Until now the Baby Boomers have been the most populous living generation, but they have just been surpassed by millennials. The dates for generation Y, as the millennials are also known, vary according to whose definition is used but demographers William Straus and Neil Howe, who are widely credited with coining the term, define millennials as anyone born between 1982–2004.
Now those millennials are becoming parents themselves. According to the National Center for Health Statistics data, some 1.2 million millennial women gave birth for the first time in 2016. This raises the total number of U.S. women in this generation who have become mothers to more than 17 million.
Among millennials, 60% said that being a parent is critical to their overall identity, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey. A similar share, 58% to be exact, of Gen X parents said as much, as did a slightly smaller percentage, 51%, of Baby Boomers with children younger than 18.
Millennials feel good about their parenting, and they also seem to be having more fun with it than older generations. In the 2015 survey, they were more likely to say that parenting was rewarding (58%) and enjoyable (52%) all the time than were Gen X parents (51% and 39%, respectively) or Boomer parents (46% and 39%).
Having quoted all of the statistics, how does millennial parenthood look? What better way to explore parenting in the millennial generation than through the fabulous medium of Snapchat?
15 Making The Most Of It
The media often complains that millennials are, well, complainers. I would like to suggest the opposite is usually true. In my experience,
millennial parents have learned that the crisp, clean paths that previous generations made to their futures, Job - Marriage - House Purchase - Children, are unobtainable for them today.
This makes many millennials actually incredibly adaptable, with no strictly laid out plans and the flexibility to roll with changing landscapes.
What an excellent skill to have when you are given a tiny human being to raise. No amount of planning can really set you up for the trials and tribulations of parenthood and having a rough plan that you are prepared to be flexible over, is an excellent outlook to have.
This flexibility and open-mindedness are clearly demonstrated in the snap above. Where some parents, especially those of an older generation, might look on accidentally dropping a large dollop of dip on their child's head as a catastrophe, this millennial parent obviously has the flexibility to look at it quite differently. Snatching triumph from the jaw of certain disaster they turn the need to jump up and wash their child's head into an opportunity to relax and snack for a while.
14 Working It Out
One of the many downsides to being a millennial is that there are fewer jobs and that those jobs tend to need a particular set of skills, the like of which would rival Liam Neeson in "Taken."
Graduates are leaving University with their degree and suddenly discovering that because everyone has a degree these days, you have to have a Masters or a Ph.D. to even get a foot in the door.
Either that or you apply for a job and discover that during all those years you were in secondary education racking up student debt, other were busy gaining practical experience which is suddenly far more attractive to potential employers than your brain.
The flip side to this is that there are many people grasping the opportunity to start their own businesses and many of these new enterprises are open to more flexible modes of work such as telecommuting, job sharing and bringing your kiddo to work if the childcare lets you down at the last moment.
The only downside to this is that it can be detrimental to your work output when you suddenly find yourself sitting cross-legged on the floor playing "who can make the silliest face?" with your bosses kid.
13 Life Forever Ruined
Growing up with millennial parents will do some great things for generation Z. They are going to be the most well informed, connected, the open-minded generation we have ever seen, and they are going to be steered through life to adulthood by their generation Y parents.
These parents will embrace their children's unique personalities, and they will support their children's interests and passions because they will be sharing many of them. Graphic novels are mainstream today; superhero movies are box-office phenomena because they are watched by adults and Comicon is a regular holiday destination.
This allows millennial parents to enjoy and appreciate the same pastimes as their children, but it also allows them to share their kids every moment on the internet which may or may not turn out to be traumatic in later years.
This parent might find it funny, and I did too, but maybe this kid will be sick of the fact that everyone knows he cried when he met Robert Downey Jr. because he wasn't in his Iron Man Costume.
Never mind, by the time he's old enough to need therapy about it he'll be able to have his mom teleport to the therapists' office and explain herself. So she has that to look forward too.
12 Fly Me Baby
Having had the previous two generations, we're looking at you generation X and the Baby Boomers, totally ruin any chance millennials have of ever buying a home by destroying the markets, today's new parents are looking to spend their money on experiences rather than goods. They are also far more likely to throw some things in a bag at the last minute, tuck their child under one arm and their passport under the other and roll up to the airport to see where the next cheap flight is going.
This fun and relaxed attitude to travel and exploration are rubbing off on the millennials kids. Look at this little fella. Who looks that relaxed and cool during a flight? While some people are getting all sniffy and suggesting there should be child-free flights, lest their delicate sensibilities are offended by a miniature person making some noise, perhaps we should be advocating for family only flights.
How about free diapers and baby food available on every flight along with a child-friendly channel on the seat back TV and extra snacks and drinks all round to keep everyone happy? That sounds like a much better way for families to fly to me.
11 She Heard A Noise
Millennials are the first "connected generation" although depending on who you speak with some millennials will say they are the sandwich generation who missed out on the change, opportunities, and excitement of generation X while the computer and internet revolution didn't really kick in until they were beginning to have their own children. Nevertheless, the snap above clearly demonstrates one of the challenges millennial parents are facing that nobody before them had to worry about.
When TVs first took root in our homes, you watched a program when it was broadcast, and there was no other option. Kids would settle down to view the children's programs in the afternoon after school and on Saturday mornings. When videos recorders became every day, you could tape your show and watch it later, rent a movie, or buy your favorite film to watch whenever you liked.
There was little scope for a kid to watch undetected because the TV & VCR would be downstairs and there was no way you were sneaking down there to watch and not getting busted.
Today's parents have to content with their kids having access to streaming services on multiple devices in their rooms at any time of the day or night. Lucky them, the first generation to have kids who secretly binge watch at 3 a.m.
10 A New Outlook On Messes
Raising children in a technological age may have some disadvantages, but it also has plenty of advantages. Parents today tend to have a much broader, more open outlook than their parents before them and are generally more open to their child following their heart instead of trying to mold them into a person with a "proper" job like a doctor or an accountant.
This snap perfectly encompasses that mindset. To some parents, especially those in the past, a child covering their head in tomato sauce would have been seen as something to clean up and scold your child for.
Today it is seen as a potential indicator of future potential and that potential is not restricted by anything.
The children of millennials are unique in being the first offspring of a generation that was encouraged to believe they could do anything. Parents who have this mindset are far more likely to respond positively to a child who expresses an aspiration such as "I want to be a YouTuber when I grow up." These kids will be offered classes on video production and editing rather than steered away from what interests them towards something "more sensible."
9 Kids' Night Out
Children have always been exposed to the music of their parents, and some of them grow up loving it, and others reach adulthood hoping to never again hear another song that their mom or dad enjoys.
The differences between the generations though are pretty similar to the differences as TV evolved. Baby boomers were the first full generation to be buying records of their own and playing them independently of their parent's taste. They were, however, usually limited to playing music when they had access to the family record player.
Generation X was blessed with the Walkman tape player, closely followed by the Discman and were the first to have mobile music which they had total control over (more or less!) millennials took this and ran with it, being the first generation to embrace digital music. Their kids have grown with music in their pocket and as such are becoming connoisseurs of music at a much younger age, with many of them even becoming seasoned concert-goers before they reach their teens.
There is no accounting for taste though, and I totally understand this little one not being best impressed with her mothers choice of concert to attend. Poor kid should have something covering her eyes as well as covering her ears.
8 Teaching Crucial Life Skills
When you live in a society where you are unlikely ever to afford to buy a house and even renting a place is enough to mean you are living paycheck to paycheck, it is not unusual for parents to juggle some jobs each. In some households, childcare has also become something that is unaffordable, so working and childcare are shared in a kind of shift system.
This often results in one parent finishing work late and the second parent leaving early in the morning. If you are lucky, you might see each other as vague shadows as you pass each other in the bedroom. It also means that much of your relationship, and your parenting is conducted via notes and texts.
This is a prime example of note-swapping parenting at it's finest. If you do have to live like this, even for a short period of your life, you need to find the humor in the situation as often as possible, and that's where millennials have nailed it.
Some call it being glib or not being serious enough about life, but I see it as staying mentally healthy by laughing at the things you could quickly end up crying about.
7 Imagine It's Chocolate
Baby boomers were likely to live and raise their children within shouting distance of their own parents. If they were not close enough to pop around anytime, they liked they could rely on their own parents to be home and at the end of the phone line if they needed help.
Fast forward to the generation X and, although they were beginning to spread their wings and move further away from their comfort zones there was usually still someone available to chat to somewhere.
These days millennials are more likely to find their support networks online. You may not be able to physically cry on someone's shoulder when you share something on Facebook but you can interact when and where it works for you, and you can still feel supported.
This also involves lots of honest sharing in a way we have never experienced before.
There was a time when you would never have admitted your child covered everything in a ten-foot radius with #2, but now a much healthier attitude allows us to share what goes wrong.
This allows us to commiserate with each other and know that we are no the only person in the world to be confronted with a poopocolypse in the kid's room.
6 Like Mommy, Like Daughter
Even being a kid today is far more complicated than it was twenty years ago. Then you might have a small kids make-up kit and a couple of brushes which you would use to apply greasy goop to your eyelids and lips.
Today, millennial parents are more likely to have purchased a much more adult-like make-up set for their mini-me's. Then, your little one is more than likely to have at least one Disney princess dress in which they will attempt to live. Parents now have their little mini fashionistas who spend time watching mom apply her contouring and try to replicate the look themselves.
On top of this, you have to ensure your daughter is not overwhelmed by negative stereotypes, telling her how she should look, what she should do, how she could act.
Millennials are the first moms who have had to support daughters in a world where they are constantly bombarded by media trying to shape them. Never before have parents had so much content to police, on so many devices, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. They may be hyper-connected themselves, but they have to worry about their hyper-connected kids in a way nobody ever has.
5 'I Got This'
The children of millennials are the first to be learning to code in elementary school and to have clocks with faces replaced with digital clocks.
These kids have Google, Amazon, Alexa, Siri, Netflix, Apple, and YouTube to name but a few, and having access to all of this potential is making them the most tech-savvy, world-wise, enlightened generation we have ever seen.
The thought of having to parent such children is terrifying and millennial parents have an unenviable task, being the first to navigate this new era of child rearing.
This is leading to younger and younger children appearing to be even older than their years. At one time, in the distant past, a child who had done this would disappear, hoping they wouldn't be caught out. Later, the junior generation X-er's would have hung around and hoped not to get into to much trouble.
Millennials would have tried to wing it, and their children are hanging about and explaining why what they have done is not a problem, and all while they are still in diapers! At this rate, the toddlers of the world will be taking over before their parents are even aware of what's happening.
4 30 Seconds Is Too Long
The adults of today, who were born between 1982 and 2004, are frequently accused of being impatient. As a result, the "generation now" label is often bandied about, which in my opinion, is an unfair association to make.
The young adults are waiting to find work, waiting to get out of debt, waiting to afford housing, waiting to have kids, waiting to get married, you get the idea,
so it's not unreasonable to expect that from time to time they may want something right now.
However, there is a huge difference between being a little impatient and being the kind of selfish, self-indulgent, monsters that millennials are often painted.
This is not the snap of a parent who is an impatient monster; this is a mom who is finding it amusing that their child is so anxious that they are sitting in front of the oven, fork poised and bawling their eyes out because it is not ready RIGHT NOW.
In turn, this is not the behavior of the spoiled horror story child of a millennial, this is the normal behavior of a child who is learning life lessons such as "sometimes you have to wait for what you want" and " the world runs on its own timetable, not around you."
3 Simple Pleasures
Adulthood is no walk in the park for anyone, and we all think we had it worse than our parents before us but in the case of generation Y, they may actually be correct. Generation X brought down the Berlin Wall, millennials have to live with the new, very real threat of nuclear war. We had Roe Vs. Wade they have a slow and steady erosion of abortion rights with access to services becoming more and more difficult the further down the socio-economic ladder you go.
Thanks to social media they have other peoples success, or apparent success shoved down their throat every day, and they have the highest ever occurrence of depression and anxiety.
The upside of this, and yes, there is an upside, is that millennials are simple creatures that appreciate the simple pleasures in life. Moms who are under so much constant pressure can enjoy an hour to themselves like no other parents before. Who else might snap a photo of themselves in Target with a drink from Starbucks because they are enjoying their time away from the kids? This demonstrates a level of thankfulness for the little things with which millennials are rarely credited.
2 Just Do You Honey
There was a time when you would worry about your child if they did not "fit in" with all of the other kids at school. Generation X-ers were taught not to stand out too much from the crowd unless it was for something that society would see as positive like success in sports. These kids grew up and raised their children to be less competitive in general but still had fairly conformist views of what was right an wrong socially.
Generation Y has taken this several steps further and is less worried about their children fitting into society and more concerned with having society adjust to their children. There was a time when a child who wanted his face painted as a traffic light would likely have been told to "not be silly" and be more or less forced into choosing something seen as more appropriate by their parents.
Boys should want to be superheroes or aggressive animals right? Instead of perpetuating this myth of being a "real boy" or a "little man" this millennial mom embraced her son's creativity and celebrated it with the world. Look how pleased with himself he is. This is what we should all be aspiring to.
1 Millennials Just Want To Have Fun
The accusation of immaturity is often levied at millennials, but there is a difference between being immature and knowing how to have a childlike joy in the world. This difference of approach colors everything that the new generation of parents do and this snap is a fabulous example of how parents today manage to embrace their inner child, not crush it under the heel of your shoe.
Who else would have thought of defending the upper floor of the house from the attention of their feline housemates with dinosaurs, not my mom or dad, and probably not yours either? In years gone by the cat would have been unceremoniously thrown out of the house or restricted to one room, but where's the fun in that?
When you can't afford to go out anymore because your childcare eats up any income that might have been possible you take your fun where you can get it. It is also a fantastic way to show your own children how to deal with problems with positively and with good humor instead of turning every little thing into a world-class disaster. I know I'd rather have a parent who stalked the cat with dinosaurs than one who locked it out in the garden.
References: mashable.com, goldmansachs.com, NYTimes.com, BBC.co.uk
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