Personally, I think millennials have gotten a bad rap. They're often depicted in the media as being narcissistic, entitled, and just plain lazy. Many blame millennial parents, who are criticized for being indulgent and overly involved in their children's lives. I remember one Psychology Today writer even questioning whether our country has become one big nation of wimps.
I have to admit there's something alluring about this "blame the parents" theory of narcissism. Having worked in several college counseling centers over the years, I've seen my share of millennials and their "helicopter parents." Talk with anyone in higher-ed and they're likely to share stories of self-assured students and their doting parents who are unable to cut the chord.
I've always enjoyed working with college students but there have been times when I've asked myself: Am I sitting with a narcissist here or is this young man or woman just really resilient? Honestly, sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. True, there are definitely parents out there who infantilize their children, making it nearly impossible for them to grow into self-reliant and confident adults. When parents micro-manage their children's lives, their children can become overly dependent (not to mention, resentful) of such parental involvement and, yes, in extreme cases they may even grow up to develop a narcissistic personality disorder. On the other hand, that millennial mantra--"I can do no wrong"--has its advantages. While certainly off-putting to many of us, such narcissism doesn't always have to be maladaptive. In fact, it can even be protective, keeping a young person from falling apart during these unquestionable uncertain times.
Tyger Latham, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Washington, DC. He counsels individuals and couples and has a particular interest in sexual trauma, gender development, and LGBT concerns. His blog, Therapy Matters, explores the art and science of psychotherapy.