When it comes to millennials, there are stereotypes aplenty. Millennials are always on their cell phones, taking selfies, and curating their Instagram accounts. They're lazy and entitled, the recipients of one too many participation trophies. Dubbed the "me" generation, they're narcissistic whiners. Yikes. Everyone seems to forget that millennials are highly educated, technologically savvy, progressive, global citizens. Something else they don't get credit for? All the parenting styles millennial moms have championed for the better.
I did quite a bit of reading when I was pregnant, and I continue to do so as a toddler mom. As I get to know my daughter as an individual (and myself as a mom, for that matter), I adapt my parenting style to fit our family's particular needs. I tried exclusively breastfeeding, but I ended up supplementing with formula. When it was time for solid foods, I made my own organic purees then switched to baby-led weaning. We co-slept for the first three months with our daughter in a bassinet next to our bed, then put her in a crib and sleep trained her.
Honestly, my "take what works for you and leave the rest" approach is distinctly millennial. Millennials are known for their open-mindedness, so it makes sense that, as parents, we don't have a one-size-fits-all mentality. Think we're snowflakes? Well, guilty as charged. The fact is, we're all unique. What's effective for one child might not work for another, even within the same family. That's why it's important to have lots of tricks in your parenting bag. Here's a sampling of strategies millennials draw from:
At its core, attachment parenting (AP) is about cultivating the bond between parents and child. Some of the key practices are breastfeeding, babywearing, and co-sleeping. AP parents use nurturing touch and gentle discipline. Attachment parenting is viewed as a return to a natural way of parenting, and this is attractive to many millennial moms.
In a chaotic world, many millennial parents are choosing to simplify. Downsized parenting means a less-is-more approach. These moms just say "no" to elaborate birthday parties and after-school activities that interrupt dinnertime. Downsizing and prioritizing family time can give kids (and parents) much needed play time. It's great for development, but it also fosters connection. Memories are made here.
Millennials are the most racially diverse and religiously tolerant generation yet. According to the Pew Research Center, 70 percent of millennials support marriage equality. Naturally, millennials' progressive views inform their parenting. Millennial parents stress inclusion and appreciation of differences. They promote cross-racial friendships. Rejecting the gender binary, modern parents allow their children to live authentically.
Resources for Infant Educators (RIE), also known as Educaring, is all about respect. The goal is a secure, confident, autonomous, authentic child. Magda Gerber's RIE principles include time for uninterrupted play, involvement of the child in childcare activities, and sensitive observation of the child by the caregiver. RIE is perhaps best known for "sportscasting," in which parents narrate what's happening in neutral terms, which teaches language at the same time it empowers children.
Granola parenting is the realm of the "crunchy" mom. So-called Earth Mamas vary in their beliefs, but they are generally environmentally and health-conscious. They might use cloth diapers, prepare only organic food, or home-school their children. Despite what you may have heard, they're not necessarily anti-vaccination, but they're likely big on attachment parenting. And coconut oil.
Basically, we all just read Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bebe, and it blew our damn minds. While we might not be crazy about the fact that French moms don't typically breastfeed, we like the lack of shaming about medicated births. To hear Druckerman tell it, French kids self-soothe and sleep through the night, have mature palates and excellent manners, and play independently. You'll probably find many millennial moms trying le pause. Confident millennial moms love how French mothers trust their instincts.
Authoritative parents have high expectations for their children. They set limits, but they keep their demands reasonable. In contrast with authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting provides warmth and guidance. Consistency is key. It might seem strict, but authoritative millennial parents know that kids raised in this way are actually happier, more independent, and better at emotional regulation.
Helicopter parenting is actually on the decline for the millennial set. Having been micro-managed themselves, millennial moms are opting for a more relaxed parenting style. Instead of shielding kids from failure, resilience parenting allows children to use failure as an opportunity to learn. Millennials know that over-parenting can have negative effects on a child. They're backing off and letting their children explore their world, even if they get a few bumps and bruises on the way.
Also known as "relaxed" or "Elsa" parenting (you know, because you let it go, let it gooooooooo), third-child parenting refers to the phenomenon in which parents don't get quite as worked up about things as they might have with their first child. Anyone who was a third child themselves knows they got away with a lot of crap. The basic mindset is "don't sweat the small stuff." Dog licked the baby's face? No biggie. We're building antibodies here, people.
Mindfulness is all about being present. As a mindful parent, you are attentive and non-judgmental and express unconditional love. You respond rather than react. Kids raised by mindful parents are less likely to use drugs or suffer from depression and anxiety. Millennials are tuned into mental health, and they recognize that this is a method that's beneficial for parents and children alike.