Parenting — How to Help Your Millennial Develop Character in an Ethics-Starved World

by Danita Bye , Christian Post Contributor |

I called my first millennial leadership coach­ing group "The Joshua Initiative." In the ancient world, a great patriarch, Moses, mentored another great leader, Joshua. This intergenerational mentoring relationship went on for approximately forty years before the mentee eventually became the leader.

As we see experienced, character-based leaders retire, we know that our world desperately needs young Christian leaders, like Joshua, to become valuable employees in the companies they work for and the communities they live in. Remember, Joshua became Joshua because he had Moses.

Here's the critical question for each of us to consider: Will you be Moses for the Joshua in your life?

In our recent Millennial Survey, over 50 percent of leaders indicated that they were concerned about working with millennials because of character-based issues such as a know-it-all attitude, a lack of accountability, a lack of determination, and poor conflict resolution skills. To be fair, we should admit it's not only millennials who are struggling. Character—or a lack thereof—impacts our everyday, work-a-day world. People cave in to what is easy over what is right. Many will lie without blinking an eye in order to get ahead. Scores of promising leaders choose to play the blame game instead of taking personal responsibility for their behaviors and choices. Others abandon projects as soon as the first obstacle appears.

During the many hours I've talked with trusted mentors, colleagues, family, and friends, one realization has stood out: Millions of young adults struggle to find their footing.

As you're coaching and mentoring your millennial in this life stage, your challenge is to build a center of character strength that provides a firm footing, so that he or she will have a positive influence in the midst of a tumultuous world.

As a parent of a millennial, what is your role in assisting your millennial to develop solid character in an ethics-starved world?

You are one of the most important mentors and coaches who might assist your millennial to deal with the character challenges in his or her life. We want them to be able to look inside themselves and find the areas where they need to change.

How to Help Your Millennial Develop a Courageous Character Core

The Absent Role Model

Some millennial leaders never have the opportunity to experience the influence of a positive role model who exemplifies the power of courageous, character-based living and leading.

Possible Reaction: In my work, I find that millennials who lacked character development in their developmental years tend to avoid daunting challenges. The result is that they have little influence and struggle to gain the respect of others.

Practical Tip: Start by creating a safe environment where character issues (even sensitive ones) can be openly shared and discussed in a nonjudgmental way. Work with your millennial to establish a healthier parenting structure. Prioritize accountability and high standards, coupled with a strong support system and copious encouragement. Instead of lecturing your millennial, I find that emerging leaders respond well when they get to hear about your fears and failures, what moti­vated you to push through discouragement, and what you learned from your mistakes. You can ask your up-and-coming leader how your experiences might apply to their current situation. Then listen and ask questions to understand their perspectives.

Read more about How to Help Your Millennial Develop Character on The Christian Post.