Each of us fits into a certain “generation category” — most parents with children ages 18 and younger are either Generation X or Millennial. I have been thinking a lot about how we differ in our parenting styles — or maybe we really don’t.
In a Pew Research study, millennial women (those born between 1981 and 1996) accounted for 82 percent of U.S. births in 2016, which is 1.2 million moms.
In a 2017 New York Times article, “App Time for Nap Time: The Parennials Are Here,” Bruce Feiler shares how millennials parent differently from the previous generation. According to Feiler, millennials are “highly-informative” parents because of Google; however, they feel more overwhelmed by all the advice.
While there isn’t nearly enough research on Gen X (born between 1965 and 1980), we had to grow up with our kids on technology — and help our parents navigate their devices. The hardest challenge for each generation will be helping our kids safely use all these modern tools.
While millennials are ahead of the curve in many areas, such as technology, Generation X started the trend in bucking traditions.
According to Pew Research in 2019, Gen X women were the first to outpace men in terms of education, with a 3-percentage-point advantage over Gen X men in 2001.
Also, parenting in each new generation, moms and dads are beginning to change perceptions on how kids should be raised. Gen X parents expect each other to share child care responsibilities more than even our Boomer parents did. Millennials are taking it one step further.
A 2016 Boston College study, “The new millennial dad: understanding the paradox of today’s fathers,” says millennials have traditional parenting roles, however, what’s trending, especially with millennial fathers, they are striving to find a better work-family balance. In fact, 51 percent of dads said they would be willing to consider being a stay-at-home parent if their spouse made enough money to support the family.
These millennial fathers want to “have it all” just like millennial moms, the study says. “Fathers increasingly experience the challenge of integrating their work and family lives; they experience greater work-family conflict. Today, most men define being a good father more in terms of both active involvement with their children and meeting their family’s financial needs.”
However, regardless of generation, parents say having children is central to their identity, according to a 2015 Pew Research study. “Among Millennials, six-in-ten (60 percent) said that being a parent is extremely important to their overall identity and a similar share of Gen X parents said as much (58 percent).”
So what does this all mean?
While we all have challenges and advantages (I think parents, no matter the age, want to “have it all”), both generations are creating a path for future parents — our kids. We hope they will be more financially secure, have better work-family balance and be able to live their lives without many of the perceived hassles we went through.
So, I don’t think Gen X and Millennials differ too much. In fact, with 12 years of parenting under my belt, I still feel young.
Happy Father’s Day to dads of all generations!
This monthly column ” Editor’s Note” appeared in the June 2019 print issue of Northeast Ohio Parent magazine