Welcome to motherhood, millennials. According to a new report from the parenting website BabyCenter, the newest crop of moms, ages 18-32, are rejecting the helicopter parenting they experienced as children and are opting for a more relaxed approach.
This new generation of mamas reports having been raised with parents that were more protective, worried and enabling than the Gen Xers who precede them. Possibly as a result, they strive to be more fun, forgiving, relaxed and aspirational than those Xers.
The millennials have also, according to this report, embraced the freelance lifestyle that was forced upon them by entering the workforce during a recession. They are 17% more likely to do contract work than the Gen Xers, and more than half report wanting to start their own business. Considering how challenging it can be to hold down a full-time office job and be a present parent to young children, the millennial push to be their own bosses or have flexible work schedules is not misguided. And with projections of 40% of the workforce comprised of freelancers by 2020, seems like their dreams very well might come true.
So, sounds pretty rosy in millennial mama land, right?
There is a catch to all this chilled out parenting, a potentially ruinous breast milk storm brewing just over yonder.
While these moms say that their aim is to be relaxed, they also report placing more emphasis on being a good parent and less on having a successful marriage than Gen X. Over half of them say that being a good parent is “one of the most important things” in life, 24% more than Gen X, and only 30% feel the same about having a successful marriage.
Acha! So when they identified themselves as fun, forgiving and relaxed these moms weren’t talking about their attitude towards parenthood, but instead about their approach to parenting. The difference here is that a mom who is those things in relation to parenthood doesn’t worry so much about being a good parent, whereas a mom who is worried about these things in relation to parenting will be all preoccupied by whether she is fun, forgiving and relaxed enough. It’s now sounding more and more possible that mindfulness, which is basically what these millennials say they aspire to be, will indeed become the new impossible standard that parents are destined to fail at, as Hanna Rosin predicted over at Slate. Ladies, fun, forgiving and relaxed and are only fun, forgiving and relaxing when they aren’t viewed as aspirations.
Oh, and all those millennials looking for a flexible job? You want to look into a career as a marriage counselor, with all these parents more committed to their relationships with their kids than their relationships with their partners you will surely see a rise in demand in the next 5-10 years.
(As a borderline millennial/ Gen Xer, the author has no horse in this race.)
Photo Credit Thinkstock
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.
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