Uh oh. The word "millennial" is in the title of this article. I'm pretty sure that's your cue to roll your eyes and drop some critical comments without even reading. (Go ahead, I'll wait. Just be warned: the rest of this article might challenge the point you're about to make, thus enabling a different commenter to screenshot and copy their point later in the thread.) Among all the things millennial moms know better than anyone else, we know that other generations — and even some members of our own generation — love to hate on us, as though we're the only generation to do things differently than the generation before us, inspiring their concern and worry in the process. (We're not.)
There are some who think the vitriol directed at millennials is actually unexpectedly intense, but I think that's actually a result of the same oft-maligned technology magnifying the amount of criticism we face, as well as the extent to which we differ from previous generations. Folks have been concerned about the alleged shortcomings of the generations coming behind them for as long as we've been keeping track of intergenerational conflict. Nevertheless, regardless of how many or how few haters we actually have, as a millennial mom I know we have a lot of things going for us that many other generations would do well to respect.
For starters, we not only have more information about parenting available to us, we are also more willing to reckon with it than generations past. Instead of automatically assuming we should just raise our kids the same way other people around us did, we actually take it on ourselves to learn more about various parenting styles and then make an informed decision. Sure, we're just as imperfect as every generation of parents that came before us. However, we're definitely trying to strike a better balance between our own needs as mere mortals, and our ideals as people who want to make the world a better place, than perhaps any generation before us. As a result of this and plenty of other struggles, we've also learned the following lessons quite well:
There's Such A Thing As Too Much Information…
Not just, "TMI!" in the overshare sense (ha! We're definitely still figuring that out), but too much information in the, "Information Overload! I can't make a decision!" sense. We have more choices and more knowledge available to us than any other parenting generation, and that can be overwhelming at times.
...But There's No Way We’d Go Back To A Time When Folks Knew (Or Shared) Less
Sure, it might be nice to not fear seeing photos of baby poop when surfing Facebook on our lunch break. But for the most part, millennial moms are glad that folks have taken the time to learn all the stuff about car safety, and food safety, and discipline, and everything else folks didn't always know in years past. It helps us keep our kids safer, healthier, and happier than we'd be able to otherwise.
There's More To Parenting Than Just Having A Kid And Keeping Them Alive…
We want to raise our kids to stand for equality, and justice, and not just the American way, but the global way. So we seek out parenting philosophies and information that will help us raise our kids to be as amazing as we know they can be: creating a better society than the one we inherited in the process.
...But Some Days, That's The Best You Can Do And That's OK
While plenty of millennial moms struggle with our own issues around perfectionism and all that, we're also lucky to live in a time when more moms than ever have been willing to be honest about how damn hard it is to be a mother. So we also know we can forgive ourselves if we're just getting by. More than most, we're coming to understand that struggle is normal, and that there's no shame in that.
There Are Many Right Ways To Be A Mom...
We're more aware than many generations of the many different ways to parent. That means we know that even if we're not totally sold on how we were raised (or are actively trying to counter a history of toxic parenting) we can find a way to parent that meshes with our values.
...But It's Hard Not To Worry That You've Chosen Wrong Sometimes
Such is the paradox of choice: the more aware you are of the possibility that you could have done things differently, the harder it is to choose, and to be satisfied with what you decide on. Sigh.
The Internets Are Your Friend…
There's a lot to be said for having virtually the entire store of human knowledge at your fingertips. You can research ingredients, information about safety recalls, or mindful parenting techniques in the exact moment that you most need to. How lucky we are to be alive right now!
...And Your Enemy
Fact: Google has diagnosed me and my baby with rare tropical cancer diseases approximately eleventy billion times.
Social Media Is Essential...
Who among us could survive without the support and endearingly snarky understanding of our online mom groups? And how, exactly, does one construct a baby registry without polling their friends on Facebook? (There are too many options to sort through on your own.)
Also, who has time to disseminate baby photos via mail or in person or carrier pigeon or whatever? Thank you, social media, for helping people I love (but don't live near enough to see regularly) watch my kids grow.
...And It’s Also The Worst
Social media obviously has some major downsides, though. Online mom group drama, is the most (hilariously?!) excruciating kind of drama. Also, no other generation has had to worry that their worst parenting moment or mistake — and everyone makes mistakes — will go viral. Social media giveth, and social media taketh away. And then memes you into wishing you were never born.
Other Generations May Have Their Doubts About Us…
Older folks are always hating on Millennials, but whatever. Who gave us all those participation trophies (while destroying the economy and the environment), hmmmmm?
...But That's Their Problem. We Got This.
People have been complaining about "kids these days!" since the day before forever. Every generation does it, so I don't take it all that personally that parents before us are doing it, too. However, I'm also damn proud of my generation, for being even more committed to raising fair-minded kids than generations before us, and especially for being more committed to nonviolent parenting than generations before us. We are wading through all this research, and weighing it against our own values and experiences, and coming out on the other end as stronger, better parents for it. That benefits our kids and society as a whole, and I think we deserve plaudits for that.