The exact definition of this demographic varies depending on the source. It is generally accepted that millennials were born somewhere between the 1980s and the 2000s. While millennial behaviors change depending on location, the economy and societal norms, there are some defining traits that are common amongst this generation, mainly the use and familiarity with digital technologies.
Research on millennial parents, mostly done in the U.S., reveals that this generation is raising its children differently to any generation before them. Here are some of the interesting ways in how they are different.
The millennial parent turns to Google and social media to get parenting related information, expert advice, to be exposed to new research and be inspired. They also share their experiences, pictures and recommendations on social media and blogs, and seek support from online communities. On the flip side, they also feel pressure to portray a “perfect” lifestyle because of what their peers post on social media.
Millennial parents are open-minded and breaking away from traditional norms. They challenge the traditional family dynamic by having more cross-cultural marriages, equally sharing responsibilities and being democratic at home, picking gender neutral toys, selecting unique baby names, being stay-at-home parents and experimenting with different parenting styles. They give their children more independence in and encourage them to foster a strong sense of their own identity.
Despite the trend of both parents choosing to work, millennial parents spend more time with their families, and especially their children. Millennial fathers in particular, are spending more time with their children (an average of 59 minutes a day) compared to the 1960s (an average of 16 minutes a day). Parents are also more involved in their children’s activities and are actively a part of many of them.
Compared to previous generations, millennials are waiting longer to have children. Reasons for this include focusing on education and careers, financial constraints, deciding to travel more, access to better birth control and being more conscious when it comes to family planning. According to research, the average age for first time parents is steadily rising.
Helicopter parenting is a parenting style that defined the previous generation of parents, and involves hovering over their children, directing what they do and controlling their schedules closely. Millennial parents are moving away from this style and taking a more relaxed and responsive approach, rather than directing them. They believe in the importance of unstructured play time and giving their children space for learning and developing on their own. They also find the values of open-mindedness, empathy and curiosity as most important when it comes to their children.