I was having a bad day with my son. It was one of those whiny, bratty days kids have that completely get the best of us as moms. It wasn't his proudest moment, and it certainly wasn't mine either. I find writing cathartic, so I took to my blog, where I typed up a post about what I'd just experienced with my son. I took a deep breath and hit publish, then promoted the blog post on Facebook, a sense of relief washing over me.
That feeling of relief, however, was short-lived. Almost immediately, my post started garnering vitriolic comments from other women, some of whom were members of older generations. "It's your fault," one of them wrote. "You're raising an entitled child."
Because I was born in 1986, I'm technically considered a millennial. Millennials don't have a great reputation. Forbes has noted that baby boomers in particular tend to believe that millennials are spoiled, lazy, and entitled little brats. Having my first child in 2008 means that I'm considered a “millennial mom,” which implies that my children will be similarly entitled and spoiled.
Well, quite frankly, I think that reputation totally sucks, and it's time for it to end. I'm sick and tired of being told that my age makes me a bad mom, and I'm tired of being told that all millennial moms are raising entitled kids. We're not. We're just doing the best we can.
I graduated from college during the economic recession, but I had an intense entrepreneurial spirit, as well as the knowledge that I needed to work hard to achieve what I wanted in life. I was in control of my own destiny and I knew that no one was going to hand that to me. I’m a hard worker, as is my husband, and we've worked hard to get our children to see that as well.
It's unfair that because of my age, I’m perceived as a s**ty mom by default.
As soon as I had kids, I became consumed with doing my job to raise grateful children with manners, who are self-sufficient and make responsible, morally upright decisions. Every day, my 8-year-old son sees me working hard at home to put a roof over his head and food in the fridge. Kids learn so much more from what they see than what they’re told over and over again, and I’m doing my best every day to make sure he knows there’s hard work involved in raising a family.
So it's unfair that because of my age, I’m perceived as a s**ty mom by default. I hear the whispers if my son whines for a new toy while we're in Target, and I see the eye rolls when he throws an occasional tantrum if he doesn't want to leave the park just yet. To me, this is my son just being a kid and not able to fully express how he's feeling the way an adult can. But because I'm a millennial mom, people automatically look at my son's behavior and see it as a reflection of my parenting.
Recently, an article in the Huffington Post dissected the notion that today’s parents might be getting a "raw deal." Writer Rhonda Stephens compared millennial parenting to that of previous generations, when children were less spoiled, helped out more around the house, and weren’t just handed that cool new pair of Converse kicks just because. “We’ve got an entire generation of kids spitting up on outfits that cost more than my monthly electric bill," Stephens griped.
I think there's some truth to what Stephens was saying. Kids today are definitely more indulged than kids of previous generations. But that's in part because times have changed. Parents were more focused on paying off their mortgage and saving for retirement than making sure their kids had iPhones and were wearing notable designers, because times have changed and that's just more of a priority in our culture now. But that doesn't necessarily mean that parenting goals have changed. Both millennial parents and boomers want to raise smart, responsible, morally upright kids, and that's going to be the case regardless of generational differences.
I don’t know a single millennial mom who isn’t actively trying to fight the stereotype that her kids want everything handed to them on a silver platter.
We tend to generalize about every generation, but we are individuals. We are our own people. Most people I know in my generation believe in change and want to raise our future generation to be hard-working and grateful, and I don’t know a single millennial mom who isn’t actively trying to fight the stereotype that her kids want everything handed to them on a silver platter.
Does my son get everything he wants? Absolutely not. If he works for it, we have no problem recognizing his hard work with a reward. But that doesn't mean it's entitled — it means we're teaching him the value of hard work. At the end of the day, maybe some of us want to spoil our kids a bit here and there, but that certainly doesn’t make us bad moms. It just means we're parents who all have the same goal: we want the best for our kids.