JOHN FISKE: I say that for sex!
JUDY WOODRUFF: We begin in San Diego.
JOHN FISKE: Does anybody want wine?
JUDY WOODRUFF: At the home of John and Katie Fiske.
They met in the dorm, first day, freshman year, at San Diego State, and were married four years later at the end of his first year in law school.
He now works at a law firm, while she teaches fourth grade at a largely immigrant charter school.
JUDY WOODRUFF: You two seem to be sort of—pretty together for your age. You’re both, what, 23 years old? You're married. You're both working. You've both been to graduate school. You've been to law school. You have it together. How did that happen?
JOHN FISKE: You know, I'm not sure if we're more together. We have a nice appearance of being together, because we decided to do all those things that our parents told us to do: go to school, get through school early. We decided to be traditional and get married once we fell in love and wanted to get married.
A more traditional generation
JUDY WOODRUFF: "Traditional?" "Do the things our
parents told us to do?"
While Gen Nexters may have more tattoos and piercings than their
elders, they are not the rebellious youth of their parents’
generation. William Strauss and Neil Howe have written several
books about today's young people.
WILLIAM STRAUSS, co-author, Millennials Rising: The crime rate is down, teen pregnancies, teen births are at the lowest level ever measured. And this is the result of our society making a statement really back in the '80s when they started to be born. We wanted to raise a very, very different kind of generation that would behave better.
JUDY WOODRUFF: One result of this parenting revolution…is the unprecedented closeness Gen Nexters have to their families.
WILLIAM STRAUSS: We've never in the history of polling seen young people get along with their parents and vice-versa, as now. And one consequence of this is that their values tend to reflect what their parents have in mind, so they have relatively conventional values.
A different adulthood
JUDY WOODRUFF: Still, there are important markers that distinguish Generation Next from their predecessors.
John Fiske says his peers have learned from their parents’ experiences, and take a different approach to life and adulthood.
JOHN FISKE: Let's take work, for example. They look at their parents'
lives and they think to themselves, "My parents hate their
jobs. Why would I want to try to commit to one thing my entire
life and grumble about it for 40 years?"
Let's take marriage, for example. A lot of parents are divorced, and their kids see their parents are divorced. Why would they jump into marriage if they think it's a horrible thing?
JUDY WOODRUFF: If that's the case, why did you do it?
JOHN FISKE: To be honest, I fell in love really fast. And at heart I’m a huge nerd. And I loved being in school, and I did want to start a career early, just because I enjoy the law.
WILLIAM STRAUSS: Anybody who is around young people in the workplace or in college is struck by—how confident they are about their own abilities and about their own future. They feel a lot of stress. They feel very pressured. So the time is just not enough for them to get done everything they want to get done.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What kind of stress are you talking about?
JOHN FISKE: That we go through? Oh, lord. How long is the interview? (laughter)
For me, it's the fact that I try to fit absolutely everything on my plate all at once, whereas some people start to spread it out throughout their lifetime, throughout their twenties. Being a new associate at the firm is very stressful. We now have a mortgage that we have to pay. We want to have kids someday, so we want to get everything in order by the time we want to have kids.
Life as a radio host
MALE ANNOUNCER: Time for the voice of the next generation.
FEMALE ANNOUNCER: For the next three hours you're going to have
to talk, talk, talk, talk... ;We're going to have fun tonight...
JOHN FISKE: Are you ready for this?...I'm actually going to set
an age limit for this show...
JOHN FISKE: What threw a monkey wrench in the gears.... I then
added on the radio show, and that added so much stress to the
point where we see each other half an hour in the morning and
a half an hour at night, in between Monday and Friday.
KATIE FISKE: If that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: John's passion for issues affecting his generation
led him to create a radio program with childhood friends Kris
White and Brent Williams.
JOHN FISKE: We talk about everything that has to do with Generation Y and nothing that doesn't.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Gen Nexters were born after the major movement of women into the workforce. With both parents working outside the home, many children, like John Fiske, found themselves in some form of child care.
JOHN FISKE: I loved it, I thought it was great because you were forced to interact with people other than your parents. You weren't babied as much, you weren't coddled as much and treated like a little prince as much. You had to go out and interact with other human beings.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Did your mother work while you were growing up?
KATIE FISKE: She did, she worked part-time, though. So she took me to school, picked me up. So I didn't know that she worked. She worked when I was at school. And then she was home to help me with my homework and to take me to practice and to play. And so, she was able to do both.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Would you like to raise your children pretty much the way you were raised?
KATIE FISKE: Definitely, definitely.
JOHN FISKE: And see, it's funny, because she wants to stay home with the kids. Which I think is more considered a traditional view nowadays, where women are supposed to leave their kids and go back into the work force. And there's that double pressure of trying to raise your kids and also being a working woman. Which is ironic, because she is saying that she would like to stay home with her kids. And I'm saying, "No, no, no. Let's-- you know, let's get daycare for them, and you can go back and make some money for us as a couple."
And she doesn't like that. So it's almost a switch of what our
parents' generation dealt with, with a lot of women feeling the
pressure to stay home with their kids. She's saying, I don't feel
that pressure at all. In fact, I prefer--
KATIE FISKE: If they're my children, I would like to raise them.
I think that that's very important. I'm very excited to have children
together. I'm just excited for the time to be right, because --
it's not right, right now. We're not ready.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Although Katie and John's decision to marry at a young
age is a generational anomaly, waiting to have children reflects
a trend among young people today.
Since we visited with the Fiskes, John decided to cut back his commitment to Gen Y Radio so he could spend more time with his wife. But he got more than he expected; without him, the program is no longer on the air.
As for how best to raise their children...
JUDY WOODRUFF: You think you'll come to an agreement on this thing?
JOHN FISKE: We'll probably---
KATIE FISKE: Oh yeah.
JOHN FISKE: I'll probably create a contract.
KATIE FISKE: No. (laughter)
JOHN FISKE: I'll see an independent counselor for that.
KATIE FISKE: Stop!
JOHN FISKE: I'll see some attorneys for that. We'll come together. There will be negotiations.