millennial mom and daughterMillennials may have a reputation for being self-centered, but when it comes to their kids, they’re anything but, says market researcher Amy Henry. Henry heads up the strategic insights department at Strottman International, a company leading the effort to understand millennial families and share that knowledge with top consumer brands. EQtainment’s founder Sofia Dickens recently talked with Henry to find out what millennials are really like as parents. Check out a few highlights here, then download the free Q Wunder app to hear the whole podcast.

 

SD: What’s the biggest myth about millennial parents?

 

AH: Millennial moms grew up getting trophies, and the assumption was that they would raise their kids the same way. But millennials told us, “Wait, we didn’t give ourselves trophies, our parents did. So was it millennials who cared about trophies, or the generation who raised us?” Millennials don’t want their children to be entitled or get the same bad rap they did. They want them to be raised with a better sense of their own competencies and capabilities.

 

Millennial parents tend to take a lot of photos of their kids, putting them in all these precious situations and then posting the pics. Aren’t they just transferring that “me me me” mentality to their kids?

 

We think it’s something different. We actually asked millennials, “Isn’t this about you showing off?” But they challenged us to think about it another way. Moms told us over and over, “My life really centers around my child now.” We heard something similar from Gen X moms, but millennial moms say it in a very different way. Their tone around it is grateful: “When it comes to being a mom, I’m all in.” When you’re trying to preserve those years you cherish, you capture them. So that sharing is not showing off, it’s based in truly delighting in your child.

We traditionally think of our role as parents as preparing our children for adulthood. But millennials seem to have a greater appreciation that childhood is something you can celebrate as it’s happening. That’s a lovely way to parent — it’s great for children to feel respected and that their lives matter today, not just 20 years in the future.

 

But if every day is meaningful and special, millennial moms are never off the hook. They can’t just relax and say “You kids play by the pool.” They feel they need to get into the pool themselves and enhance that everyday experience.

 

Yes, the downside is that it can be exhausting. If you’re cherishing every moment of childhood, it’s a lot of pressure to care about every moment, to be all in every moment. Many millennial moms and dads grew up in households where there were two working parents who missed out on a lot. As parents themselves, they vowed to have more energy to play in the backyard every day. But millennial moms and dads didn’t necessarily stop working. Maybe they are deliberate about how they choose their work when they have the privilege to do so or think creatively about ways to manage their time to have more of a work-life balance, but they’re often trying to fit in being present every day with a lot of other obligations.

 

Millennial parents seem to instinctively recognize that it’s important for kids to have some confidence but also to be aware of what they’re good at and what they’re not good at.

 

That’s right. Millennials get accused of giving their children the same “you’re great at everything” self-esteem message they got as kids. But that’s not what our research has found. In fact, millennials are really trying to instill in their kids an understanding of what they are and are not good at — and that’s self-efficacy. This is the generation that says, “My child may not be a great athlete in any other way, but they’re going to try out fencing — hey, fencing’s a cool sport!” So the number of activities has grown exponentially, but it’s not necessarily because millennial parents want their kids to be good at more things; it’s because they recognize that if you’ve got a whole bunch of different kids, you need a whole bunch of different ways to be good. In a way, it’s protective parenting, to arm your child with a clear sense of where they might excel and where they might be cheering on their friends. It’s paying attention to what’s special about your child.

This generation is the most diverse generation — and the one that most embraces diversity of all kinds. Knowing your strengths makes you a good member of a diverse community. There’s more room for you and it’s more natural that you’d notice things that make people special rather than things that make people different. One of the most important skills kids today learn is how to work in community and build on each other’s strengths and experiences.

 

Find out why millennial mamas are also the champions of the “epic parenting fail”: Download the free Q Wunder app, go to the Parents’ Corner and listen to the entire “Why Millennial Moms Don’t Want a Parenting Trophy” podcast.