I know millennials are often vilified by older generations. Folks out there think we're lazy, arrogant, self-absorbed, whiny, entitled, and generally insufferable. They make claims that we were all raised to get trophies for trying (this is not true), or that we are narcissistic simply because we aren’t afraid to take a self-portraits with our smartphones. But millennials know these claims are false, and the proof lies in our children. The way I see it, millennial moms are raising smarter, happier kids than previous generations. We’re learning from the mistakes of our baby boomer parents and gen-x older siblings, harnessing the power of technology, and coming up with new standards of parenting.
That doesn’t mean our parenting styles are flawless, by any means. For example, while you might think millennials would be ready to abolish spanking, studies show that our generation still mostly approves of this outdated practice. And because we’re big on allowing our kids to embrace a unique identity, we tend to give them very off-the-beaten-path names (though not always).
Still, we are much more open-minded than our parents ever were, and we definitely don’t scare as easy. So how exactly might we be raising more intelligent, smiling kiddos?
I remember being a kid and having my mother go through my room and looking through my stuff. I remember what an invasion of privacy it was. I feel like a lot of millennials understand that invasion, and as such, will be attempting not to do the same to our own children.
The concept of consent is really gaining widespread popularity. I don't recall adults ever speaking to me about, except perhaps to tell me that if an adult tried to touch me in my “private parts,” I should run and tell my parents. As a millennial parent, I'm going a step further and making sure that my son understands the boundaries of consent and that his body is his own.
Millennial parents are definitely more understanding when it comes to matters of sexuality. More and more of us are coming out as queer, lesbian, gay, polyamorous, etc. So it's a safe assumption that many of us will be very open-minded should our own children someday reveal to us that they are not heterosexual.
The concept of deciding our own pronouns is really catching on with millennials. Although many of us still end up choosing pronouns for our children at first, many of us are receptive to how our children want to be referred to later in life as they discover what gender is right for them. There's still more work to be done, but we're definitely on the right track.
I feel like older generations tend to be more hypercritical of their children's interests. My own parents were not always accepting of the types of music or books or shows I enjoyed. But millennial parents? Yeah, we've kind of been there, so rather than putting down our children's interests, we're more open to listening to why it is they like the things they do.
If I had a dollar for every friend (and millennial parent) I know who grew up with a narcissistic parent, I’d be a happy camper. That's not to say there's no such thing as a narcissistic millennial parent, but rather that we are more aware of what narcissistic personality disorder looks like. Millennials appear to be much more outspoken about mental illness and more open about abuse, both physical and emotional. Many of us are dedicating our lives to making sure our children don't grow up with that form of narcissism looming over them.
Millennial parents seem to have more of a go-with-the-flow style of parenting. Of course this is not all across the board, but many of us understand that free play is just as important a structured play. We want our kids to be able to socialize on a number of levels, whether it be in a classroom setting, in-group sports, or at the park.
I know lots of millennial parents who don't advocate lying to their children in any way, shape, or form. Some of them go so far as to not even teach their children about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, or anything related. But in general, our method is to make sure that our children are happy and that they don't feel as though their parents have been lying to them from day one. (There will always be some exceptions, but you get the gist of it).
As millennial parents, many of us dislike authoritarian parenting approaches. We know and recognize that children can and should have a say in the rules of the household. We know that children should have responsibilities within the household. We know they deserve explanations just like we do. We respect their opinions, even if they are contrary to our own. And we know that this will pay off in the long run, because they will always know their parents respected them as autonomous human beings.