5 Realities of Being a 'Parennial' (That's a Millennial Parent ICYMI)

Feb 26, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. ET
Image: Pexels

By Annamarie Houlis

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 a 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 — about 8 in 10 U.S. births in 2015.

While it's true that these so-called "parennials" waited longer than previous generations to have kids, they still made it a priority in their lives. In fact, more of today's women are starting families than women were in 2008; today's women are simply waiting longer to have babies because of career security and financial reasons according to a new analysis of U.S. census data from the Pew Research Center and Healthline’s State of Fertility Report 2017. That said, millennial women rated "being a good parent" as a top priority in a 2010 Pew Research Center survey. Some 52 percent of millennial women said that parenting was actually one of the most important goals in their lives — surpassing the goal of 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 millennial women are confident in their abilities to care for children — even more so than previous generations were. Plus, they tend to have more fun with parenting and find it more rewarding than older generations did.

So, what is it like to be a parennial? We asked a few.

More: If Companies Are Smart, They'll Offer This to Millennials

1. You get outside

"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. You're more discerning than your parents — or your kids

"My kids are part of Generation Uber, and they expect that if we need something, we can just order it up," says Erin Goodnow, cofounder 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 asked for gloves last August because her friend had gloves, and I said 'maybe in a while,' and she asked why I didn'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... I wouldn't give up quality time for more money."

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3. You're 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 playtime, 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 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. You have a ton of tech — & try to ignore it anyway

"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 day care 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."

More: 6 Skills Every New Mom Should Claim on Her Résumé

5. You take all advice 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. "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."

Originally published onFairygodboss.

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