Millennials have always rewritten traditional routes to adulthood, and they're no different in their approach to parenthood. When asked to choose which they value more highly, being a good parent or having a lasting marriage, 61 percent of respondents chose being a good parent.
When asked whether they value home ownership or traveling and having family experiences, experiences won out with 56 percent of our cohort. One respondent even noted, amusingly: "We're not goddamn hoarders. We prefer experiences to belongings."
They choose to be parents, and love the job
Millennial dads are present and proud
Baby boomers are known for being the first generation with ready access to birth control, resulting in one very meaningful shift in parenting: most children born to this generation were planned, and families generally had enough resources to nurture and support them.
Millennial moms and dads don't just want to be parents; they are ready to be parents.
This trend continues into the millennial generation but with another interesting twist: fertility treatments are improving and reaching the mainstream, allowing young adults to defer parenthood longer than they might have before.
Millennial moms & dads don't just want to be parents; they are ready to be parents. As they wait longer to get married or have children, they have more time to experiment with their adult selves. They are more established and further into their careers. The end result is astounding and pronounced. When asked if they enjoy being parents, a whopping 99 percent of the respondents in our survey said yes.
In our survey, 40 percent of dads either were a stay-at-home parent currently, or had done it at some point in the past. Of those who don't stay home, the vast majority — 65 percent of them — said that they could see themselves doing the job someday.
Employers who want to attract millennial talent must catch up and provide the same parental benefits to men that they provide to women.
Socioeconomically, this shift is perhaps the most substantial listed here. Employers who want to attract millennial talent must catch up and provide the same parental benefits to men that they provide to women. Brands that market exclusively to moms will look increasingly outdated and regressive. Even support systems traditionally only available to women — such as mother's groups—must adapt to better support the parents of the future.
They overwhelmingly put their children first
Generationally, millennials are perhaps best known for their legendary individualism and fixation on self. They are more image-conscious and interested in health and fitness than previous generations. Employers struggle to manage them, at times bemoaning their entitled attitudes and desire for "participation trophies."
91 percent of respondents value "raising successful children" more highly than "living up to my full potential."
None of these traits showed in the data from our survey. We asked millennial parents to rank statements that mapped to one of the following categories: values children, values relationship, or values individual growth. Overwhelmingly, their responses indexed very highly for "values children", somewhere in the middle for "values relationship", and dead last for "values individual growth".
The data point that most throughly de-bunks the "special snowflake" millennial stereotype? 91 percent of respondents value "raising successful children" more highly than "living up to my full potential."
They are better informed than any generation of parents before them
This is the single biggest difference between millennial parents and those of other generations: the Internet. Fully 71 percent of millennial moms and dads turn to the Internet or social media for help with their parenting. According to Google Trends, interest in breastfeeding has doubled in the last 10 years. Interest in sleep training has tripled.
This is a generation of parents armed with unprecedented amounts of information about childrearing. And perhaps more importantly, a generation of parents who are eager to use that information to do a better job. Many of our respondents called this out when asked what they felt made their generation different.
- The internet gives us a more educated perspective on parenting.
- We have a larger breadth of knowledge to work from. Dr. Spock was their new research and we have the Internet and so much more early childhood education research to base our decisions on.
- We are much more knowledgeable about health and what children need to thrive in life.
- Ability to access knowledge and not rely on old wives tales, myths, outdated guidelines, etc.
- Tech plays a huge part from getting advice to ordering diapers. I love it.
Generation Alpha and beyond
The oldest members of Generation Alpha, the children of millennials, are just now entering Kindergarten. If it's true that millennial parents are poised to be the most successful in history, what can we expect from their children?
Here are a few things we can predict for Generation Alpha:
Based on the above traits, we may not only be looking at a generation of great caregivers, but a generation of great kids. It's a good reason to be positive, especially when facing the big social issues of the next few decades — issues like globalization, climate change, an aging population, and dwindling natural resources. That's a lot to worry about, but perhaps it's safe to hope that today's informed, enthusiastic millennial caregivers are in a good position to nurture the great minds of tomorrow.
Anne K. Halsall is the co-founder and CPO of Winnie, a technology network for local parents.
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This article originally appeared on Medium.