Millennials get a whole slew of bad reputations for being too consumerist or for being slaves to their phones and/or artisanal pickles. However, when it comes to parenting, millennial moms are actually raising kinder kids than any of the generations that came before. It turns out that having all that self-awareness, as well as a plethora of resources at their fingertips, is actually making better parents.
It took me a little while to realize and accept that I am a millennial mom. I thought I might be "too old," but it turns out I sneak in right under the 1981 cut-off date. And when it comes to how I'm raising my daughter, I'm glad I can say I'm part of the millennial crowd.
One of the biggest reasons why millennials are raising kinder kids has to be because nearly every one of my friends says their first goal in parenting is to raise children who are kind to themselves and to those around them. Apparently there's an upside to seeing those trolls on Twitter during our formative years. Who knew?! We're all ready for an infusion of kindness and empathy into our world, and we're ready for it to start with our own families and children.
We Prioritize Kindness And Happiness
Prioritizing kindness is one of the biggest reasons millennial moms are raising kinder children. And it's no longer just "treat others as you'd like to be treated," it's teaching our kids to reach out and be proactively kind to others.
We also prioritize happiness and an awareness of happiness. Not to necessarily pressure our kids into needing to be happy all the time, but to recognize what makes our kids and their families happy (and it's probably not scheduling every minute of every day chock full of extracurriculars). Having an awareness of happiness and kindness is a major step toward recognizing how to help build that in other people as well.
We're Kind To The Environment
The primary school years of making posters about reusing, recycling, and and whatever that third re- was are seared into our memories, and there's no way our kids are going to escape. That means we encourage our kids to be good stewards of the environment, eating locally and sustainably, and with a consideration for who and what goes into what we consume.
We Allow Kids To Have Input In Decision-Making
I think my parents were raised by their parents with a whole lot of "my way or the highway" style parenting. My parents raised me with less than they were raised with, and my generation is raising our children with even less. Allowing kids to have input into decision-making and landing less on "I'm the parent, do as I say," as a rationale for rules or instructions means they feel more in control of their own destiny (on both a big and small scale). We're aware we need to put boundaries in place in order to have well-adjusted kids, but we can let them have some input as well.
We Know There Isn't One Way To Parent
Knowing there isn't one right way to parent not only allows us to be more open-minded in general (and accepting of other people's choices), but it allows us to modify our own parenting style — or what we assumed that style would be — when we realize it's not working for our wonderful, individual children.
We're Aware Of Changing Social Norms
Millennial parents are keenly aware that times have changed and are constantly changing. There aren't just two kinds of kiddos — male and female — and there isn't just one kind of sexuality to be. We're raising our kids with the knowledge and understanding that everything exists on more of a spectrum than a simple black and white binary, and we're raising our kids to live in that world without judgment. We're teaching our kids to learn and accept the whole spectrum.
Raising kids who have schedules that are packed very minute of the day with intense extracurriculars can turn them into cutthroat kids, teenagers, and adults who believe that filling the day is the key to happiness. But some of us were those kids, who realized that wasn't as fulfilling as it was made out to be, and who realized over-scheduling doesn't leave much time for just enjoying and being.
Millennial parents are allowing time for their kids to just be kids, taking the pressure off and in turn making them just a little more kind to themselves and the world.
We Put An Emphasis On Empathy
We started from an early age teaching our daughter that empathy for other people's circumstances, experiences, and situations is hugely important in understanding their actions and attitudes. We decided to accept foster babies shortly after we adopted her, and while she's obviously too young to understand what it really means to help people who are in a tough spot, our position was always that this was an opportunity to start teaching her that we empathize before we judge. It's our responsibility to put that empathy into action.
We Ask For Help
My parents sort of parented in a vacuum. They didn't have family around and lived in a rural community where there weren't neighbors to rely on if things came up. I can't imagine how difficult that must have been, as it truly does take a village to raise a well-rounded, kind child.
We Can Cope With Imperfection and Uncertainty
We survived the Great Recession and know that life might not always be perfect and success won't always be certain, and we've lived to tell the tale. We've had to be creative and entrepreneurial and sometimes downright scrappy. Knowing that perfection can't be the goal allows us to not expect perfection and certainty from our kids. Most of us almost expect that our kids will take what used to be considered non-traditional paths in their lives and that's not only OK, it's expected.