Every generation has a different way or style of raising children. The Baby Boomer Generation, for instance, usually struggles to understand the value of child discipline and use traditional discipline techniques from their own childhoods. Meanwhile, Generation X parents are more open-minded. They want to be involved in their children's lives and use helicopter parenting to raise their kids, meaning, they are over-protective.
However, the most lauded generation in terms of raising children is millennial parents. As of 2017, millennials make up 90% of new parents across the world. Dr. Kathleen Gerson, a sociology professor at New York University and author of “The Unfinished Revolution: Coming of Age in a New Era of Gender, Work, and Family,” said today’s millennial families are different because they are navigating some big societal shifts that previous generations didn’t experience.
Unlike the previous generations, this generation waits longer to have children because of several reasons, such as career decisions, financial constraints, wanderlust, and more. But what makes millennial parenting different from other parenting styles?
Millennials are Willing to Prioritize their Children Over their Careers
For millennials, having a family isn’t just a change in lifestyle but also in their priorities. The stereotypically self-absorbed millennial has disappeared, making room for both new life and a new take on adulthood— even if it means choosing their kids over their careers. Many millennial parents have a different take on balancing their careers and families than their parents.
Unlike other generations, more millennials are looking for ways to build their careers around their family. Having a lot of time with their families is what’s important to them. They are willing to compromise many things concerning their jobs, which also explains why there have been several changes in the workplace. According to Family Life, a specialist family services provider working with vulnerable children, families and communities, many companies are accommodating employees’ requests to work off-site from home. Most of these requests come from parents who juggle schedules.
Millennial parents also overwhelmingly put their children first. Millennials are known to be self-centered and individualistic people. They are the kind of people that are highly conscious of their image and more interested in health and fitness than previous generations. However, a survey showed that 91% of millennial parents would prioritize their kids over their relationship with other people and even individual growth.
They are also trying to do better than their parents. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family found out that dads in the ‘60s spent about 16 minutes a day with their kids. Millennial dads, on the other hand, are doing it even better. Studies show that they’re spending about an hour a day with their children.
Millennials Parents are Better Informed Than Any Generation of Parents Before Them
With the emergence of technology, any information about parenting is just a click away. A survey revealed that 71% of millennial moms and dads turn to the Internet or social media for help with their parenting. Google Trends, for instance, reported that interest in breastfeeding has doubled in the past decade. This shows that millennial parents want to be informed because they are eager to be better at parenting.
Through the Internet, millennial parents are given a more educated perspective on parenting. They are much more knowledgeable about health and what children need to thrive in life compared to other generations. Also, they have the ability to access knowledge and not rely on old wives' tales, myths, outdated guidelines, and more.
According to VeryWell Family, a trusted and compassionate online resource that provides the guidance you need to improve your mental health and find balance, millennial parents are using social media as a way of communicating with family members, whereas earlier generations of parents would make phone calls and mail photos to far-away relatives.
They also share photos of their children more often. 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. Additionally, millennial moms and dads use social media platforms to seek parenting advice and support and share experiences with other parents.
Millennial Parents Embrace Changing Norms
Millennial parents have adopted a more open-minded and unconventional perspective on what modern family life looks like. They willingly depart from traditional gender roles in raising children while still maintaining their values and principles. Because of this, they have translated to a heightened sense of cultivating kids’ identity and gender neutrality unlike the generations before. A survey reported that 50% of millennial parents have contentiously chosen gender-neutral toys compared to 34% of previous generations.
As they adapt to changing norms, the traditional structure of family is also changed. As of 2017, between 2 million and 3.7 million children under age 18 had an LGBTQ parent and approximately 200,000 of them were being raised by a same-sex couple. Many children are being raised by an LGBTQ parent today compared to the past decades.
They also don’t mind getting married late. According to a survey by Pew Social Trends, a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world, millennials are getting married later in life than previous generations. The findings revealed that the median age at first marriage has edged up gradually in recent decades. In 2019, only 44% of millennials were married compared with 53% of Gen Xers, 61% of Boomers and 81% of Silents at a comparable age.
Millennial parents are also more likely to reinforce positive behaviors than punish negative ones. “Around the mid-20th century, there was a strong shift from the notion that strict discipline and physical force were acceptable and even good ways to set limits on behavior,” Gerson said.
Recent studies revealed that millennial parents are moving away from helicopter parenting to embrace an overall ‘relaxed and responsive approach’. Unlike older generations of parents, they approach family life in a more democratic fashion by questioning themselves and asking children for input in decision-making. Aside from that, they emphasize a renewed focus on empathy to help children garner a greater understanding and engagement with their world.