Overcoming Millennial Paralysis

By Scott Keith


What is “Millennial Paralysis”? Millennial Paralysis is the unparalleled sense of dread faced by one who is a Millennial, when confronted with a task for which they have not received explicit instruction. This dread, in turn, induces a state of mental and physical paralysis which can only be healed when the young person is provided a clear, certain, and explicitly detailed set of directions.

Case and point: a Millennial college student is directly asked by the professor to give his or her analysis concerning a subject discussed in class. Immediately the student asks, “will this count for points?” To which the professor answers, “no.” With an ever-increasing sense of trepidation, the student then asks, “was it something you said in class, or was it in the readings?” To which the professor answers, “Not specifically, I am hoping that you can share with us your personal analysis of the material covered, not just a parroting back of what I, or the reading said.” Consequently, the student stares off into space, unable to move, paralyzed with fear and trepidation.

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Is this real? Yes! Teenagers and young adults in the so-called Millennial generation struggle with this type of paralysis daily. Why? They have been taught, intentionally, to be indecisive. They have been indoctrinated with intentional indecision taught to them in the form of inclusion, open-mindedness, multiculturalism, and tolerance. Additionally they have spent their lives lived in the bubble of a society that is completely focused on their security and comfort and guaranteed these things by over programming their every move. This indecision creates doubts; doubt creates fear, and, in turn, fear creates paralysis.

Every day I encounter either a student or a worker who feels as though they have not been given enough “guidance” to get the assigned task done.

Never mind the 20-page syllabus they’ve been handed that attempts to communicate, in detail, every assignment. Never mind the 1000-word email which has attempted to elucidate every nuance of the assigned task. If one detail is missed, if one jot or tittle is missing from the list of instructions, paralysis, and inaction results. Now before I get hordes of comments and email saying that I hate Millennials, rest assured I do not, though I am not too pleased with their parents. Overall I appreciate that they are fairly tech-savvy, globally connected, conscientious, and they seem, on the whole, to be a compassionate bunch. But their parents have not taught them to act or think. They have learned to take notes, do exactly what is asked, and take tests. They have not learned to integrate knowledge, improvise by adapting that knowledge, or make a cogent decision based on knowledge already learned. Again, they are not to blame; their parents are.


So why have we, as parents, failed this generation. I think we were scared. I think that we either wanted more for them than what we had or wanted them to experience less of real life, too early, like we were forced to do. The problem is that we have so insulated them that we’ve passed our fear onto them, and it is now their fear. While our fear caused us to act by “over-parenting,” their fear is causing only inaction. Millennial Paralysis does not need to be as epidemic as it currently is. We need to expect great things for our children. We need to expect that they can do things on their own. We need to expect them to do things on their own. We need to allow them to live, and risk and fail. And when they fail our expectations and theirs, as they will do, we need to forgive them and help them to fix it, not fix it for them. Only when they know that they need to be the ones to do something, with our help, guidance, and forgiveness as needed, will they then do great things. As long as they are operating only out of fear, they will continue to be helpless and paralyzed.

I’ve said it before; fear is of the Law and the Law always, and only, accuses and condemns. The intent of the Law is to paralyze. Freedom is of the Gospel, and it is scary business. Once our children are free who knows what might happen. They might fail. They might get hurt. They might do wrong. But they will be free, and in being free will have experienced in some small measure, in a real-life, every day sort of way an analogy of Gospel freedom. We are free to be their parents, and they are free to be our children. God has called them and we to these callings in the freedom He has laid before us on account of Christ. Let us then parent from the perspective of freedom not fear, so that our children learn to live as a people who are not bound by terror, but free to be what God has called them to be.