“Ugh, you all with your phones. Stop trying to take pictures or be on Facebook all the time and just be with your kids!” I’m sure I'm not the only millennial mom who's heard something like this from extended family, or passing strangers, multiple times. Misunderstanding our relationship to technology is one of many things people don't understand about millennial moms.
Yeah, sometimes I and other folks my age get a little attached to our phones. However, the majority of the time we're trying to capture photos so our families have mementos of their childhoods, or we're researching whether or not it's OK for them to eat something they were just offered, or we’re checking a grocery list, or we're making plans with our partners and caregivers, or we're trying to get some work done because we don't have any other choice.
Now, I’m not claiming that the following is true of all of us, nor am I claiming that the hate directed at us only comes from older parents. Sometimes, it’s folks in our own generation joining other folks to gang up on us; a fact that makes me almost as sad as when I’m not quick enough to catch a video of something really adorable my son just learned to do. However, for many of us, the following misconceptions about millennial moms are frustrating, and even hurtful, especially when they come from people we care about (like our own parents). Millennial moms are doing our best just like everyone else, and we deserve the same respect.
We’re Not Necessarily “Playing” On Our Phones
If I had a nickel for every time another caregiver sneered at me for checking my phone while my son plays at the library, I wouldn't need to check my phone while my son played at the library. Yeah, sometimes folks are doing non-essential stuff on our phones, but some of us are working — something we need to do so our kids can continue to eat and have a place to live. So unless you're planning to pay my bills this month, please don't interrupt me while I check in with an editor or contact potential clients.
We’re Not “Too Easy” On Our Kids
More and more millennial moms find ourselves interested in gentle parenting techniques because we know that shaming and hitting kids usually creates more problems over the long term than it potentially solves. However, a lack of yelling and spanking doesn't mean there's a lack of discipline in our homes. We're just choosing to teach our kids how to behave, instead of punishing them for not already knowing how.
We Do Our Research For A Reason
It's not so we can feel superior to other parents. Trust me. Millennial moms research everything because we're really worried about being the best parents we can be, and we know many people have suffered because they didn't know things that could have spared them or their families a lot of grief.
We’re Often More Mature Than Previous Parenting Generations, Not Less
In addition to starting our families later in life than many previous generations of moms, we're also more willing to acknowledge and address challenges like mental illness, rather than suffering in silence. That doesn't make us “whiny” or “immature,” as some folks around the internet might suggest. That makes us wise.
We’re Struggling A Lot More Than Previous Generations
We've got historic levels of student debt and other expenses, while navigating an economy with fewer well-paying jobs and a weaker social safety net. So please keep that in mind if you're wondering why a certain millennial family you know hasn't bought a house yet, or waited for what you consider a long time to have kids.
We Know There's More Than One Right Way To Be A Family
We know that a monoracial, straight, married couple raising their biological children isn't the only way to family. We know it's also OK to be unmarried when you have kids, and/or to include adopted, foster, and step kids, and/or to come from different racial and religious backgrounds, and/or to be the same genders, or multiple genders, or to have no gender at all.
We Know We Don’t Have To Change Who We Are To Be Good Parents
Good parents come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Some parents have tattoos, some don't. Some go out and party sometimes, some don't. We don't have to change our personal style, abandon our friendships, or otherwise be totally different people in order to be good moms.
We Want Our Kids To Be More Than Just Polite
A lot of millennial moms know that it's not enough to just raise our kids to say "please" and "thank you," (although we're trying to do that, too). We're also raising our kids to be anti-racist and anti-sexist, teaching them about things like consent from an early age, and much more, because we want to make sure our kids don't grow up with the same prejudices, biases, and traumas so many previous generations grew up with.
We Don’t Think Motherhood Is The Be-All And End-All Of Adulthood
Millennial moms understand that "mom" isn't the sum total of our identity once we have or adopt kids. We realize that we can still be good friends, loving partners, capable workers, successful entrepreneurs, effective community organizers and leaders, and anything else we want and still raise our kids.
We Love Our Kids Just As Much As Any Other Moms Do
Just because we're willing to be honest about our parenting struggles doesn't mean that we regret being parents, or that we love our kids any less than anyone else does. We just recognize the value of being real about what's happening in our lives. We don't want any other parents coming up after us to feel misled about what the experience of raising new people is really like, as so many parents before us were.
You can say a lot about millennial moms (though we'd probably prefer if you waited until we're out of earshot), but you'll never be able to say that we didn't warn future parents of what's really in store for them as they start raising kids.