A glimpse into the lives of Millennial parents

MICHAEL [(CC BY-NC 2.0)] / FLICKR
Millennial parents question traditional values of their parents

Were you spanked as a child? Have you ever been terrified at the sight of a wooden spoon or, heaven forbid, a belt?

Different tendencies, principals and attitudes about parenting have been passed down from mom to daughter and father to son for decades. However, like spanking and the occasional soap in the mouth for cursing, not all parenting techniques make it through to be passed on from generation to generation. Research indicates that only 50 percent of Millennials are raising their kids in the way that their parents raised them. With about half of the advice, behaviors and techniques left behind, for better or for worse, what new parenting knowledge will replace the other 50 percent and become the staples of Millennial parenting?

Most Millennials are now in their mid-twenties, which means many of them are already parents themselves. Putting their children on leashes while they Skype with their business associates in the park is a fair assumption to make about the typical Millennial parent. However, evidence suggests that Millennial parents are actually among the most accepting, adaptable and innovative set of parents the world has ever seen. For example, the Boomer generation only considered two genders: men and women. Sexuality was also easier: heterosexual and homosexual were the only two in the imagination of parents of that time. With queer, transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals being added to the conversation, the complexity of parenting has increased. Today’s young parents are conditioned to treat all types of sex, gender and expression as carefully as possible. This is a product of what we have seen the world become, and parents of today’s generation have adapted to changes that the parents of the past might not have anticipated. But we’re talking about Millennials —  they can adapt, accept and achieve more than most.

What about vaccines, talking to strangers in large white vans or drugs and alcohol? Today’s young parents more than ever are investing time and energy into reading every article surrounding a question or concern they have regarding their children. These parents themselves were raised in an environment where information was becoming more accessible and faster to acquire as an essential resource. Millennial parents are cautious and very apprehensive about the decisions they make for their kids. Millennials, unlike former generations, aren’t so eager to adopt the easygoing mantra of “what doesn’t kill them, makes them stronger” for their children.

Only time will tell whether giving your child a tablet at age three and then leashing them to a big oak tree will make them somewhat anti-social. Going to the mall with your parents when you were young might turn into “Amazon family fun time” when the family sits around the dinner table and shops while eating a gluten free non-GMO based dessert. Or instead of punishing your children in a more “traditional way,” there might be an app where one can inflict a non-fatal shock to the child’s brain through a microchip planted in the kid’s head after birth.  

Amid these uncertainties, one fact still remains: the food many Millennial parents are giving their children is a lot healthier and well-balanced than what they were served as kids. With the farm-to-fork frenzies and the “burn Monsanto at the cross” sentiment, young parents are gathering more and more information about what goes into their children in terms of food, medicine and vaccinations. Some theorize that it’s a direct link between how distrustful Millennials have become with the government and big business among the food industry. But I’m more inclined to believe that this generation is simply more circumspect and mindful of the decisions they make as parents. I cursed like a sailor when I was a toddler, and low and behold: massive amounts of Dove soap in my mouth turned out not to kill me.

 

Written by: Brody Wayne Fernandez — bwfernandez@ucdavis.edu

 

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