In 2017, millennials (also known as "Generation Me") made up 90% of all new parents, striking fear into the hearts of critical baby boomers everywhere. For years millennials have been labeled as entitled, technology-driven narcissists who are drowning in debt and killing off entire industries, and now 9 million of them are raising kids children as we speak. So, how are they faring? Are "perennials" raising a bunch of hedonistic, selfish little brats, or are they actually raising the bar in terms of parenting?
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. So where is this confidence coming from? Although there's no doubt that millennial parents are having a much harder time financially, they ARE spending much more time with their kids than previous generations and are determined to raise their children differently. Unlike the "helicopter moms" of Gen X and the absentee baby boomers, millennial parents are more likely to say that parenthood is a major part of their identity than previous generations. As it turns out, self-centered millennials are turning out to be selfless parents. PLOT TWIST!
Here are 20 ways millennials are out parenting baby boomers, and three things they can learn from previous generations.
23 They Choose To Be Parents
With easy access to birth control and fertility treatments, millennials are choosing to be parents when they decide they are ready, deferring parenthood longer than any previous generation. By the time the majority of millennials have children they have already sewed their wild oats in their twenties and are more established and further along in their careers. The results? When asked in a survey if they enjoy being parents, a whopping 99% of the respondents said yes. I guess waiting to have kids in your thirties pays off!
22 They Don't Rush Into Marriage
For millennials, marriage and parenthood don't necessarily go hand-in-hand (as it has in previous generations). When surveyed, 52% of millennials said that being a good parent is one of the most important things in life, but only 30% said the same about having a successful marriage. As it turns out, millennials value parenthood more than any other generation and they are much less likely to rush into a marriage, especially as the societal pressure to do so becomes less and less.
21 They Are Better Informed
Unlike the baby boomers, millennial parents have a wealth of information (literally) at their fingertips. A whopping 71% of millennial moms and dads turn to the Internet or social media for help with their parenting. Due to the easy access of information and research studies regarding parenting and child development, millennial parents are much more knowledgeable and have a wider perspective than baby boomer parents (who often relied on "old wives tales" and friends/family for advice). Needless to say, millennial parents are WOKE.
20 They Involve Children In Family Decisions
Millennial parents are "increasingly entrepreneurial" and love to involve kids in larger family decisions (unlike baby boomers who would most likely scoff at such an idea). As a generation of Influencers, it's no surprise that millennials are giving their children the ability to influence some of the things that affect them. Unlike the baby boomers, millennials are all about acknowledging children and encouraging them to play an important role in society. Although many generations have been quoted as saying "the children are the future," it seems like the millennials might be the first generation that actually believes it and acts accordingly.
19 They Have A Larger Support System
Baby boomers had to rely on close friends and family for advice and support, but millennial parents have entire communities available to them thanks to the Internet. Finding a "mom's group" is simple as long as you're connected to the internet, and the choices are endless. Did you have your baby in the month of September? BabyCenter has moms' groups based solely on your due date. Do you want to find a group of ladies to work out with? Mommy & Me fitness classes and groups are literally available everywhere, all you need to do is show up. Does your child have a special need? You no longer have to walk that road alone. It's a new world out there.
18 They Document Every Moment
A recent 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. Surprise, surprise, the generation that takes pictures of food loves to take pictures of their kids, too. Some millennial parents are even giving their kids personal hashtags and YouTube channels in an effort to capture every cute little moment for posterity! While some parents do worry about their child's safety and fear their child "becoming a meme," the majority of millennial parents celebrate their children on social media from the minute they're born.
17 They Reject The Idea That "One Size Fits All"
Thanks to the Internet providing a wealth of resources, research, opinions, and different perspectives, millennial parents are much more open-minded than the baby boomer generation and reject the idea that there's a "right" way to raise children. Millennials have a very individualistic approach to parenting and are much more likely to look into many different parenting ideas before settling on one that works for them. Baby boomers, on the other hand, felt immense pressure to "conform" and raise their children the way society expected them to (whether it was healthy or not).
16 Dads Are Present And Involved
In a recent survey by Winnie.com, 40% of dads either were currently a stay-at-home parent or had done it at some point in the past. Of those who don’t stay home, 65% of them said that they could see themselves doing the job someday. Do you think baby boomer dads would say the same? NOPE.
Statistically, 80% of Millennial dads will handle the shopping (compared to a scant 45% of their fathers), and 50% manage the kids' social calendar (compared to 23% of all dads over 35 years of age). Unlike previous generations, dads aren't just around, they're ENGAGED.
15 They Spend More Time Hanging Out With Their Kids
Congrats, millennial parents, you are officially spending more time with your kids than all of the generations before you. Fathers, in particular, are spending three times as much time with their children as men did two generations ago. But what about all those stay-at-home moms in the baby boomer generation? Didn't they spend more time with their kids? NOPE. In 1965, the average mom spent 10 hours a week taking care of her kids, while the average time for moms in 2015 was 15 hours a week (and that number is only going up).
14 They're More Likely To Talk Money
Unlike the Baby Boomers, who left money-talk to the adults, millennial parents are talking to children age 12 and younger about personal finance basics like making a budget, saving early and saving for college, according to a recent study by Capital Group.
“Most Americans we surveyed wish that someone had shared financial advice with them earlier,” says Heather Lord, senior vice president and head of strategy and innovation at Capital Group. “That may be influencing the approach of millennial and Gen X parents: 39% of millennial parents said they would start telling children at age 12 or younger to start saving early, almost twice the level of baby boomer parents, at 22%.”
13 They're Resisting Stereotypes
Unlike previous generations, millennial parents strongly reject stereotypes for both children and parents. Who says a boy can't wear pink? Who says dads are incompetent parents? Not millennials! Society is changing and now popular brands are attempting to change their depictions of dads in the media to keep from offending potential buyers. For example, according to the World Economic Forum, Disney has pledged to drop "bad dads" and other gender stereotypes completely. Millennial fathers simply can't relate to the stereotype of an absent, clueless or overworked father.
12 They're Socially And Environmentally Conscious
Unlike the baby boomers, millennials have a global-citizen mentality that values environmental and social sustainability above all else. Millennial idealism has also led to a love of transparency in business and a desire for social justice. The majority of millennials are teaching their children to be good stewards of the environment simply because they see the need for it, and are drawn to brands that stand for more than the bottom-line. Unlike previous generations, millennials aren't motivated by what's the cheapest- they're motivated by what reflects their values, and their children are seeing that.
11 They Travel More
Millennials love to travel and they have zero problems bringing their kids with them. Among millennials, families travel much more than couples or singles. Millennials with children are also traveling more internationally than any other demographic group. According to one survey, 64% of millennial families having taken at least one international vacation in the past year, which is significantly more than millennial couples or singles. When asked whether they value home ownership or traveling and having family experiences, experiences won out with 56%.
10 They're More Concerned With Health And Nutrition
There's no doubt about it, millennial parents are setting a new standard when it comes to health, nutrition, and fitness. 60% of millennials say they try to work out on a regular basis, and 26% consider themselves health fanatics. Armed with fitness technology (fit bits, for example) and (obviously) the Internet, millennials are inspired to make health and wellness a priority for their families. In general, millennials are looking for healthier, fresher, and ethically (or locally) sourced food options. 60% of moms said they pack lunch boxes differently than the way their own mothers did, largely because the food is more nutritious.
9 They're More Likely To Try Breastfeeding
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that breastfeeding rates have increased over the last decade, from 35% in 2000 to 49% in 2010. So what's behind the increase? According to the CDC, more hospitals are implementing practices that keep moms and babies together right after birth, but there's definitely more to it than that. Any new mother will tell you that support is crucial when it comes to breastfeeding, and the Internet is chock full of supportive resources, communities, hacks, and how-to guides.
8 They're More Openminded
No one can accuse millennial parents of being close-minded. For example, 50% of millennial parents choose gender-neutral toys compared to 34% of previous generations. Like gender norms, family structure is also open to interpretation. According to Census.gov, between 2 million and 3.7 million children under age 18 have an LGBTQ parent, and approximately 200,000 of them are being raised by a same-sex couple. More women are now choosing to be single parents, as the stigma of being a single mother has been buried by strong, independent women choosing to have children on their own (hello, Mindy Kaling).
7 They Value Compassion And Kindness
When ranking the most important values they'd like to instill in their children, 60% of millennials chose compassion and kindness, and 53% chose to put family first. A rewarding career and a good salary were at the very bottom.
“I want them to feel empathy, to feel the need to help others, and to spread positivity and love. The only way we can have a more beautiful and tolerable world is by raising our little humans to believe it deserves to be," says Brittany Pepper, 33, mother of three.
6 Goodbye, Helicopter Parents
Many millennials were raised by the helicopter parents of Generation X, so it's no surprise that they're rejecting this form of parenting as adults. "Helicopter parenting" is defined by the hovering, hyper-parenting, and over-scheduling of the 1990s, but millennial parents are trying hard to embrace a more relaxed, responsive approach. Kids need to play together without parents so they can develop social skills and independent learning, and this need has given rise to a millennial-led movement called "free-range parenting," or the concept of raising children with limited parental supervision (within reason, of course).
5 Cultivating A Strong Sense Of Identity
More than any other generation, millennials really value individualism and a strong sense of identity. This can be seen in something as simple as how they're naming their children. A Time Magazine survey indicated that 60% of millennials believe that children should have unique names, compared to 44% of Gen X’ers and 35% of Baby Boomers. Perhaps because millennials are more ethnically diverse than the generation before them, their parenting style reflects an open-mindedness and a desire to cultivate their kids' self-expression, unique individualism, and a pride in who they are and where they come from.
4 They Choose Encouragement Over Praise
Ironically, millennials are being very careful to not raise another "trophy generation." A 2015 survey from the Pew Research Institute found that 40% of millennials worry they praise their kids too much, compared to 31% of Gen X parents and 24% of Baby Boomer parents (this held true even when researchers controlled for kids' ages). Millennials aren't down for empty praise, they're down for encouragement. A millennial parent is much more likely to tell their child "congratulations, you earned it," rather than "you got an A, I'm so proud of you."
3 Things They Can Learn: Save That Money
Millennials are really good about prioritizing healthy foods and family time, but they're not quite as...practical as the boomers. Despite the fact that the average cost of a four-year degree from a public school is expected to be more than $205,000 by 2030, only 13% of millennial parents are saving for college. It's time to face the facts: this generation is dropping the ball when it comes to financial security. 53% of surveyed parents have $5,000 or less in savings and 1 in 5 have no life insurance at all (and those who do have life insurance are underinsured). When it comes to money, it's probably time to take a page from the baby boomers' book.
2 Things To Learn: Discipline Is Important
As wonderful as the Internet can be when it comes to parenting resources, not every "parenting resource" you find on the world wide web is worth looking at. The Internet is filled with well-meaning articles about how raising your voice damages children and how parents should replace the word "no" with something more positive, but a lot of that is just bull crap (sorry, the baby boomers are right). Unfortunately, studies prove millennial parents are disciplining their kids less than any generation before them, despite the fact that discipline is absolutely vital if you want to establish healthy boundaries with your kids and differentiate between right and wrong.
1 Things To Learn: Place A Higher Value On Playtime
I've got to admit, this one made me sad. A survey from The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association, which highlighted on Parents.com, found that millennial parents value outdoor playtime less than parents from previous generations. For example, 65% of millennial parents say playtime is important for children to develop emotional skills, compared to 75% of Gen X parents and 85% of Boomer parents. What?! With those kinds of stats, school recess won't even be a thing in 10-20 years! Let the kids play, for God's sake.
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