• Sandra B

10 Ways Millennial Parents Are Different

I’ve been thinking this week about how we all do as parents and, in particular, about how the younger generations are tackling this aspect of family life. Apparently, there are at least ten main ways that Millennials (23-38 years) are behaving differently as parents. Have you noticed the following happening with your family and friends?

Millennial mums and dads are relatively CONFIDENT in their ability to the job – a Pew survey found that 57% of millennial mums say they are doing a very good job as a parent, compared to 48% of Generation X (39-54 years) and 41% of Baby Boomers (55-73 years)

Millennials are WAITING LONGER to have kids – a mother's age at the birth of her first child has been steadily increasing for decades. In the UK in the 1950s, most women had the first child by the age of 22. Now it’s age 30 and rising steadily. The over-40s are the only age group with a growing pregnancy rate and teen pregnancies have fallen by more than half in just under 30 years.

Young parents LOOK ONLINE MORE than to their own parents and families for information and advice. As one expert told The New York Times, "Google is the new grandparent, the new neighbour and the new nanny."

And the majority of Millennials seem to be documenting their KID’s LIVES ON SOCIAL MEDIA, even giving them personal hashtags and profiles. Research in the USA found that just 19% of Millennial parents have never shared a photo of their kids on social media, compared to 30% of Gen X and 53% of Baby Boomers.

Millennial mums and dads are STRUGGLING MORE FINANCIALLY. More expensive childcare, the increasing cost of raising children and still paying off their own student loans are just some of the reasons. Significantly too though, the days of every new generation being better off than their parents and grandparents are largely gone, meaning that many Millennials are managing on tighter budgets.

Millennials are LESS likely to form 'TRADITIONAL families” - Pew research found that 46% of kids in 2016 were living in a household with two married parents in their first marriage - compared to 61% in 1980. With every decade, families are changing to become much more diverse, less nuclear and more blended.

Millennial men are more likely to take on HOUSEWORK and CHILDCARE than in the past — even though women still do most of it. A whopping 79% of working mums say they are responsible for doing the laundry and they are twice as likely as dads to take care of cooking. Plus, working mums still these days feel largely personally responsible for child care.

Millennials are more CREATIVE WITH NAMES and search for inspiration way beyond the baby books and family history. A study of 1,000 millennial parents, conducted by OnePoll was surprised to find that as many as one in five said a consideration for their baby's name was “available online domain names” and some even said they named their kids after IKEA furniture. “My son named after a rather trendy flatpack!” Really?

Another Millennial trend in the UK is for couples to COMBINE their SURNAMES for their children as a way of keeping mum’s maiden name in the family. It can also work well if she wants to keep using her maiden name for work. This stylish trend is called “meshing”. UK Deed Poll has said that meshing has changed from once being a rare novelty to being one of the main reasons couples give for changing their names.

There’s also signs that some Millennial men are RESISTING BAD DAD STEREOTYPES about “dad incompetence”. Research done for Disney found that, in 21st century shows and comedies, mums are often successfully juggling work tasks with parenting, while once-authoritarian dads are more likely played as fumbling and incompetent by comparison. While Baby Boomer fathers might have been quite amused (and quietly proud) to be considered useless at helping to run the child-filled home, it seems many Millennial dads are saying they want fairer recognition for being fully involved and capable.

In my lifetime and family, things have changed drastically. My dad refused to push a pram or do any housework as he didn’t find those things masculine. He would have been affronted to be seen with the hoover when there was a woman in the house. That sounds quite extraordinary today, but it wasn’t so long ago and certainly wasn’t unusual amongst men of his age in Scotland.

Tom and I have shared bringing the lads up much more fairly, with our version of “equally” being less about halving all of the tasks than dividing them according to our preferences and both pulling our weight. So, on a Sunday, he’s more likely to be cutting the grass and taking the wheelie bins up with help from the lads, while I cook dinner for all of us. It works for us and we've done our best to be fun loving, responsible and reliable parents - being firm only when absolutely necessary. This Baby Boomer thinks kids need boundaries but that's fruit for a whole other blog...

Childcare arrangements were always down to me, as is the case for many women still to this day. I’m therefore really chuffed to learn that many Millennial dads are bucking the trend and want to be involved in everything and to be good all rounders - more power to their elbow!

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© 2019 by Sandra Burke