5 Realities of Being a Parennial (aka Millennial Parent)
We focus on experiences.
In 2017 Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997) made up 90 percent of all new parents. That's largely because, in 2015, more than 1 million Millennial women gave birth for the first time, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. The total number of U.S. Millennial women who have become mothers has officially risen to more than 16 million, which means that they made up about eight in 10 U.S. births in 2015.
While it's true that these so-called "parennials" had waited longer to have kids, they still had made it a priority in their lives. In fact, more women are starting families compared to 10 years ago, but they're waiting longer to have babies, according to a new analysis of U.S. Census Data from the Pew Research Center and Healthline’s State of Fertility Report 2017, because of career security and financial reasons. But Millennial women have rated being a good parent as a top priority in a 2010 Pew Research Center survey. Some 52 percent said that it was actually one of the most important goals in their lives, surpassing having a successful marriage, and 60 percent said that being a parent is extremely important to their overall identity, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey.
The research also shows that they're confident in their abilities to care for children—even more so than previous generations—and they have more fun with it and find it more rewarding than older generations as well.
So what is it like to be a parennial? We asked a few.
1. Being a parennial means being a role model.
"For me, and I'm sure for others in my generation, we remember what childhood was like before the internet and before it was normal to have high-def video games vying for our attention," says 28-year-old Ben Woods, owner and founder of Weathered Coalition, a men's boutique in Austin, Texas. "I know what it was like to play outside every day and to watch the sunset and to feel that bittersweet feeling that playtime was over and I had to go inside. That's what I want to offer my son. So we're being very intentional about how much we use screens in our home, not because technology is evil, but because we want to set an example for him. We want him to see that we're not entertainment addicts, and he doesn't have to be either. And we take him outside every day."
2. Being a parennial means having to be more discerning.
"My kids are part of Generation Uber, and they expect that if we need something, we can just order it up!" says Erin Goodnow, co-founder and CEO of Going Ivy, a college admissions consulting group. "Believe me, that was invaluable when we were going through a box of diapers a week. Then my daughter asks for gloves last August because her friend has gloves, and I say maybe in a while, and she asks why I don't just 'text it to my phone.' So as a parent, there are benefits and drawbacks to the conveniences we Millennials couldn't live without.
"Parents of previous generations really couldn't fulfill every wish their children had, and maybe I could (if money grew on trees) because I have access to everything at my fingertips. But I choose not to fulfill every wish they have. It is a judgment call sometimes. They are learning the virtue of patience in a different way, and while they will also grow up with more conveniences available to them, it will be my job to teach them what is worth working harder for. As a Millennial parent, experiences are worth more to me, and I want to expose my children to those experiences that will bring their lives value.
"My daughter and I do 'mommy-daughter days,' and my favorite one was a stroll around the mall where we discovered a crêpe shop. We shared a strawberry crepe with whipped cream and powdered sugar on top and talked about the time Daddy and I went to Paris and how she might go someday, where she'd like to travel to, why she likes her friends, her favorite things about her school and more. I wouldn't give up quality time for more money, and I will use money—in this case something like $8—to buy more experiences like that."
3. Being a parennial means being self-aware.
"I don’t know anyone else’s reality, but I make an attempt to know mine—my parenting styles are primarily a synthesis of learning from my parents’ mistakes and welcoming some ancient/modern ideas and techniques put forth by Dr. Harvey Karp in his Happiest _____ on the Block books," says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. "My wife and I knew we wanted to present our kids with as much freedom as possible, without being outright negligent or quasi-negligent. We knew we wanted to provide them with unstructured free play time, ideally outside, on a regular basis. We knew we wanted to pretend there was a tooth fairy, but not lie to them about things that matter. Parenting is a process of trial and error, and you learn things as you go along, regardless of how many books you’ve read, movies you’ve watched and advice you’ve gotten.
"For me, this means understanding, internalizing and constantly reminding myself that it is my kids’ job to push the very limits I try so hard to set, and to smash the rules I attempt to enforce. We both test and 'educate' one another all the time, but proper parenting helps it remain a test, a trial, a right step in the ongoing evolution—without it escalating into a battle. You’re both going to lose that confrontation.
"Happy parents to happy kids? Is such a thing possible? Yes, but the key is not to expect it all the time. It is not a goal, it is a perk. It is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. If happiness happens to land on your doorstep today, great! Embrace it, enjoy it, saturate yourself in it, lose yourself to its positivity and acknowledge its fleeting nature when it up and disappears. Self-aware parents, who understand they will make mistakes no matter what, are less prone to self-flagellation and also less prone to acting in a vengeful way towards their kids. Know your power, know your weapons and do what you can to keep them sheathed."
4. Being a parennial means having to ignore the tech on which so many Millennials rely.
"As the mother of a 2-year-old working full-time in digital marketing and PR, it's vital to make my career and parenthood work together—because both are 24/7," says Lisa Deliberato, 27. "Prioritizing quality time during the week with my daughter is key, so I try to keep my phone and laptop use to a minimum from the time I pick her up from daycare until she goes to bed. Finding an employer who is supportive of work-life balance is key.
"Having a kid has made us both more present. The glorious teeny-tiny baby phase is fleeting; first steps can be missed if you're checking your emails, and some of the things that come out of their mouths are comedic gold ... So pay attention (and write it down!).
"When it comes to advice, it's tough not to get caught up in scary news stories, the latest nutrition trends or sucked into the feeds of enviable mommy bloggers, but we've learned (in our tiny two years as parents) that if you do what feels right for you and your child, things generally work out OK."
5. Being a parennial means having to take everything with a grain of salt.
"Raising children in this day and age is hard," says Britnie Sims, a contributing writer for Oklahoma City Moms Blog, which shared some of Sims' words from a recent post with us. "It seems like us 'old' Millennial moms just can't win. We're bombarded with conflicting information, and our parenting choices are scrutinized. One-second judgmental snapshots are posted about our lives everywhere, which makes raising children in this day and age a little murky and complicated. Raising babies and 'mom-ing' children with the world of information and opinions at our fingertips is risky business. Read through a baby book, chat with your girlfriends or scroll through a forum about any given topic, and you will end up more confused on the subject than when you started."
Written by Fairygodboss for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.