Motherhood will very likely change your life. Motherhood means suddenly having to make space in your life for another human; one who depends on you completely. It means often putting your interests second to the interests of your baby, prioritizing their well-being over all else, and struggling with fear and self-doubt on how best to parent your child. In this century it can also mean competing with other moms on social media for validation, and to be the #bestmomever.
But does this have to mean turning your life upside down to accommodate this new life? In the past, it used to mean so. But Millennial women nowadays are finding that you don’t have to choose between being a mom and every other facet of your identity; mom is no longer a label that erases everything else.
Millennial moms are finding that they want to, and can, balance a career and their hobbies with the role of being a mom. They turn to social media for tips and advice on how to care for their babies. While moms from previous generations had to rely on their own pool of friends and family for advice, millennial moms can now source advice from all over the globe on specific topics like sanitizing for baby, or the best baby stroller to buy.
But through all of these changes, millennial moms are, in essence, trying to do what every generation of moms before them were: the best for their child. But in a vastly different world, ‘the best’ has changed to mean different things.
What Is ‘The Best’ Now?
The 21st century has seen a rise in awareness of racism, racial profiling, sexism, and queerness among many other issues. This rising awareness, largely facilitated by the spread of social media, has led to millennials becoming more attuned to social justice issues and activism. This reflects in their world views, and most millennial parents are consciously raising their children to be inclusive and accepting of people with different backgrounds, experiences, and sexual orientations.
Millennial parents are also teaching their kids to form sustainable practices early on in their childhood in response to the concern surrounding global warming and environmental degradation. Millennials’ kids grow up with specially assigned recycling bins in their kitchens and eco-friendly brands in their closets. They learn to use reusable metal straws to drink milkshakes, and paper bags at the grocery store. Veganism is also a popular choice for millennial parents, and it’s not rare to see millennials’ kids growing up vegan.
But perhaps the biggest change in parenting style is the shift away from the authoritarian styles preferred by previous generations to the more pro-communication and democratic parenting style favored by millennials. This may be because millennials grew up with social media; a platform where they could freely express their views and have their voices heard. They are a generation that prizes self-expression and individuality. As such, it’s only natural that millennials would encourage these same qualities within their children. And how better to allow your children to express themselves, and encourage their individuality, than by asking them their opinions on matters such as household decisions?
In fact, 8 out of 10 millennial parents actually consider their child(ren) to be one of their best friends. This is mostly achieved through having heart-to-heart talks with them, where the parents try to speak to them more as a friend and less as an authority figure. Millennial parents are no longer burdened with being ‘perfect’ parents; that term has lost all meaning. Connected as they are to parenting styles from across the world, and with social communities on platforms such as Reddit and Twitter serving as forgiving spaces where moms can virtually congregate and share success and failure stories, millennials know that there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ parents. And they don’t try to present themselves as such to their children. Millennials prefer to talk to their kids about their own shortcomings and worries and be someone that their kids can turn to when they are, in turn, worried or scared.
Parenting is a tough job, not only because you want to do what’s best for your child but also because you fear doing something that will adversely affect your child. It’s made even tougher when there is no consensus on what’s ‘best’ for children. Some of these differences can be attributed to the different social and cultural circumstances that parents from different generations face: for example, child safety on the internet was never as big a concern for boomer parents as it is for millennial parents. Such changes will necessitate a different approach to parenting to better protect children from new kinds of threats. But that’s not to say that any parenting style is wrong; all parents are simply trying to do the best they can with the information they have at the time.