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Parenting Like a Millennial Mum

Katya Bowd

Posted on November 17 2017

One of the best chick-flicks ever made was “You’ve Got Mail,” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. It represents such a capsulated look at what life was like at the very beginning of the phenomenon called email. The heroine was thrilled by the words that greeted her when she opened her inbox, telling her she had a message! The age of the internet came along, and “life as we know it” changed forever.

While this doesn’t directly have anything to do with parenting, it does bring into sharp focus the massive changes that have occurred in the last 3 decades. These changes have completely altered the landscape in which millennials find themselves developing their parenting techniques and holding their own in the workplace. These days, screen time isn’t just an after-dinner pastime in which we catch whatever happens to be on before we start the bedtime routine. It’s a major component of the breadwinner’s trade, a significant method of communication, and the world in which our kids are going to learn many of their skillsets.

What was once a novelty is now a way of life. And mums are at the heart of training the next generation to have a sense of balance, showing both sides how much can be accomplished on a global scale through technology, and the benefits of knowing how to unplug.

Not everyone is cognisant of the challenges they will face when they enter parenthood. Similarly, people often take for granted the unique benefits they enjoy that weren’t available to previous generations. (Take, for example, the frequency in which people today apply the term “life-hack” to simple ways in which previous generations accomplished everyday tasks).

Despite this, many millennials seem to be keenly aware that we have drastically unique generational quirks, and they are eager to arm themselves with knowledge to make the most of their experiences – “streamline” their parenting if you will. There is an insatiable hunger for information, mainly because we know it’s available. Mums are quick to tap into networks that reflect their personal values for the support and expertise others have to offer. Because of this, mainstream parenting strategies and lifestyles look a little different now than they did before the turn of the century. For example:

Learning styles have long been recognized as a factor in how children should be educated, but we live in an unprecedented era of limitless tools to support diverse educational methods. It’s no longer considered strange to employ homeschooling, or school online – it’s simply another option.

Parents are less enchanted with “stuff” in many cases, and more focused on providing experiences for their family to enjoy. A rising interest in minimalism combined with a difficult economy have changed much of how we celebrate, what we own, and ultimately what we teach our kids to value.

Many businesses are putting a large emphasis on the parental leave package they offer as an incentive for potential hires, and sometimes allowing a work-from-home option to reduce time lost during a commute.

Families are focusing on health and wellness, with an emphasis on clean eating. Mums can still be found working from home or working outside the home, TV dinners are not as much the norm as before. It’s less of a trade-off than it was to have a career and still be available for modeling healthy habits.

Because of these (and many other) adjustments to culture over the last couple decades, the tone of the average family is different as well. Dads are often home more than in previous generations, and also tend to be more engaged in home-management tasks. Kids have access to screens for significantly increased amounts of time compared to their predecessors – and parents aren’t too worried because it can be constructively directed. There is a greater demand for transparency from food sources – as a result, many food suppliers and restaurant chains have become more focused on clean ingredients and sustainable practices, giving our kids a healthier landscape for developing their relationship with food.

As best parenting tips are discussed, many millennials understand the concept of subjectivity – not everyone may agree with my way of doing something. And that’s ok. The labels are beginning to mean less as mantras like “we are all parents first” go viral. Each family has its own context, its own contribution to the world, and the opportunity to craft their own legacy. This identity that is largely created through our parenting has the never-before potential for global impact. Our children have unbelievable resources available to make changes for good that were non-existent for our parents and grandparents. And it’s because of the work we do today, creating those tools and opportunities.

If that’s not empowering, I don’t know what is. Granted, some millennials struggle to not confuse empowerment with entitlement, demonstrating a complex that seems to imply they are only willing to work if they can have the corner office when they start. That’s an unfortunate stigma to work around, and millennial parents would do well to direct their children away from such an attitude. We want our children to understand the value of having their potential recognized AND the necessity of working hard to have that potential realized. We encourage the exploration of options, the questioning of boundaries and the status quo. And, for many of us, we have the chance to model these concepts in our own lives.

It’s truly a wonderful time to be alive. Mums can instantly be in touch with someone for family advice thanks to social media. Kids can have meaningful relationships with relatives in another time zone. Many workplaces have grown to see the healthy balance of life and work as a key component to productivity and offer options accordingly, allowing families to spend greater quantities of quality time together. Every person has a voice, and a network in which that voice is heard, which is wonderful.

There are definitely some that don’t make the best use of the tools at their disposal, over-indulging scrolling habits to the neglect of responsibilities or getting involved in unhealthy online conversations, but not everyone. Many mothers are focused on bringing out the best in themselves, in their families, and others. They are taking advantage of the opportunity to easily research strategies, and learn from the experiences of others. While I seriously doubt any of us do a happy dance for the email-overwhelm epidemic often occurs, I don’t think any of us would go back to the days before “You’ve Got Mail,” either. Because our parenting techniques are no longer defined by our location, by our employers, or by contact with a limited number of people. And we like that. We mums want to do the best we possibly can with what we have, not taking anything for granted and teach our kids to do the same. What more could anyone ask?

We’d love to hear your insights on what it’s like to be a Millennial Mum. Tell us what you think in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading.

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