There have always been inter-generational biases, but Millennials still feel like an odd group of people to be constantly dumping on. For one thing, many of the people complaining about Millennials belong to the generation that actually raised them (if they’re so upset about “participation rewards,” why did they hand them out?) and for another, it’s not like Millennials are inheriting the best circumstances. Economic recession, natural disasters… We can't seem to catch a break and are simultaneously being blamed for it all.
Anyway, the point is that it’s easy to slam on Millennials when they do anything different than their predecessors instead of recognizing that some things are just different. Think about how much has changed in the past 100 years!
Objectively, Millennials are proving to parent differently than Baby Boomers. Does that have to be a bad thing? Of course not. It’s just a thing that’s changed, and if a person subscribes to even the vaguest ideas of evolution, they'll know it’s most likely that the parenting techniques that have survived are the better ones.
Will Millennials make their own mistakes for their children to correct? Of course. What past generation has ever not been ladened with the burden and inspiration of their ancestors?
Feature Image: YouTube @The Jackson Hive
20 They Don't Just Rely On People For Parenting Advice
Arguably, the greatest gift Millennials have to offer is a willingness to discuss previously taboo issues. And like, science and technology (fingers crossed). So, where other generations either kept their issues to themselves or consulted trusted confidantes and family, Millennials are more prone to look for their answers online.
According to the director of the well-established institution Zero To Three, a parenting research think tank, "The good news is that parents know more about child development than ever before… Google is the new grandparent, the new neighbor, the new nanny.” It sounds inhumane, but at least most of that information (the good stuff, more so) was written by caring people and not bots.
19 They Feel Overcome By All The Expertise
Here’s the kicker to having all the information in the world: it’s too much. One mother told the NY Times, "We feel like kids who aren’t old enough to have kids.” Parents have so much more information on child development available to them; information that was once reserved only for experts. That’s a gift and a burden. When an app is telling you that your 2-month-old ought to be sleeping this specific amount of minutes, it’s easy to ignore your intuition and get more hung up on the numbers and graphs.
Information is so much more widely available, but there’s only so much research you can do when your children are more deserving of that attention.
18 Social Media Handles Can Affect Naming
This sounds like a Baby Boomer urban myth about Millennials and it’s definitely an extreme case, but parents are reserving a Twitter handle factored into their baby’s naming. So we’re assuming she won’t grow up to use a great pun? Noted. Here’s what one parent said, “I knew I wanted to name her Bryn, but when considering middle names, there were a couple of ‘A’ names we were thinking about. We chose Bryn Avery because I could get the Twitter handle @BrynAvery.” This does seem silly, but it's not harmful to anyone so is there really a point in deriding these parents?
17 They're Meme-Shy
Millennial parents aren’t just accustomed to the power and ubiquity of social media- they’re also aware of the endless cautionary tales about social media gone wrong. One mother said, “I like taking pictures of my kids walking away, so I avoid showing their faces… I have this fear that if I post a picture on Instagram, then my child will become a meme.” Honestly, that's smart. One totally forgivable baby picture involving a less than flattering expression or especially funny eyes won’t just be shown to a significant other in two decades — it’ll make it’s way across so many awful sites.
16 Definitely Shutter Bugs
Some parents may have the foresight to establish these guidelines, but that doesn’t limit the number of pictures they or others take. Business Insider said, "A poll conducted by TIME and Survey Monkey found that just 19% of Millennial parents have never shared a photo of their kids on social media, compared to 30% of Gen X parents and 53% of Baby Boomer parents.” Of course, this factors into the age of the child; older parents are probably posting proud statuses, whereas Millennials can ride on the coattails of how cute a baby is (hello, likes). That said, it’s a definite cultural change.
15 Only One-Third Follow Gender Roles Completely
It’s a stark difference from the Mad Men-esque interactions of Millennials' grandparents. The NY Times found that ”a third of Millennial families follow traditional gender roles… Another third of them say spouses should share chores equally and feel they achieve this goal, while the final third strive for this equality but the female partner, in reality, does more.”
The openness to acknowledge a gap between your ideals and how your relationship actually operates (with the female partner taking on more) takes a trust and comfort in a marriage that just isn't possible when gender roles aren’t discussed. So while it’s impressive that a full third buck gender roles, it’s also amazing that a third know they fall short.
14 Some Terms Are Being Tossed
It’s easy to roll your eyes at someone refusing to use some of the most established terms in the language, but these days many don’t feel like those terms simply reflect their experience. One father told the NY Times, “The No. 1 thing I learned is that my language changed… I don’t say ‘mother’ and ‘father’ anymore. I say ‘co-parent.’ It sounds odd to people in the Midwest, but it’s more reflective of what we’re trying to do.” It might be odd to talk to someone and hear them use this different wording, but it’s a lot less weird than how they’d feel talking about their family in a way that feels untruthful.
13 The Dads Are More Likely To Be Inspired By The Mothers
While more fathers are aware of the ways they have it compared to moms, they’re trying to bridge that gap. A child development expert was quoted as saying, “Millennial dads are different than their elders, in that they see it as a positive masculine trait to be involved with their children… The idea that women are more proactively issuing feedback to their co-parents that are male to me sounds very encouraging. It’s an indication that they see each other as partners.”
It can’t be overstressed. It’s great if a man is already living up to this ideal, but what really matters is an ability to hear constructive criticism and improve to become closer to that ideal.
12 Stay-At-Home Dads Are More Of A Thing
There’s a lot of elements at play here, but the dream of women integrated into the workplace is coming true in some ways. "The number of fathers who do not work outside the home has risen markedly in recent years, up to 2 million in 2012, according to Pew Research Center. That number of stay-at-home fathers has nearly doubled since 1.1 million in 1989,” Baby Gaga notes. Some may scoff at this, but it sounds like a win-win. It's the same way that some women want to be stay at home regardless of the politics of it, some fathers are better meant for that life.
11 They're Not Fully Financially Independent
And now for an objective downside… Millennial parents may have children, but they don’t feel fully grown up. Financially, that is. “Other moms I talk to who are 35 or 40 seem to be more settled financially… It feels weird when I say, ‘My mom is taking care of my kid.’ I even use the word ‘mother’ because it sounds more adult,” NY Times notes. It’s a little humiliating to feel like, for all the differences and ideas of how you’ll parent differently, your parents were objectively more financially stable when you were the age your child is.
We equate success with money, so why wouldn’t it feel this way?
10 They're Crossing A Religious Divide
Fans of equality and the sameness of humanity, rejoice! People who are like, “but what do they celebrate?” and honestly think that’s less important than the unique love of a family (that probably has their own traditions), well, bad news for y’all. "Pew has found that almost four in 10 Americans married since 2010 have a spouse who is a different religious group, double the number from 1960... The one thing they’re teaching [children is]… some people get value from religion, and he might, too, as long as he realizes that what’s good for him might not be great for another.”
9 They're Waiting To Have Children
With how many children now live with Millennial parents, the generation is making significant changes in the average age for having a first child. They’ve pushed that age back by a few years, which sounds minor, but is fairly enormous when you consider the widespread trends this indicates. "According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, in 1980, it was 22.7. In 2013, it was 26.” For a generation accused of imitating media like Juno and Teen Mom, nice work. It’s almost like sharing experiences about early motherhood makes people think a ton about their lives and exactly what they want.
8 They're Less Concerned About Screen Time
No one’s entirely sure yet, but it’s starting to look like Millennials are one of the few generations who don’t complain about "this new technology.”
"According to a Common Sense Media study, 38 percent of children under the age of 2 have used a mobile device. Though Generation X mothers were very concerned about screen time, and research has shown that it can cause some behavior issues, millennial moms grew up with technology, and they don't worry about it so much.” There’s less taboo, but then again, there’s also the addictiveness of technology when exposed to anyone, let alone a young child.
7 They're Having Fewer Kids
Passionate supporters of big-box chains like Toys 'R’ Us will lament and those concerned with the wellbeing of the environment and overpopulation will hold their tongues and secretly be pleased (or just less stressed). "Birth rates among women in their twenties dropped by 15 percent between 2007 and 2012, according to the Urban Institute. Four years later 2016 brought a record low for fertility—the CDC estimates only 62 births per 1,000 women.” Money Under 30 states. This sounds less like a dystopian nightmare where birthrates taper off and more like people are enjoying their lives as adults and professionals.
6 They're Ditching The Traditional Names
If you’re already sick of all the ways to spell “Braden,” I really don’t know what to tell you. It’ll probably get worse and you can only really complain if you’re a public school teacher who has to learn all these names. But that’s only because you’re (probably) underpaid. It’s the cost of doing business, but unconventional baby names have gone mainstream in a big way. A one percentage hike has been in baby naming per Baby Gaga, "60 percent of the Millennial moms surveyed said it is important. That compares to 44 percent of Gen Xers and 35 percent of Baby Boomers."
5 They Believe In Themselves Than Ever Before
The good intentions and errors of Baby Boomer-parents has had time to reveal itself, but you know what? If you strip down the details of Baby Boomer parenting philosophies to the need for a child to believe in themselves, in many ways this generation succeeded. That can be seen in modern parent’s confidence in what they’re doing. "A Pew Research Center survey found that 57% of Millennial moms say they are doing a very good job as a parent, compared to 48% of Gen X moms and 41% of Baby Boomer moms.” No one just wakes up with that kind of self-belief — it’s an intergenerational project to instill it.
4 They Know They're Too Generous With Compliments
Who knows what terms will follow up “participation award” as the pejorative for a parent being too nice, but at least Millennials are self-aware of it. Maybe we can thank all this social media nonsense and the experience of knowing faceless masses are judging us. When it came to complimenting their children, the feeling that they’re spoiling them has risen. Business Insider says"40% of Millennials say they praise their kids too much, compared to 31% of Gen X parents and 24% of Baby Boomer parents.” That might lead to a kid being a brat, but it’s also not an indication that the child feels too complimented; they might feel exactly affirmed enough and that’s amazing.
3 They Care Less About The Outdoors
It’s a statistic easy to latch on to as to why Millennials are the downfall of humanity and the result of mistakes but just, calm down. Parents have seen a downward fall in the importance of “going out and playing,” partially because supervision has risen in importance and also because technology can either be a vice for thoughtless play or an incredibly productive tool. So although “65% of Millennial parents say [outdoor] playtime is important for children to develop emotional skills, compared to 75% of Gen X parents and 85% of Boomer parents,” that’s clearly an ongoing downward trajectory.
Also, the majority still say outdoor playtime is important.
2 They Know That Quality Time Matters
If parents could clock in hours with their kids, Millennials would be doing a great job. By which I mean, they’re already doing a great job. Business Insider found that "mothers from 11 wealthy Western countries spend about an hour more taking care of their kids than mothers did back in 1965. Meanwhile, dads are spending almost an hour, up from about 16 minutes in 1965.”
Look, philosophies may differ but it’s hard to find an argument against incremental increases of quality time between parents and children. The specifics will differ, but the love that guarantees that time is made is always the same and it’s always good.
1 They Know They Don't Always Have A Plan
They look like adults, but they don’t always feel that way. One mother sums it up on behalf of her generation, “I thought we were supposed to do things a certain way,” said Ms. Flynn of Brooklyn, who had multiple jobs and multiple apartments when she was in her 20's. “Have the career, the house, the green grass, and then the kid. But that didn’t happen. My life has a different plan… Having a kid when things are unstable like this… feels like a start-up. We kind of know where we are going with this, but we don’t know how it’s going to turn out.”
References: Business Insider, Baby Gaga, NY Times, Business Insider