10 ways millennial moms are changing the parenting landscape
These millennial moms don't let flimsy opinions or "mom-shaming" touch the core of their positive parenting styles. They aren't intimidated by violating the "rights and wrongs" of motherhood. They work every day to eliminate sexism, promote feminism and instill profound confidence in the next generation of young adults.
And their parenting prerogatives will inspire hope in parents of all ages. Here's how these moms are empowering their kids.
1. They teach boys to recognize the potential of women
It's one thing to raise your son to avoid sexist ideals, it's another to teach him to celebrate women of the past and encourage women of the future. That's just what mother and photographer Katrin Ballew instills in her son, Henry, daily.
"I want him to know that women can do just as much as men," explained Ballew. "I want to teach him about influential women in history, in science, in art and literature. I want him to grow up seeing these strong women alongside the men so that he will know this is how it's meant to be — that they are different but equal."
2. They raise children to admonish inequality
Teaching children to recognize injustices in society is the heart of raising future leaders. Ballew will surround her son with strong female role models so he understands powerful, accepted females as the societal norm; when a lack of acknowledgment for women exists, he'll perceive it as inequality.
"He will understand our struggle as women and how unusual it is that women are not highlighted for their victories more often," she said.
3. They are honest about inequalities their daughters may encounter
"When women are still making only 77 cents for a man’s dollar, I hope that she realizes that the satisfaction of achieving your own dreams is greater than simply the price tag put on your efforts," said Alannah Coley-Eisenmann.
She will also teach her daughter the importance of strength and perseverance in situations where gender inequality is seemingly winning.
"When it takes 55 women to accuse a man of a crime before an action is taken, I hope that she will be able to find the strength to speak her truths, even when no one is listening."
4. They hope their daughters will stand tall despite sexism
The reality is that sexism does exist, and the power to protect children from it eventually expires. Coley-Eisenmann will teach her daughter to remain courageous and fearless when in the face of sexism rather than succumbing to it.
"It is instilling a sense of confidence and self-worth and independence in every action, because you know that you can’t protect or shield them from outside influence forever," Coley-Eisenmann confessed. "It’s knowing that people are going to say awful, sexist things to her; it is knowing that she will be catcalled and harassed and told from a very young age that she can’t like certain things because she is a girl, and hoping against hope that you can build her up before others try to tear her down.
5. They teach their children to be who they are
Romina Fahl unconditionally refuses to push any gender-specific interests on her son, Gavin. "At this young age, all I can do is not care if something is for boys or girls," Fahl said.
"If he wants to play with dolls and get a kitchen set, he will get to. If he tells me he wants to do dance classes or gymnastics or baseball, I will facilitate his dreams. My job isn't to push a certain set of 'acceptable' interests onto my young child. My job is to nurture and accept him for who he is," she said.
6. They encourage cultural understanding
"Before we judge or condemn another human being for behaving differently than we would, I think it is important to stop and remember that we don't know what their circumstances are," asserted Fahl. "It's important to think about life from other perspectives all the time or else risk becoming closed-minded and judgmental."
And one action she always wants her son to do: ask questions.
"Being curious about the world and always asking questions will help Gavin gain a better understanding for other people and cultures as well as help him think critically."
7. They promote both strong female and male leads
One celebrated value many young parents want to teach their children is to view other people — regardless of gender — as complete equals.
"I encourage strong female and male leads," avowed Amanda Peterson, mother to two insanely precious toddlers. "My husband and I teach our sons that no matter who you are, you can achieve anything. I like to lead by example and show my boys that anyone can accomplish anything... my sons see how hard not only daddy works but how hard mommy works to achieve her dreams and career goals."
8. They provide the example of a supportive partner
Krystal Moran and her husband, Omar, not only cherish their rock-solid bond and adorableness-filled marriage, but they know it's more than that. The examples of their relationship and dynamic are memories their son will carry with him forever.
She applauds her husband for celebrating her as a woman every day, a benchmark she hopes Mark will strive for in his future relationships.
"In all of my endeavours, my husband has never once made me feel like I was incapable of doing what I set out to accomplish," Krystal confessed. "The example my husband is setting for our son is probably the most important and influential example of a man valuing, supporting and respecting a woman that Mark will ever see."
9. They teach the importance of healthy body image
With countless thigh gaps and washboard abs flooding Instagram and other social platforms, the danger of women comparing their bodies to other women's is only growing.
Emily Newland will teach her young daughter to never adopt one notoriously dangerous habit: comparison.
"There is always a new body type to long after. I don't want my daughter to get lost in the trap of comparison," Newland explained. "I want my daughter to know that her worth comes from more than how she looks."
More so, she'll encourage her daughter to lift other women up in moments of insecurity rather than be critical or competitive.
"I feel like if more women realized how worthy they are, without the constant need for the most likes, the comparison trap wouldn't be such an issue," she said. "We could be united, lifting each other up rather than comparing and tearing each other down."
10. They want their children to understand the vastness of love
The importance of teaching children about love is one of a parent's greatest responsibilities, and Newland wants her children to understand just how powerful it can be.
And more important, that everyone in the world is deserving of it.
"The most important value I want to teach my daughter is love," she said. "I believe that love can conquer anything. It can break barriers, and like I've told my husband, we shouldn't try to change people — we just need to love them."