Then vs. Now: A Look at Millennial Parenting

I don’t know about you, but I would like to challenge our elder generation when they tell us how great life “used to be” and how horrible things are today… especially in regards to how we raise our children. There is nothing horrible about our generation. It’s just different. And since when is different a bad thing? So, parents and grandparents, we beg you... please stop mumbling “kids these days” under your breath, while shaking your head in disapproval. Kids these days are just fine, as will be the kids of tomorrow, and the following generation.

Let’s turn the tables. I’ll tell you why being a millennial mommy is ahh-mazing and why “the way it used to be” is no longer the gold standard.


Titles

They say: We used titles and treated elders with respect. 

I bring my son to school each morning and hear him (and the 20 other children) address the teacher exactly as she has asked to be addressed. Miss Michelle. Sir and ma’am have become largely outdated terms, and if you (yes, even you Grandma) are never saying them, why in the world would kids pick them up? We respect our parents and grandparents as much as previous generations, regardless of the titles we use to address them. You are our teachers, our confidants, our biggest supporters, and our number one fans. Calling you “Nana” rather than “ma’am” has everything to do with today’s societal norms and nothing to do with a decreased level of respect.

 

Sass

They say: Kids today have potty mouths. 

Yes, my son has mumbled a cuss word here and there. He once sighed and told me he was “f*cking tired.” Of course he got in trouble; really?  But I take full responsibility for his poor word choice. Years of bartending and talking like a sailor finally caught up with me. Besides, this was an exception, not an everyday occurrence. Regardless, please stop acting as though four-letter words are a new-age thing. We’ve all seen “A Christmas Story” (circa 1983) and heard the words that come out of little Ralphie’s mouth. Cussing is not just a modern language problem, so don’t even think about pinning it on our generation.

 

Talking Back

They say: We never questioned our parents, but did as we were told. 

We are raising a generation of children in which individuality and self-expression is important. What you may view as talking back, we view as allowing our child to have an opinion. The world is full of avenues in which to become successful through creative expression. Some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs did not simply comply with society, but forged their own paths and made their own rules. They were spontaneous and followed their passions. This is done through questioning! While we do not condone unnecessary sass, stifling our children by shutting them down the instant they disagree with us only teaches them that they do not have any ideas worth discussing.

We are raising a generation of kids in which individuality and self-expression are important.

 

Imagination

They say: We used our imagination rather than needing constant stimulation. 

The same cardboard box that entertained you as a child is still entertaining to my little tike. And my child’s imagination is not stifled because he is able to play games and flip through eBooks on an iPad. Imagination is built by reading, playing make-believe, and using the senses to create imaginary scenarios. Our children still do this! They just use different modes to do so. There are so many awesome apps and interactive games that stimulate and educate young children’s’ minds. And just because you see my son playing on my phone for ten minutes in the grocery store does not mean he doesn’t like to ride his bike, build forts, and reenact superhero battles when at home. Playing house is just as much fun to a Gen Z child as it was to a Baby Boomer. Some things never change. Please remember that just because you don’t fully understand something (like modern technology or smart phones), it doesn’t make them bad.

 

Overprotecting

They say: Parents today won’t even let their children play outside alone. 

Right! We wish we could let them run rampant in the yard. But when we do that, people frown at us for not paying enough attention to our kids. The fact is, this isn’t the 1960’s. The world is not the same place as it used to be. While running around the neighborhood until the street lights came on may be a thing of the past, skate parks and after school activities, kiddy gyms and play dates; these things are all the rage now. Yes, we may have to take on a more active role than our mother's mother, but isn't that a good thing? New activities to keep our kids busy and active crop up every single day. This just means millennial mommies must be able to adapt and keep up...which we do. Flawlessly.

 

Communication

They say: When we needed to talk, we would do it face to face. Kids these days just text or use social media. 

Again, why does it have to be bad because it’s different? If you had the ability to text someone rather than use the good ol’ fashioned party line, you probably would have too. But since you didn’t, you like to say that our newest generation is going to become mimes whose vocal chords don’t work. Give me a break. This is language evolution and is an entirely new way that people communicate with each other. Over 28 million (which is 15% of all social media users) are ages 55+. And I’m betting the only reason it isn’t higher is because of the learning curve technology has. Why do we love social media so much? Because it’s an amazing way to get in touch with old friends and to keep up with family members. Social media helps make a big world feel just a little bit smaller. Our kids won’t grow up to be mimes. Come watch them for a day and see how badly you want earmuffs by day’s end. Trust me.

Different does not mean bad.

 

Punishment

They say: We punished with spankings but parents these days are so passive. 

Spanking in public is so heavily frowned upon in today’s world that we are fearful to even go that route. Besides, each child is different. My spankings apparently do nothing to put the fear of God in my son, but time-out… boy that really makes him think twice. Again, just because you don’t see what goes on behind closed doors doesn’t mean you know. Time-out is not the only form of punishment. Nor is spanking. As millennial parents, we use a variety of methods to find what works best for our little spitfire. But thank you for your concern.

 

Saturday Mornings

They say: We spent the entire day playing outside, but today’s kids just watch TV. 

I don’t know about you all, but I spent Saturday mornings eating cereal in front of the television. My son does the same thing on Saturday afternoons… after he spends two hours running up and down a football field with his friends. I suppose now you’re going to launch into why so many "extracurricular sports are bad for your kids.” Do you see how much of a no-win situation you put us moms in? If we let them watch TV, we’re lazy. If we put them in sports, we’re working them too hard. Dammed if we do, dammed if we don’t. But just like former generations, our kids find a good mix of outdoor play and inside play. Some of that is screen time in front of the television, you’re totally right. Everything in moderation is A-ok with us because sometimes we need a break too.  

 

Kid’s Fashion

They say: Our kids used to be be covered up nicely and appropriately. Kids these days have skirts that are too short and jeans that are too tight. 

When did your generation become the know-it-all on fashion? In the 50’s, the hourglass silhouette was praised. The 70’s popularized the mini skirt and hot pants. The 80’s ushered in leggings, crop tops, and big hair. So now that it’s the turn of the century and kids are mixing it all together to pick and choose the styles they like best, it’s bad? Creative, self-expression is often done through clothing, and this trait is strong in Generations Y and Z. Rather than running from it, try embracing it. Besides, who can argue the fact that leggings on little girls are  anything short of adorable.


Perhaps the “way it used to be” is in need of a facelift. Today’s kids are certainly different than kids born and raised in the 60’s. How could they not be? Kids raised in the year 2050 are going to be entirely different than children raised in the early 2000’s. They will probably ride hoverboards and wear white spandex suits. Who knows! But different is not necessarily bad. Technology is not evil. Ease up on us millennial moms a little and focus on all the really cool ways we are parenting right.