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8 Ways Millennial Moms In The South Are Breaking Stereotypes & Changing How Parenting Is Done

It wasn't so long ago that women on TV were being portrayed as damsels in distress that desperately needed a man to validate their existence. Southern women, in particular, fell victim to that society's narrow-minded vision of a woman's place in the world, and were burdened with fighting gender-based stereotypes for decades. Time and time again, Southern women were depicted as glorified maids reliant upon the support and protection of the men they chose to marry. Cast in the shadows of those men, they were painted as helpless and labeled as nothing more than simple-minded, meal-making housewives whose sole purpose in life was to please their man. This, if you've ever met a real Southern woman, is about as laughably far from the truth as you can get.

Fast forward to 2015 and the story lines have shifted a bit. Now that Millennial women are having children of our own, we're even more fervently setting our own standards, and stepping out from behind the shadows of the antiquated social dynamics that hid us there in the first place. Honestly, It's a shame that the term "Millennial" is accompanied by eye rolls and the undeserved label of over-privileged hipsters. We're cast as self-absorbed techies, selfie enthusiasts, and controversial conspiracy theorists. Millennial women, in particular, are battling unfair stereotypes, especially in the South, where we're not only dealing with the Millennial stereotypes cast upon us by older generations, but the Southern stereotypes cast upon us by our peers in other places.

But the truth is that Millennials are accomplishing some great things for this world, and Millennial mothers are a huge part of that. We're raising the next generation of humans and we intend to right a few wrongs in the process. We're opening our hearts and our minds to new ideas and making real changes that are long overdue. Southern Millennial mothers are no exception and play an incredibly important role in the progressive shift taking place in regards to how Southern women are perceived, how they live, and how they parent. We've got more than just a few bones to pick with the misogyny of our history, and we intend to redefine those expired standards while raising our children to be loving and respectful members of a much more empowered generation.

We're going about things a bit differently than those dainty damsels of the past. We're damn proud of how far we've come and we're pretty sure Scarlet O'Hara would be too.

We Care About The Health And Quality Of Our Food

OK, not all of our food is organic but many of us commit as much serious time to reading labels and hunting down farmer's markets as moms in any other part of the country. It's not all collard greens and Pop Tarts for our kids. Processed foods and preservatives can feel nearly impossible to avoid entirely, but despite the cliches about Southern families eat a high-fat, high-carb, high-junk food diet, we actually do our very best to educate ourselves and our children on how to eat clean and healthy.

We Understand Technology, And Use It, And Love It, And So Do Our Kids

I'm not sure if Southern people in general will ever fully escape the stereotype of being uneducated, rural, farm-dwellers who live perpetually several decades behind the rest of the country, but for most of us, it's so hilariously incorrect. We might talk a little slower in the South but that doesn't mean that we aren't up to speed with technology. While our parents' solution to computer problems is kicking the monitor while blurting out various profanities, we usually solve our IT issues in a peaceful manner without causing bodily harm to ourselves or our electronics. Technology changes every day and our ability to adapt and learn those changes is vital in today's ever-evolving world. Southern parents are as likely to be dependent on babysitter-booking apps and Amazon Prime as anyone else in any other part of the country.

We Aren't Nearly As Traditional As You Think

The South prides itself on tradition and legacy. Part of that legacy often includes following in a parent's footsteps and carrying on a family business or other tradition. Modern Southern moms encourage creativity and individuality — we love football, but if our kids don't want to participate in the Friday night lights, we're totally cool with that. We want them to be happy and are supportive of whatever route they seek to get there, even if it's a little foreign to us, or different from what we did when we grew up.

We're Great With Money

Historically, "well-bred" southern women never sought work outside of the home; tending to their home and family was their job and they had little say in how money was spent. Thankfully, those days are long gone now and women are just as capable, if not even more so, as men of bringing home the bacon. And those of us who do choose to be stay-at-home moms, well, choose it (and judging on every single SAHM I know in the South, they're the ones who manage the money in the family). Southern moms aren't glorified nannies who need to ask for money — we've got our own and will spend it however we see fit (sometimes it's at Target buying things for which we have zero need because actually, yes, an addition to Target is a real thing in the South).

We want our children to grow up with an example of what a strong woman looks like, whether that is a woman that stays at home and raises a family, or one that punches a time clock every day, the choice is ours to make.

We Support Marriage Equality

Look, I know that I can't speak for everyone but I can say this: The notion that being Southern automatically makes you bigoted or racist is simply incorrect, and it's something that never stops feelings hurtful when people assume it about us. The truth is, even those Southern moms who are conservative in a lot of ways are fully onboard with even more progressive civil rights: We believe that everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. Many of our older relatives have a more conservative approach to marriage equality and some even frown upon our more "liberal" opinions, but we stand firm in our belief that everyone deserves love (even narrow minded biggots unwilling to accept change and practice human decency).

Our kids will know what love looks like, and that it has nothing to do with gender, class, or color. Love is love, and it always wins.

We're More Environmentally Conscious

There are those in the South who stand firm in their belief that global warming is a hoax. I'm no scientist (but I do have access to the Internet); All I know is that I love the world I inhabit and see nothing wrong in sustaining its beauty. For modern Southern mothers, taking care of the earth isn't a political issue — it's common sense. Our kids are going to inherit what we leave behind and we want them to understand how beautiful this place really is. Recycling is easy and cutting back on energy consumption is so simple — why would anyone object to making our world a better place for future generations? (*Cue tree hugger comments*)

We Embrace Diversity

The fact that anyone ever believed that being born of a certain skin tone or ethnicity somehow placed them on a pedestal of supremacy is beyond baffling to me. A person's skin color doesn't define them, their actions do. I don't care what race you are, if you're a decent human being we can be friends. Yes, people in the South will probably always (sadly) be living surrounded by more vestiges of the horribly racist conditions that define our past, and linger into our present. But Millennial Southern moms? We are largely the ones working our asses off to make sure we further undo those problems by raising equality-minded kids who respect all humans, and are trained to recognize where injustices still exist. (Again, that's not everyone, but then, there are awful people everywhere.)

We Are Incredibly Independent

Southern women are no longer waiting for some knight in shining armor to come riding up on some ridiculous white horse to save us from our peril. We've got our own damn horses. We're not about to bat our eyes and laugh at some douche's college humor to validate his masculinity so he'll buy us a drink. We're grown-ass women — we can buy our own drinks. And that kind of self-sufficient attitude and confidence is probably the defining thing about how we identify as moms and how we raise our kids.

Images via: Brook Cagle/Unsplash; Giphy (8)