Is it just me, or are you absolutely sick of hearing about how “horrible” the Millennial generation is? How we’re destroying this industry, or that ancient moral value. So far most of the negativity is focused on our youth, but I have a feeling that being called the worst generations of parents ever is just around the corner. We’re still pretty young, most people count us as the generation born roughly 1980-2000, only about 40% of us have become “Millennial Parents.”
The cliche Millennial is image-obsessed, lazy, and selfish. If you’re of the millennial generation, you know this to be a complete stereotype. The millennials I personally know are just regular people! We’re hard workers, passionate, giving, and kind. A lot of us are struggling under mountains of student loan debt, but still find moments to enjoy life to the fullest.
I wanted to counteract some of that stinging (though sometimes humorous) noise about how bad we are. Enough with the headlines about Millennials killing something, or being horrible at something!
I did some research, and it turns out millennial parents are actually kind of killing it at parenting!
Less than half of us have had children and a lot of us have young children, so the research is still new. However, there is a bit out there. Since so many articles about Millennials are based on assumptions, stereotypes, and the author’s personal opinions and pre-conceived notions, I tried my best to only look at reputable sources. Actual research studies and polls, etc. I included a ton of links if you want to know where I found my information and read more if you’re curious.
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1. MILLENNIAL PARENTS BELIEVE IN THE IMPORTANCE OF FREE PLAY
Unsurprisingly, this is #1 to me! 61% of Millennial parents believe that our children need more unstructured free-play time. Of course, if you’re a reader of this blog, you know that I 100% agree with them!
Check out these posts that talk about the benefits of unstructured free play time:
2. MILLENNIAL PARENTS DON’T RUSH TO GET MARRIED AND HAVE KIDS
Millennials are getting married at older ages than our parents were. Right now the average age for women is 27 and men is 29. (The majority of Millennials report wanting to get married eventually, so those headlines you see about Millennials “killing/shunning marriage” are completely inaccurate clickbait.)
By waiting longer, we’re able to understand ourselves and what we want/need in a relationship more than we could at age 20 (the average age Baby Boomers were getting married). A lot of people in our generation are dating for extended periods and even living together before marriage, giving the relationship a chance to grow, come up against challenges, and mature. No doubt this has something to do with why divorce rates are declining!
We also wait longer to have children and this is good for lots of reasons. Research has shown that older women actually raise smarter children! Also, this gives mothers a chance to finish their education, get their career going, and maybe even buy a house before having a child.
3. MILLENNIAL DADS ARE MORE INVOLVED
62% of Millennial moms report that dads pitch in. Millennial dads are more likely to be in the delivery room, change diapers, take paternity leave and help with feeding and housework. Having an involved father benefits children and marriages in many ways.
4. MILLENNIAL PARENTS USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS A TOOL
Although almost all of us use social media, and many of us every day, a poll by Time.com found that 19% of Millennial parents haven’t shared photos of their children. Yeah, some of us could probably be accused of over-sharing, but not all of us!
Instead, most of us use social media as a tool; to connect with friends, fellow moms, and receive recommendations on products and services before shelling out our money. Millennial parents report using social media at least once a day for the purpose of helping with parenting.
Marketers are constantly trying to study us to figure out our buying habits. We’re less likely to be “brand-loyal” and more likely to do our research on the most bang for our buck, and/or go for brands that align with our values (for example, testing on animals). We are twice as likely as older generations to turn to social media when making choices on things to purchase.
5. MILLENNIAL PARENTS USE TECHNOLOGY AS A TOOL
Just like with social media, we treat technology as a tool and not just a toy. Millennial parents are more likely to use technology with their children in educational ways; playing games, reading books. While I’m personally wary of too much technology (it can have some negative consequences if approached poorly), allowing our children to access technology as a learning tool will likely help our children be better equipped as technology rapidly progresses.
Millennial parents also take advantage of wonderful things like Amazon Prime, tools like Alexa, subscription services like Stitch Fix and various apps like iBotta to help streamline and ease things on our to-do lists.
6. MILLENNIAL PARENTS RESEARCH THEIR CHOICES
Going off of the technology as a tool, we use it to research our choices. Instead of relying on old wives tales and rumors, we look to see what the research says. While 58% of us are a bit overwhelmed with the amount of parenting information available to us, we are more likely to research our choices and weigh our options.
7. MILLENNIAL PARENTS ARE NOT MATERIALISTIC
Most Millennial Parents (82%) want our children to know that we don’t need possessions to make us happy. Some anti-Millennial writers will write about how lazy and entitled Millennials are too busy travelling and spending money on experiences over things, I see this as a wonderful thing for childhood. Millennial parents seem to be more likely to spend money on creating memories with our children than buying them stuff.
8. MILLENNIAL PARENTS CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT
I’ve always loved the proverb “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” and it seems that many Millennial parents agree. 64% of Millennial parents state that the environment has become a top concern for them since having children. We’re more likely to purchase organic products for ourselves and our children. Hopefully, if our efforts pay off we can try to leave an earth for our children to cherish and care for.
9. MILLENNIAL PARENTS BELIEVE IN THE BENEFITS OF GENDER NEUTRALITY
Don’t be scared, I’m not about to talk about the wonderful world of never telling your child if they’re a boy or a girl, or never allowing our daughters to wear pink. I’m talking about letting our children be themselves. We parent our individual children, not just cliche stereotypes of our children. 50% of us have bought gender-neutral toys for our children (which is quite a bit more than the previous generations).
Right now one of my son’s very favorite toys is his baby doll in the pink dress. If I parented him with the stereotype of a boy in mind, I never would have purchased that doll, and the sweet joy on his face as he tucks her in and pats her back “night night” would never have been experienced!
We allow and encourage our daughters to play in the mud and kick balls. And we allow and encourage our sons to play with dolls and ballet.
If you are curious about the importance of parenting with consciousness around gender stereotypes, I highly recommend this book:
10. MILLENNIAL PARENTS ARE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT HEALTH
This is another way that we’re making smarter children; research has shown that when young children have healthy diets and healthy moms, they have higher IQ’s!
(We also spend more money on athletic wear, but that’s probably because yoga pants are comfy and not necessarily because we’re working out a lot.)
11. MILLENNIAL PARENTS ARE HAVING FUN AS PARENTS
This is probably the biggest deal to me. Joy and play are so important! More than half of Millennial parents report that parenting is rewarding and enjoyable. Way more than older parents! I’ve heard it argued that this is because our children are younger and parenting teenagers is less rewarding and fun. This could be true, but I’ve also read studies that report that early childhood is the most difficult and unhappy stage for most parents!
Time will tell if we really are killing it as parents when the fruits of our labor (ie: our children) grow up. But right now, according to the beginning research, it seems like we’re doing a pretty great job!