11 Things People Should Stop Saying About Millennial Moms
From the time I first heard the term "Millennial" I heard it as a pejorative. While it's technical definition is someone born roughly between 1980 and 2000, it has become a shorthand to describe someone who is whiny, thin-skinned, lazy, entitled, and self-absorbed. So, yeah, there are things people should stop saying about Millennial moms, because it's basically all nonsense and it's saying a whole lot more about you than it is about us.
While pop-culture often portrays and perceives Millennials as perpetually in their late teens to early-20s, we run the gamut from 16 to 36 and 90 percent of babies born today are born to Millennial moms. Which means we simultaneously get judgment moms always get plus judgment for being Millennials. Let's be clear here for a second, though: it's not just the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers who are giving the Millennial moms crap. It's other Millennial moms! It's absurd to me, but there's this weird cadre of self-loathing Millennials who refuse to identify with their peers because, um, actually I don't know what the "because" is. I guess they've bought into the hype that we're all losers and they're identifying with the people who have perpetuated those completely unfounded ideas to feel somehow superior. (See also Phyllis Schlafly and Uncle Ruckus.)
So much of the general judgment moms have faced since the beginning of forever are currently being attributed to a mom's Millennial status. Please, oh, please, I'm begging you to knock it off. It's unnecessary. It's unfounded. It's ridiculous. So if you all could just stop suggesting the following, that would be wonderful:
We're Entitled And Raising Entitled Children
Oh, this one is my favorite. "Millennials are entitled." It's applied to all Millennials, but Millennial moms get to hear how much our own selfish, spoiled attitudes are ruining our children and future generations. We're accused of wanting everything but disdaining the idea of wanting to work for it, sort of like every other generation before us. Unlike our parents and possibly grandparents, however, we Millennials are facing the difficult combination of a crappy economy (not pointing fingers there, though I could); rising education, rent, and childcare price tags; stagnant wages; and decreased access to social programs Baby Boomers (in particular) enjoyed that gave them a hand up. (Illustrated brilliantly over the years by one of my favorite memes, "Old Economy Steve.")
Let's please just kill this idea, OK? We are no more entitled than any generation that came before us, and our children are not "doomed."
Our Kids Are The Boss Of Us
I get this a lot, and it's the worst. A lot of Millennial parents practice (or kind of practice) gentle parenting, which my colleague Danielle Campoamor defines as "the choice to parent with empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries." But, somehow, the idea of respecting your child and trying to see where they are coming from before you move forward is seen by many as "coddling."
Just because we may take a different approach and our rules are different from your rules, doesn't mean we're coddling. You know who doesn't think my kids are in charge of me? My kids. My 5-year-old son has told me (more than once) how unfair it is that we don't listen to his rules. My children know who's in charge, and that's pretty much all I care about.
We Just Need To Hit Our Kids Once In A While
No. Stop. Just stop talking. I hate this so much. So first of all, Millennials' views on spanking are basically identically to those of previous generations of parents. So all of those ill-behaved, entitled brats you feel would be cured with a swat on the butt? There is a decent chance they have gotten a swat on the butt and it didn't cure them of their disrespectful tomfoolery. (OMG, I can't believe your super-scientific assessment was flawed!) But above and beyond that, for those of us who don't spank our kids, we have our reasons, and they're backed by a robust body of research.
We're Always On Our Phones
Do you know why parents today always seem to be on their phones? Because literally everything is on our phones. Our news, our conversations with friends, family, and professional contacts, our shopping, our reading material, our day planners, our work, our emails, picture of our children: all the stuff moms have been juggling for decades that you haven't been judging them for (oh, who are we kidding — you've always been judging) is conveniently located in one handy-dandy device. So save the pearl clutching about technology.
We're Helicopter Parents
Well, maybe if your generation didn't needlessly terrify us about "stranger danger" we would feel better about letting our kids go free-range. Of course, even if we are chill with being more permissive with our kids, we have to worry about well-meaning bystanders who thing they're helping children by calling the cops on parents who let them go to a park by themselves. So we're seriously in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" ouroboros of obnoxious judgment.
Our Problem Is That Everyone Got A Trophy When We Were Kids, And We're Doing The Same With Our Children
OMG you were the ones who gave us these goddamn trophies that we didn't even ask for! Would you please stop lording them over us and acting like the participation trophy is some sort of Millennial horcrux? I don't even know where my assorted participation acknowledgments are. I promise you that 95 percent of us never cared about them in the first place. Neither they, nor the larger idea that kids are worthy of praise, contributed to a generational curse of entitlement (which, as stated above, is a myth).
If us Millennial parents praise our kids, and don't require them to jump through hoops for our love and a sense of self-esteem, it's not going to ruin them, either.
We Need To Stop Posting On Social Media
Every parent has to decide for themselves how much of their lives (and their children's lives) they care to post on social media, and whatever they decide is really none of your business. A defining characteristic of the Millennial generation is our interaction with social media so, not to be flippant or anything, but this is sort of our area of expertise.
How about I make a deal with you? I'll post fewer pictures of my kids, if you stop posting fake news.
We Need To Stop Worrying About What Our Kids Are Eating
Compared to past generations, Millennials prioritize healthy eating. As such, Millennial moms are generally pickier about what they feed their own children. Which, anecdotally, leads a lot parents and grandparents, and whoever else, to say things like, "Oh, let the baby have some cake!" or, "They're not really allergic to peanuts! Let them try some peanut butter!" or, "Put cereal in that baby's bottle!"
Guys. Stop. Stop being weird about what other people eat. If my 3-month-old baby doesn't have chocolate ice cream, they're not going to live a sad life of deprivation and joylessness. Please just trust me on on this one.
We're Being Paranoid Because "I Did [Insert Some Terrifying Thing Here] And I Survived"
Well, you did, but actually a lot of you didn't in some cases. For example, since 1977 (when car seat safety was, let's generously call it "lax"), fatal car crashes for passengers under the age of 13 have gone from more than 1,400 per year to just over 600 in 2014. That's a massive decline. Sure, you could say, "Well it's still not a whole lot of kids dying in car crashes when you look at the total population," and you're right. Statistically, even a child in 1977 was probably going to go through a childhood of not wearing a seat belt (much less using a car seat) and come out OK. But for the 800 families whose child made it in 2014 that didn't in 1977, the difference is huge.
So the little extra hassle of making sure your child is in the right safety restraints is well worth the (honestly minimal) effort.
We Need To Stop Being Offended By "Every Little Thing"
I am regularly accused of being an "oversensitive Millennial" who is "offended by everything." I'm not, I'm just going to call you out on the gender-normative, racist, homophobic, and otherwise judgmental crap you say, especially when it's aimed in the direction of my children. Millennials are aware and engaged and that influences how we parent.
Compare Us To Moms "Back In The Day"
Because stop. The only thing that has changed less over the years than kids, are mothers. We love our children and worry about them and do our damn best just like we have since before we walked on two legs. The details change, but the gig has been unchanged for thousands of years.
So if you see Millennial moms doing something you don't like, chances are moms were judged for the same basic thing since before we and our smart phones were ever on the scene.