10 Ways Millennial Parents Are Told They're Failing Their Kids, & Why They're All Wrong
Every generation of parent has heard how previous parents "used to do things." As times change, so do parenting choices, and Millennial moms are parenting differently than their parents, just like their parents were different than theirs, and so on and so forth. It's not a new story, but it's one that never seems to be less annoying.
To be fair, the differences between the majority of Millennials (in the most generalized, non-specific way possible) and generations past feels massive. Maybe that's because it is massive, or maybe it's because we're the first generation to be able to self-contextualize in real time because of the Internet (and articles, uh, just like this one). Maybe we just feel so different as a generation, and as parents, because we're broadly more aware of ourselves and people's feelings about us. Parenting looks different in 2016, and because of those differences, parents are hearing that they're "doing it all wrong."
Change is tough. I can understand that. And because parenting is so difficult and is filled with such doubt, we all want to be validated in our choices. We want to feel like we're doing the best thing (or have done the best things) for our kids, whether we're a brand new parent or a great-great grandparent. That being true, being criticized by other parents of previous generations is less about how new parents choose to raise their children, and more about the very real, very unrelenting fear that other parents didn't do it the "right" way or the "best" way. (Or maybe they really just do think we're screwing it all up. It's fine. We're worried that we are too.)
But the truth is, there are endless different ways to raise children, and Millennial parents are showing us (and reminding us) of that. You don't have to conform to any one way of thinking. You just have to find what works best for you, and stick with it (unless, of course, what works for you changes, or your understanding of things evolves... Actually, maybe don't vehemently "stick" with anything other than the intention to listen to your gut and obsessively read Internet parenting articles). So, with that in mind, maybe we can ease up and stop saying these 10 things that all millennial parents are tired of hearing.
"Screen Time Will Ruin Your Kid."
How many studies and think pieces are we going to be forced to read about the dangers of screen time and how we're royally messing up our kids? Not to mention, many of those studies aren't definitive, as our pesky handheld electronic devices haven't been around long enough to prove just how dangerous and/or horrible they are (or aren't).
Sure, we don't want our kids staring at a screen all day but, guess what? They're not. Millennial parents still play with their kids and take them places and yes, sometimes put an iPad in their hands...but it's also an iPad that can help them learn how to read and sound out words and learn the alphabet and count to 20. So calm down, people.
"You're Too Soft On Your Kid."
Although a recent study suggests that the majority of Millennial parents approve of spanking, just like their parents, others are opting for alternative methods of discipline. Instead of being applauded for, like, branching out from the school of corporal punishment, Millennial parents are often told that they're too soft on their kids. I don't know about you, but if I hear "spare the rod, spoil the child" one more time, I'm going to use "the rod" on myself. There are plenty of ways to teach your kid right from wrong that don't involve violence of physical harm. Those alternative disciplinary methods can be just as effective. What ultimately works for each family all depends on the kids in it because, you guessed it, every child is different.
"You're Too Politically Correct."
I've never understood this so-called slight. Telling someone they're too "politically correct" is basically saying, "You're too kind and far too considerate of other people — usually marginalized, disenfranchised people — and it's annoying because you're making the rest of us look bad." Well, "the rest of us" do better. There's nothing wrong with being inclusive and celebrating diversity, and there's definitely nothing wrong with teaching your kid to do the same.
"You're Too Entitled, And Your Kid Will Be Too."
So, I'll let you guys run the numbers again if you want, but I'm still not sure how graduating into a failing economy, with an insurmountable amount of debt, working multiple jobs (at least, many of us are) and being arguably the most entrepreneurial generation ever, makes us entitled. The majority of parents can't afford to stay home, and when a parent does stay at home, it's usually because they can't afford daycare, and the choice is made for them. So we're teaching our children the value (not to mention, the necessity) of hard work. Our kids are seeing men and women work and raise families, and studies have shown that children benefit from seeing their mothers go to work, earn money, and feel fulfilled in their careers. Again, show me where this results in Millennials' kids being as spoiled and useless as we supposedly are.
"You Post Too Many Pictures Of Your Kid On Social Media."
And you post too many pictures of your food or your dog or your cat or your face? Except actually I don't care what you post because I'm not here to police your utilization of these relatively new technological tools. Honestly, social media is for us and our lives, and when you become a parent, your kid becomes a big part of your life. Posting pictures of your little on social media lets far away friends and family members share in monumental (or minuscule) moments. It's wonderful and it's no different than passing around a family photo album and we're smart about it, so back off.
"You Don't Care Enough About Tradition."
We're forming our new traditions; mixing the old with the new. I'd argue that every single generation has done that, and ever single previous generation always seems to have a problem with it.
Millennial parents aren't buying the "motherhood = martyrdom" idea anymore. We're realizing that in order to take care of our families, we have to take care of ourselves. We make sure that make time to do what we want, and/or what we need, in order to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit. We're all about self-love, and while some people will think us selfish because of it, we know that it is necessary. Not only does it make us better parents, but it sets a better example for our kids about the importance of self-care as an investment in being good for the people you love.
"You Don't Know What You're Doing."
Just because we don't make the same decisions as our parenting predecessors, that doesn't mean we don't know what we're doing. And for the times when we don't know what we're doing (because yes, those moments exist) don't act like we don't know that there were plenty of moments when every parent doesn't know what they're doing. We're all learning, one wrong choice at a time.
"You Confuse Your Kid By Being Open-Minded."
Children aren't stupid, and they're far more capable and aware than we ever give them credit for. You don't confuse a child by presenting multiple ways of thinking, and encouraging them to explore and learn and decide for themselves. Instead, you allow your child to find out what "intelligence" they most adhere to, so that they can better understand themselves and the world around them. We shouldn't be making every decision for our kid until the end of time, we should be preparing our children to make their own decisions when they're ready.
"Back In My Day..."
OK, no one wants to hear this because, honestly, no one cares. I mean, we care, because we like hearing stories and we want to learn from the past, but unsolicited advice wrapped up in condescendingly prescriptive lectures never helped anyone. We understand that things may have been done differently way back when, but things were different way back then. Change, believe it or not, isn't a bad thing. Not always.