Millennial parents are often subject of a lot of ire by society. Most of it is unwarranted — millennial parents are merely figuring out how they want to raise their children. Naturally, as the world around us changes, the things we choose to focus on changes as well. Millennial parents are living in a vastly different world than previous generation, and our parenting choices reflect that. This is likely why millennial moms are focusing more on teaching our kids kindness.
According to Motherly's 2019 State of Motherhood survey, millennial moms are choosing kindness as the "most important quality to cultivate." And that's definitely a good thing.
Teaching our kids kindness is by and large the most important. Comparing it to the next most important quality, which is respect, kindness is approximately 30 percent higher. For 46 percent of moms, kindness is the most important quality to cultivate in their kids. If you break that down further, you will find that it varies by race. White moms are more likely to focus on kindness — 51 percent of them say it's the most important. Latinx moms come in second with 41 percent, while 27 percent of Black moms are placing their focus on kindness.
Back in 2013 and 2014, researchers for Harvard's Making Caring Common project surveyed 10,000 middle and high schoolers across the country. Regardless of racial, class or cultural identity, the researchers found the students centering themselves over others. Out of the 10,000 students surveyed, 80 percent claimed their parents taught them "their own happiness and high achievement were more important than caring for others."
Of course, being happy and successful are important. But if that's what our children are focusing on, they're missing out on ways to relate to their peers. Kindness, along with things like empathy and fairness are important lessons to keep kids from being cruel and disrespectful to those around them. Especially to their peers.
If you're looking for concrete ways to teach your kids kindness, Harvard has some great suggestions. Two of the easiest ones are modeling kindness and helping our kids to be nice. Whether we like it or not, our kids emulate the behaviors they see us displaying. So, if we're not being kind, how can we expect them to be? Taking your kids with you to an animal shelter to volunteer is a great example. Or working together to clean up their rooms and donate their toys to a children's hospital.
Wanting to raise the next generation to be kinder is an easily attainable goal. But it starts at home.