Are Millennials Better at Parenting?
In the history of parenting topics, it seems that absolutely nothing has been debated, criticized, and discussed more than millennials. Coined by the historians Neil Howe and William Strauss in 1991 as a word describing individuals born between the early 1980’s and late 1990’s, “Millennials” have become shrouded in far more negativity than their generational predecessors ever were. Why? What is it about 20 and 30-somethings that is driving prior generations crazy, and equally important; what does it mean for the art of parenting?
The Stigma Attached to Millennials
The millennial generation has been the most discussed and written about generation to date. Naturally, it’s not all good. Books like “The Dumbest Generation” by Mark Baeurlein spew long strings of harsh criticism aimed at young individuals who are said to have been coddled by their parents and are “narcissistic and lazy.” David French, author of “Fiercely Frail Millennials” described millennials as believing in two things. One, that success and emotional well-being are “central life goals.” Two, that parents and authority figures exist to facilitate these goals. Google search “millennials” and you’ll find any number of almost hateful articles discussing the generation. How much of this is actually fact?
It’s Not as Bad as You Think
For one, millennials are heavily critiqued because well, there’s a lot going on guys. Global warming, civil rights movements, acts of terrorism. All of these huge societal issues increase the expectations of the younger generation to provide answers and solutions. Seen as one of the most innovative and optimistic generations, every step (or misstep) they take is carefully documented and dissected. Yeah, we all hear the stories; “safe zones” in local colleges and the like. While these may seem, and even be, a bit ridiculous, it’s important not to group the actions of a few with those of the whole. The millennial movement has made leaps and bounds in societal change compared to their predecessors. In the city of Atlanta, millennials account for 25% of the general population. Since the rise of the millennial population the city has seen an increase in environmental groups to regulate the maintenance of the city as well as communal activities like city markets and parks. 94% of a group of millennials polled stated that they’d like for their skills to be applied to something that makes a difference. While this may seem like idealistic nonsense, it’s actually working.
Let’s Point Fingers!
So, why are millennials what they are? It seems no one can agree on an answer and ultimately just resort to name calling. One thing is for sure, older generation x and younger baby boomers (parents of the millennials) experienced huge shifts in parenting practices. Some individuals believe these changes in parenting styles were due in part to them being the first generation to experience the drastically increased divorce rate and the steadily inclining rate of crime in the United States. This resulted in comparatively more “helicopter” parenting as parents were generally more concerned with the safety of their children. If you’re not hip on the lingo, “helicopter” parenting refers to the act of hovering amongst one’s children ready to tend their every need at a moment’s notice.
MIllennials & Parenting
As you watch the 20-something year old ignore her screaming toddler on isle 3 of the grocery store, it’s easy to want to lay judgement. However, perhaps the most distinguishing quality of millennial parents is their desire to “break free” from their own negative childhood experiences and their openness to change. Take for instance, physical discipline; more and more parents are opting to try different ways of discipline their children rather than just following in their parent’s footsteps like the generations before them. Coincidently, since many millennial parents disagree with their parent’s strategies they don’t receive the support and guidance prior generations received. Thus, the millennial generation relies heavily on “experts” and community to share and find knowledge concerning parenting.
A Changing Perspective
Millennial parents also tend to see themselves differently than previous generations. According to an article written by Time’s author Belinda Luscombe, 57% of parents age 18 to 30 years old believe that they are doing a fantastic job parenting their kids. This is an almost ten percent increase from generation x’s 48%, and even further from the baby boomer’s 41%. Additionally, millennials believe collectively that they are more inclined to overprotection than freedom letting and are generally “more loving” than their parents were.
While the fact that 53% of millennials would rather lose their sense of smell versus their phones may seem like a recipe for disaster when it comes to raising functioning members of society, it’s important to remember so many other things also influence a child’s upbringing. Wealth, education, and even race are huge factors in the parenting style of choice for a family, and no one family is the same. The great thing about the millennial generation is the vast wealth of knowledge one has right at their fingertips. Parents with mentally challenged children can share techniques that have helped calm their children down with families across the world that may have never considered the idea. So, instead of bashing a single generation for its flaws (as we all have them,) let’s come together and determine the best possible outcome for our children’s future we can with our given resources.
By Hannah Clayton