Millennial Parenting

Yesterday, I sat down to read Time‘s cover story about millennial parents. Before starting out I made a few predictions. One, I would bring my palm to my face on more than one occasion. Two, I would read about a kid with a ridiculous name. And three, I would hear the same old stuff about one generation thinking the way they parented was the best and younger people parenting differently are just wrong.

Well, prediction one and two came true in the first paragraph. First facepalm, when I saw the vegan dad who is raising his kids vegan wearing a t-shirt, which simply said, “VEGAN.” This reminded me of the best joke I have ever heard about vegans. File this one away: How do you know someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.

As for prediction number two, let’s just say that right away there was a name that, in my opinion, seems like a classic case of millennial desperation to make everything about their kid unique starting right away with the name.

Prediction number three was also accurate, although there was not as much worrying about millennial parents as I expected there to be. The article mostly detailed the differences among parents from three generations: millennial,  gen x, and baby boomers.

The author made a few lazy assumptions about millennials. One was right there on the first page, “And they continue to build vast archives of selfies.” Not true in my case. Maybe that is because I am just barely a millennial parent, but it is mostly true because I strongly dislike selfies. I take them, when no one else is around to take a picture of London and I, but that is out of necessity, not because I need to Instagram a selfie right now. Another prediction: if your Instagram profile is chock full of selfies we probably won’t be good friends.

One of the best points in this article was that, due to nearly universal use of social media among millennial parents, it is far easier for us to compare our parenting or family to some other family. The Facebook and Instagram posts often present “impossibly pristine, accomplished version[s] of their family lives on the web.” That is one of the more accurate statements about parents all across social media. We are highly selective about what we share. I am guilty of this so in the margins of the article I wrote, “write about the dirty, time-consuming tasks…Instagram them too.” A couple of nights ago I had the best opportunity to do this. London had vomited all over the couch, Kate, and the floor. Next time, that is going on Instagram.

The author later writes that “millennials say infighting over topics like breast-feeding and vaccines has driven them from online groups.” I haven’t experienced too much of this, but in some cases I have encountered parents of preemies who almost advertise the complications of their kid’s prematurity in their IG profile, Facebook page, or Twitter account. I have certainly shied away from groups or users like that, much in the same way I unfollow people on Facebook whose posts are always political.

A teacher interviewed in the articles makes the point that social media “is leading the children of millennials to form stronger social bonds than previous generations, because they’re in contact with one another more outside of school.” Is this a good thing though? Doesn’t it breed traits into our children such as the need to always be connected to the internet or to always have a smartphone nearby? Are these kids able to be alone? Will they be able to enjoy silence?

The last scrawl in the margins of this article I made was about kids being unique. A mom is quoted as saying, “I just want them to be unique.” Aren’t they unique in your own eyes? That should be enough. My kid or kids will always be unique to me and that is all that matters. Most importantly, I want them to be happy. I know that if they are happy, they will encounter people in their lives who consider them unique. These people will become their friends.

I think there is some urge in millennial parents for their kid to be unique in the eyes of the world, not just their eyes, like we are all trying to raise the next prodigy, celebrity, or savant. If there is a concerning theme in this article, that would be it for me.

A discovery about millennial parents that is particularly promising and hopeful to me is that parents in this generation favor more unstructured playtime and are more encouraging of kids to explore on their own, to be on their own. This, according to the article, is a move away from the helicopter parenting of Gen X. In my experience, this is pretty accurate.

If you are interested at all about Time’s take on millennial parents, then I encourage you to check this article out. I just tried to link to it, but was told that the page is only available to subscribers of the magazine. So it might necessitate a trip to the library or a little more sleuth work on the internet. The title of the article: Help! My Parents Are Millennials.

2 thoughts on “Millennial Parenting

  1. I really like the notes you scribbled in the margins of the article you critiqued. And must say I agree with everything you agree with. The “unique” child analysis is really a rub and I see that often. I think you have your head on straight except not sure I want to see London’s vomit on Instagram. Maybe that would be TMI.

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