The term "millennial" hits a nerve. Somewhere along the way, being a millennial, and parenting through it, developed a negative connotation. Whether we're being grouped in with those who are "on their phones too much" or who are too involved in what's known as "soft parenting," we're constantly being bombarded by the things people say about millennial moms that are actually really offensive. In ten years of being a mother, I've heard my fair share and let me tell you, they hurt. Not only do these types of quiet insults attempt to derail my parenting but they're actually not helpful in any way.
By definition, a millennial is someone" born between 1980 and the early 2000s" so, because I fall somewhere in there (age is just a number, really), I'm a millennial mom; a modern, more liberal version of my mother and grandmother, only with a stark contrast: I aim to raise my children with diverse philosophies and principles so they'll be able to navigate our ever-changing landscape on their own terms, as opposed to those set out for me when I was young. I think the beauty of millennial parenting is that the old way of doing things doesn't have to be our way.
I was raised in a mostly conservative family. We went to church on Sundays through my parents' divorce, and even as I grew into womanhood, sex before marriage was not an option. The views molded by my parents and, with the exception of my low-key feminist grandmother, those before them set my younger brother and I up for certain beliefs and ideals. The way I'm changing that with my own children is by being more present than what I experienced, but at the same time, not relying so heavily on any specific role. I'm a mom, but I'm also passionate about my career. I believe in equality and the right for a woman to decides what she does with her own body.
Times are changing, but it's not a bad thing. I think we're raising more compassionate, strong-willed, accepting children than generations before us and in today's political climate, that's a good thing. On that note, here are some things people say about us millennial moms that are more offensive than they may realize. To be clear, they're not cool so give us a break, will ya?
"Why Do You Take So Many Pictures?"
When someone asks me why I take so many photos, I could literally launch my phone at them (if it wouldn't accidentally delete some of those precious pics). I take tons of pictures of my children because I can. I grew up in a time when it wasn't so easy to snap a photo because my mom would have to get (and pay for) the film developed — which could take forever — and even then, it'd end up in some old memory book that's been lost through multiple moves. I want to document my children's lives so that later in life, when my memories fade, I can look back to see all the great times we had. So before you bother asking "why" just walk away.
"You're Too Involved With Technology"
Here's the thing: we live in a technological age. If we aren't adapting to the evolution, we're going to get lost. It wasn't long ago, I listened to CDs and before that, cassette tapes. My parents had records. Now? We have all of our music online or through the tap of an iPhone button. Same goes for phones. No more rotary or push button phones and no more cell with the long antennae. The internet and the way we use computer has changed as well.
I used to wait for the dial-up to connect and only then, it blocked the home phone line so my mom would set time limits. But now? We've come so far, it'd be a shame for my children not to know how to use any of it. I'd be doing them a disservice. We live in a society that functions on technology so of course I'm going to parent based on that.
I'm a helicopter parent but I won't apologize, nor will I change my standard to adapt to someone else's idea of what I should be doing. If it comes off as overprotecting, so be it. My childhood consisted of riding in cars with no seat belts or booster chairs, eating whatever without concern for health, and being subjected to situations where, I could argue, I wasn't safe. I want different for my children. I want better. We live in a time where I'm able to do that so really, just let me be. Thanks.
"You're Going To Raise A Spoiled Child"
I was raised on minimal funds, struggling and hustling for meals and security, so why would I want that for my children if I can give them more? There's a fine line between my approach and raising spoiled children, but I'd rather straddle it than have them experience any part of what I knew growing up. They're good kids, they do well in school, and they know how hard me and my partner work to earn our keep so if we want to buy them a toy here and there, and their attitudes aren't affected, we will.
"You Can't Have It All"
While I don't necessarily agree with the "superwoman" tag, I do think we millennials are highly capable of "having it all," or, pretty darn close. The reason for this is twofold: we're taking on multiple roles and we're highly driven. Gender barriers don't stop us from attempting to do the impossible and, most likely, if you tell us we can't do something, we're going to work that much harder to make it happen. I'm a working mother of two. I train and run long distance races. I'm an author. An advocate. A feminist. Maybe that's not everything, but there's little I can't do.
"You Must Be A Trophy Parent"
There's a mass of people — typically an older generation — that seems to think we millennials thrive on our children receiving participant medals and trophies, as opposed to them earning a deserving place for one. They say we aren't letting them endure failure and therefore, stating our children will grow up as a "gimme" generation because they're going to expect everything handed to them. I have two issues with this. One being, I'm not one of those parents. I teach my children to work hard in everything they do. If they fail, it's on them to work harder for the next time. This is one aspect of my childhood I will carry on because it works.
Secondly, while I'm sure there are some millennial parents who believe in this, I'm sure if they took a look at the circumstances, even they could admit this is self-serving. The trophies aren't for the five-year-old that lost the game of dodgeball—they're for that little boy's mom or dad. To re-enforce the idea that their child is skilled, even if they are not. It's a flawed sentiment because the vast majority of us want our children to work for what they get—just like we have—so to say this is not only an insult to us, but also our children who really have no say in the matter.
"Your Kids Will Never Know The Value Of Hard Work"
I don't believe my kids need to go through The Great Depression in order to work for what they have. We don't need to subject them to any of the hardships I knew as a child if we can help it; it won't change the way I parent them. I much prefer they hadn't gone through any of those things and instead, I show them the value of a dollar, what an hour's worth of work gets you in America today, and how far that money goes once they've earned it.
I've been working professionally in writing, and ghostwriting, for over ten years. I've had lots (and lots) of closed doors, and I've done nothing but work my behind off to get where I'm at. If my children don't understand work by my example in action, they never will.
"Do You Have To Post About Everything?"
Much in the way I take ten pictures of the same pose, I also post about our lives a lot online. With various social media accounts, it's important these days to stay engaged, especially when working in my field, from home.
While I don't post every last thing, I post my fair share for friends and family to keep up with our lives from afar. It's a blessing and a curse to have technology in every aspect of our lives but this is where we are in the world today. I put limits on what my kids do with technology and at times, even I take a break from all things social media. Judging me based on my online presence, or that of my children's use of electronics, is unfair.
I have anxiety disorders that I try to reign in but the moment someone interrupts my parenting to say "calm down," I could explode. Also, it never helps to add "it's just a (fill in the blank). It doesn't matter if I'm fuming over how a teacher handled a school project, what a family member fed a child who shouldn't have had that particular item, or the way I'm spoken to about my philosophies and beliefs as a millennial mom, if you can't say something nice, please, back away and let me "calm down" on my own.
Being a millennial mom means always having to defend our choices and quite frankly, I'm over it. We're all doing the best we can to raise great kids. Really, isn't that what matters most?