I never would've categorized myself as a "millennial mom" but, having been born between 1980 and 2000, I am. I see the term tossed around as if it's a bad thing but I prefer to wear it like a badge of honor. Millennials aren't just breaking barriers when it comes to societal norms; we're smashing them when it comes to parenting. So, it should come as no surprise that there are a few things, millennial moms don't need your opinion on in order to crush everything we touch. I know what you're thinking — modest much? — and I totally get it. If I weren't on this side of things, I might have the same preconceived notions about millennials that our elders seem to have. Luckily, I have some insight.
My parents, though divorced when I was seven, raised me on a specific set of beliefs. A lot of them are completely traditional and old-fashioned and honestly, not any way I wanted to live my life. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I'd raise my kids differently so they could be whoever it is they wanted and were meant to be. I wanted them to grow with the confidence and the belief they can rule the world and do anything without barriers. After all, times have changed and so have the ways we're collectively choosing to parent. Honestly, I think it's a pretty damn good thing. Millennial moms have the chance to raise more insightful, compassionate, technology-inclined, sensitive kids. Our children can be more aware with the world around them than I was, my parents, and their parents before them. It doesn't mean everyone deserves a trophy for participating. I think, actually, it's the opposite. My children are just as competitive and scrappy as I was and we come from two different backgrounds. It's all in the lessons you, as their parent, teach them.
Now, I'm not saying millennial parents are automatic experts in parenting, but we're definitely willing to try different methods until we find something that works for us. There's no one way to do it and that's a good thing. Because there are many different options now, here are some of the things we millennial moms don't need your opinion on. Trust me when I say: we've got this.
How Much We May Hover Over Our Children
I'm a self-proclaimed helicopter parent and I can't (read: won't) apologize for it. We live in a different time. With technology abundant, it's not only helpful but sometimes necessary to keep a watchful eye on my children. I don't want a repeat of that time my daughter got caught in a children's website chatroom using words she didn't even know the meaning of again. You may have an opinion, thinking I'm being overly protective or — gasp! — too controlling, but I see it as staying one step ahead of the dangers that lurk. It's called parenting and we all do it differently. This is my way.
Whether Or Not (Or How Often) We Post On Social Media
Again, we live in an age where the internet and technology rule. We've advanced eons from when I was young and I only expect it to evolve further by the time I'm a grandparent. I get that some Generation X'ers or Baby Boomers may not quite grasp the appeal of posting our lives and thoughts and opinions on social media, but this is the way we connect now. I know, it's not as personal as a hand written letter or phone call, but it's how we do it. So either text, email, or Tweet at me if you want to chat. Otherwise, take a number.
Which Electronics We Let Our Kids Have
My partner and I do let them occasionally play on our Kindle or tablet, and when we're in a pinch, our phones. We have a central TV with Playstation and Netflix for gaming and shows and no one is allowed on mommy's computer without permission and observation. Yes, our children reap the benefits of the things we've worked hard for, but they also have chores and responsibilities to earn their time. They're not entitled or ungrateful. To think otherwise reflects only on my parenting.
What We Feed Our Family
For many years, I was a vegetarian. It was both an ethical choice as well as an accomplice to my food aversions. Basically meat didn't (and sometimes still doesn't) do it for me. Once I became pregnant with our first born, my taste buds changed and, though I'm still majorly picky over meat, I eat it.
My views, however, aren't carried over onto my children — unless they choose not to eat meat. My son is notoriously finicky, just like me. He's not spoiled for having an opinion on what goes into his body. Even if we were to choose to raise our kids vegetarian or vegan, it still wouldn't be anyone else's business. As long as they're healthy, that's all that matters. If that makes millennial moms obsessively concerned with every aspect of our children's lives, so be it. We're striving to be better than generations before us.
Gender Barriers (That We Don't Believe In)
Look, if my son wants to play with my daughter's dolls (as he often does), and my daughter wants to play with my son's superheroes (as she does), I'll be the first to encourage it. We do not live in the old-fashioned, stereotyped 1900's and I'm striving to raise compassionate, considerate, and empathizing human beings. The only way to do that is to let them walk in each other's footsteps. Judgements on my daughter's masculine shirts or my son's desire to paint his finger nails will be rivaled because, I promise you, these kids (and others like them) will be the ones who lead our country in equality.
How We Balance Work And Home Life
I've been a work-from-home mother for years, though before that I worked outside the home. My partner works full time as well, which means I'm also the sole caregiver. It's sometimes difficult to get all the items crossed off my to-do list but I manage.
Long gone are the days women are expected to just raise the children and finally. Not only are we raising them but we're kicking ass in the workplace and in life. We don't need your opinions on how much easier it might be if we quit our jobs to stay home (or whatever sexist remark you want to insert bout our choices).
How We Punish (Or Don't Punish) Our Kids
Yes, I know that parents before us spanked their children and the argument I often see is "we turned out fine and respect our parents for it." I argue that some who were spanked have also been hardened by that specific form of punishment. My dad still talks about being whipped with a switch or belt and it's obvious it affected him in irreparable ways. I, too, remember being spanked and how it made me feel. It didn't fix anything and honestly, I only felt like no one heard the reasons why I did the bad thing in the first place.
For us, we choose to find more sympathetic ways to teach our children what lesson is to be learned from whatever it is they've done. It doesn't mean I don't lose my temper (I do), but our generation believes that to evolve, we have to find new, more effective ways to raise our children, so they are more empathetic and aware of consequences to their actions and not hardened by life before they ever get out of the house to live it.
It's clear we're raising our children in a different era so it requires different methods. Whether you agree or not, one thing is clear: millennial moms are rocking this parenting thing.