college friends was to get married. True, it was a strong desire among us to marry someone who held the promise of a wealthy future lifestyle—a man’s potential to achieve highly was a strong selection factor. Next would come the desire to have children and raise them to be successful contributors, gainfully employed, and of kind, generous, character. If we were to accomplish this one, our old age would be “insured” by caring, well-off offspring. The notion that unmarried young women would live independent lives was only perceived plausible in the context of living independently from our mothers. The last thing we wanted to do was to either remain single at home or be forced by circumstances to return to Mom’s nest (and nagging). Our fervent prayer was to be saved from such a curse as that would have been!

What is ironic is that, in spite of my generation’s lofty aspirations to have great marriages and to raise brilliant, caring children, most of us lived lives that were closely reflective of the desires of today’s “Millenia” Women—we worked long hours in our careers, left our children with baby-sitters, and paid little attention to our marriages. Our results, as it turns out, were dismal. For example, It is hard to find couples from the 60’s and 70’s (my era) that are still married—let alone happily so. Divorce was rampant in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s—just about the time that today’s young women were waking up to life around them. What they saw was often a parade of boyfriends and girlfriends who were absorbing their parents’ affection while holding their own childhood needs for security at bay.

Additionally, family finances often took a huge hit as homes and bank accounts went splintering in every direction by the divorce process. Many of these young ladies held on by a thin thread through the turmoil of their mothers’ travail, post-divorce. At that time, mothers usually ended up with the house and the kids, while fathers set their sails for other, more alluring, shores. My guess is that many, if not most, of the really alert girls took careful notes and made the decision early-on to never be a victim of that type of circumstance. As I have said many times before, “more is caught than is taught.”

The survey results, if they are significant indicators of future trends, will have to give us all pause. Do you really hear what I hear? If today’s Millenia Women value their independence more than marriage or children, and if they’d rather be rich than compromised by family, where is our society headed? I will acknowledge that wealth is better than poverty, and that it is poverty that is the millstone of the majority of young mothers; married or not. Certainly, we should aim to alleviate this burdensome problem. The question is, where is the balance struck? Is there still a place for wholesome male-female relationships in unions called marriage? Is it possible to procreate, as in the olden days, stay together, and still raise mentally and physically healthy children? Is it okay to want the children without or more than marriage? I believe that African Americans don’t really have a choice in this matter; that we have to confront this issue head-on in dialogue in all of our common settings—church, sororities, fraternities, clubs, school—everywhere. We have got to talk! There is peril in our choices.

Call me out on this if you like, but I will invite you to just look around. Who do you see finishing college and assuming responsible positions in the workplace and in society? Who is doing the heavy lifting of black society? Now look again, who do you see without skills, money, jobs or entrepreneurships? . . . It’s not Millenia Women—especially not the African American ones! Somehow, we are going to have to right our ship if our race of people is to survive. Otherwise, I fear, we will sail right off the cliff of a world flattened by ignorance and complacency.

By the way, I’m not the first to say this; check out “The Souls of Black Folks”, W.E.B. Dubois, Random House, 1996. History has a way of clarifying perspective.




One Response to ““Millenia Women”? –What the Heck is Going On?”

  1. Marilyn Johnson Says:

    Well stated. I reluctantly agree.

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