On Being A Millennial & A Mom
I was with a group this weekend when someone asked over lunch, "What's up with this entitled generation?" And then around the table, everyone added their points of view. "Millennial" (aka Gen Y) has become a loaded word with older generations, often associated with stereotypes like, "materialistic, entitled, lazy, selfish, arrogant and narcissistic [GenPop]." Even people born just a year or two before the 1981 entry, can feel at best, skeptical and curious, and at worst, scornful. And then there's the camp I fall in, born in the early 80s, skirting between neutrality and a bit of pride and defensiveness around this generation.
Google "Why everyone hates millennials" and you'll get all the smarties like Forbes and Inc. and Odyssey with salient hypotheses. The most basic being the Odyssey conclusion that we're just in a cycle where the previous generation is hypercritical of the next and the only difference this time around is that the Internet and social media exist as a bridge and a loudspeaker to make the Gen X criticisms heard louder and the Millennial brand more pronounced.
I noticed much of the discussion around Millennials is about them in the workplace. But what about as mothers? According to recent data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the pool of Millennial mothers has grown to over 16 million. Pew Research comparing Gen Y to Gen X and Baby Boomers shows that while we're waiting a bit longer to have children versus previous generations, we, more so than any previous generation, say that being a parent is extremely important to our identity and describe it as rewarding and enjoyable.
More research on Millennial mothers from BabyCenter, WorkingMother and Time supports a view that this cohort of women truly love their role as mothers and are proud to embrace that identity. BabyCenter reports a desire among Gen Y mothers to connect around our children - online and in real life. Modern mothers are found to be more open minded and open to any style of parenting that works for the other. As for "our style", generally speaking, as opposed to the protective nature of Gen X parents dubbed as "helicopter parenting", Time describes Millennials as embracing a new technique called “’drone -parenting’— the parents still hover but they’re following and responding to their kids more than directing and scheduling them.”
Finally, all said and done about Millennials and the workplace, this is a generation that made "nerd culture mainstream" according to WorkingMother. This group is more tech savvy and entrepreneurial than before. While more mothers in this generation are opting to stay home for a period of time, close to 23.2% versus 16% of GenX, according to Entrepreneur more than half report wanting to start their own business. BabyCenter found that compared to Gen X moms, Millennial moms are 17% more likely to freelance, one in five have started a blog with substantial followers and 39% percent have used social media to sell items they’ve made (63% higher than Gen X moms).
I want to give the personal caveat that I actually think motherhood connects all women regardless of generation and I have some very close Gen X friends who I share a lot in common with as women and mothers. However, for all the critique of Gen Y specifically, this is a group of women who are positive, open-minded and creative in parenting and with their peers. Maybe motherhood will reverse the bad rap on Millennials.
Where do you fall in this dialog - are you apt to shy away from the label, "Millennial", do you not even think about it or do you identify with some of the qualities that make this generation special?
Featured Image via Reformation