Millennial parents, the cohort born between 1980 and 2000 of which there are an estimated 22 million of in the U.S., are astutely tailoring their parenting style to the needs of their family while challenging traditional societal norms.
Shaped by an era dominated by post 9/11 security concerns, international conflicts, and a massive global recession, millennials have channelled a climate of uncertainty into a commitment to providing their kids with the best possible childhood.
Here are five ways millennial parents are changing parenthood forever.
1. DISCARDING ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL PARENTING
While Druckerman is quick to assert that America has a ‘parenting problem’ in comparison to its French counterparts, Chua ultimately concludes that the goal of raising ‘happy, strong, and self-reliant’ children is achievable through many parenting methods.
Millennial parents are open-minded and recognize that there is no one ‘right’ way to raise their children. The availability of books like those mentioned above and the Internet provide a wealth of resources, different parenting ideas, and culturally diverse perspectives from which parents can consider all sorts of information and opinions when crafting an individualized approach to family life.
2. MANEUVERING SOCIAL MEDIA
Though these tech-savvy parents may encounter an agonizing cycle of self-doubt and googling that previous generations skipped coupled with the potential negative influences of social media, millennials’ are navigating new technology to the betterment of their parenting styles. For example, Millennial parents are apt to seek advice and support and share experiences.
Also, a Time Survey-Monkey poll of 2,000 millennial parents’ revealed that 81% have shared a photo of their child on social media compared to 70% Gen X and 47% of Baby Boomers. This group’s propensity for social sharing is positively filtering into their children’s lives as their kids create solid social bonds outside school through increased interconnectedness.
Further, Millennials are demonstrating an equal wariness of the pervasive nature of social media and are more likely to be aware of privacy settings to ensure safer sharing.
3. EMBRACING CHANGING NORMS
Millennial parents are moving beyond an archetypal family construct to adopt a more open-minded, , and unconventional perspective on what modern family life looks like. Parenting among this group has become more team-oriented as millennials depart from traditional gender roles in raising children. Moreover, this divergence has translated to a heightened sense of cultivating kids’ identity and gender neutrality unlike the generations before. 50% of millennial parents have contentiously chosen gender-neutral toys compared to 34% of previous generations.
Millennials are also defying conventional notions of marriage, with a lower percentage indicating that marriage before children is essential for parenthood. At the same time, they are more likely to be stay-at-home parents than both Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers.
4. REFLECTING AND QUESTIONING
Millennial parents are moving away from the helicopter parenting of their predecessors, defined by the hovering, hyper-parenting and over-scheduling of the 1990s, to embrace an overall ‘relaxed and responsive approach’. Millennial parents appreciate that unstructured playtime is just as important as other activities, providing kids with much-needed space for independent learning and growth.
Backing off in a big way, millennials are approaching family life in a more democratic fashion by questioning themselves and asking children for input in decision-making. Plus, these parents are emphasizing a renewed focus on empathy to help children garner a greater understanding and engagement with their world.
5. HELPING CHILDREN CULTIVATE A STRONG SENSE OF IDENTITY
Today’s parents are posting everything from ultrasounds to unexpected success and failures, first grade to freshman year, actually creating an alternate sense of self for their children.
Though the effect of millennial parents’ social media sharing has yet to be realized, University of Michigan assistant professor Sarita Schoenebeck illuminates that millennials’ kids will develop both a public and private, autonomous offline identity.
Moreover, millennial parents foster a greater sense of identity and individuality, more so than previous generations, in simply naming their children. The 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.
In a generation more ethnically diverse than any other, millennial parents are honing a distinctive parenting style that is defined precisely by its heterogeneity and open-mindedness aimed to cultivate kids’ unique external and internal identity and self-expression.