Millennial Parents Are Changing How We Raise Healthy Children
Millennials have flown the coup and are raising their own kids in an uber health-conscious world that constantly shifts its gears on what makes healthy children and what doesn’t. As the most diverse and largest demographic born in the info-tech age, millennials have taken the workforce by storm, and now, they’re bringing mini-millennials into the world — or so Gen X and baby boomers fear.
Millennials have gotten flack for being tech-crazed and narcissistic, but as parents, they are fine-tuning what it means to be a parent of a healthy child and a good example as an individual achieving their dreams and making the world a better place. Raised in an uncertain post 9/11, global recession climate, millennials are questioning traditional techniques as society preaches child-rearing norms and are changing the parenting game for the better.
Well-Rounded, Healthy Children
The fact is that millennials are raising well-rounded children that are healthy and secure in who they are, with a reasonable, beneficial relationship to technology and the real world. Take a look at how this is happening:
Self-Reliant Millennial Parents
Older millennials will remember being left to their own devices, riding bikes down the street with their kid posse a la “Strange Things” style. Younger millennials will be familiar with the helicopter style of parenting many of them were raised with in the nineties.
Everyone has a side or a “right” way of parenting, but millennials are casting away this one-size style of parenting by taking a more individualized route to child-rearing and family life. Self-reliant millennials are raising well-rounded kids.
Raising Kids With Tech
When you grew up, was the T.V. your babysitter? Many judge millennial parents for using a tablet or smartphone to babysit their kids.
Social media and the internet carry a litany of possibilities for positive and negative influences for both adults and children. Millennials grew up with old school video games, VHS and corded telephones — and Nokia cell phones were just coming available for students in college and high school. They remember dial-up internet and their moms typing letters on the word processor. They remember the importance of not talking to strangers on AIM (AOL’s instant messenger) and how to ask for help when lost in the mall.
As their parents navigated increasing technology, now millennials are faced with raising kids in a world filled with technology and whether that’s healthy or not for a child’s upbringing. How much tech is too much? How much exposure places their kids at adverse risk due to predators or other concerns?
Millennials remember and are using technology to stay connected with family members as they show their kids the world with the proper privacy settings in place.
Most millennials have found the sweet spot with technology, recognizing how tech can optimize their lives and add in more time to spend with their kids. Millennial parents use apps to meal plan and get their groceries delivered, for example. They might also use that same technology to research primitive camping options, but still, they make it out in nature to show the kids how to rough it and be self-reliant. Millennials are setting the right pace for when and how to use technology in a balanced way to raise healthy children.
Cultivating Strong Independence and Autonomy
With parents posting everything online, from ultrasounds to high school graduation, is there any room for a child to develop their autonomy when the world “knows” them? Yes, there is.
The effects of parental online sharing of their little one’s childhood are still being studied, but the children of millennials will develop both online and offline, public and private autonomous identities. The fact is that social sharing is now a norm, but as millennials age, they will have more to keep them away from “instant sharing,” such as childrearing and career growth. They will bring in an age of openness and connection.
Both introvert and extrovert personalities are recognized as strong and valuable in the world, and how these children and teens interact online and offline reflect their upbringing in positive ways. For example, young people are protesting unfair and outdated dress codes in school that repress women, just like the Millennial Mom is standing up for herself at work, rather than going along with the ye olde adage of “sucking it up and moving on.”
The Importance of Asking Questions
What’s right, and what’s wrong for you, your child and your family? What’s healthy? These questions haunt every family, but millennial parents are stressing the importance of asking questions. While older generations may call that whiny, every millennial’s son or daughter knows that being a “snowflake” is a pretty special and powerful thing thanks to Elsa.
Bye-bye helicopter parenting, and hello to a more responsive and relaxed childrearing approach intermarrying the distant and way-too-close styles in a healthy, individual way. For example, millennial parents recognize that unstructured playtime provides space for autonomous growth and learning, while being close enough for their kids to feel safe and secure.
As of 2014, 59 percent of millennials were single or waiting to have children, while 27 percent of millennials were recorded as married, compared to 62 percent of Gen Xers and 65 percent of baby boomers. Developing your identity, discovering yourself and finding out what you need and don’t need are not bad things. In turn, millennial parents are not pushing their lack of undeveloped dreams or unrealistic fears onto their children. Millennials are finding what works for them and helping their children do the same, by asking questions and going out to find the answers.
Views on health change every generation
Millennial parents are changing the way healthy children are raised. In a world where the definition of “healthy” constantly changes, that’s not an easy thing to do, especially facing today’s societal pressures and criticisms.
Instead of keeping their heads down, millennial parents are bucking up, asking questions and daring to go against what doesn’t work for them on an individual level, on professional paths and in family life to make the world a better place for their kids.
Jennifer Landis is a millennial mom, wife, and is crazy passionate about health and wellness. She writes about it on her blog, Mindfulness Mama. She loves a good cup of tea and enjoys spending her free time running, doing yoga, and watching Doctor Who.