A new report confirms what my students have been telling me for years—young adults want to talk with their parents about love! A team of researchers at Harvard University gathered data about the love lives of over 3,000 millennials (ages 18 to 25-year-olds) and found:
The first finding is no surprise to me. The course I teach at Northwestern University, Building Loving and Lasting Relationships: Marriage 101, is the most highly sought after course on campus. It has received media attention on five continents, and over the years, we have shared elements of the curriculum with interested faculty around the country in the hopes that every young adult can have access to this kind of wholehearted relationship education.
The second finding resonates deeply with the experiences I have had working with young adults and with the parents of young adults. When I do workshops with parents, we explore:
Much of my perspective on this topic of “inter-generational love dialogs” is shaped by the fact that all of my students, graduate and undergraduate, write a Love Template Interview Paper in the courses I teach. For this assignment, my students talk with their attachment figures (usually their parents), asking questions about their experiences with love, romantic relationships, and yes, sometimes even sex, in order to make explicit all of the implicit lessons that my students, like all of us, learned as they were growing up. I have read hundreds of Love Template Interview Papers, and here is the bottom line: talking to your young adult about love is one of the most important gifts you can give them.
Your kid has been a “student” in the “classroom” of your home since the day they were born, absorbing your lessons about love simply by being there, observing you and feeling you, every day. To be sure, you were not the only one shaping their views on love. Their teachers in school, their coaches, their religious leaders, their peer group, and the media all taught them about romantic relationships as well. But, right here right now, you are well-positioned to help your young adult sift through all of the messages they are carrying about love so that they can distill the truth of who they want to be in the love stories they are now creating for themselves.
If this kind of conversation feels difficult for you, here are some things to keep in mind as you open the door to a new kind of conversation:
Are you feeling ready? If you feel unsure about that first step, I suggest that you start with a joint platform. For example:
So, parent of a millennial, you’ve got this! Let curiosity be your guide as you and your young adult talk together about the complexities of romantic relationships. Your willingness to engage, even if you feel uncomfortable, will help them make choices for themselves that are wise and healthy.
(This post originally appeared at www.dralexandrasolomon.com)