While scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a viral post many friends shared. In the post a gray-haired man wearing a gray suit and a smug smile appeared under the headline, “Physician Tells Parents — ‘You’re doing it all wrong.'”
I see this formula all the time. It’s not always from a physician; it may be a psychologist, another professional, or a veteran parent from the baby boomer generation. But the message is always the same: Millennial parents are doing it wrong. As a millennial parent, if I read one more headline or meme about how I’m doing it wrong, I might just shit a chicken.
There are many ways to do parenting all wrong. If you go to happy hour with the girls during your kid’s nap time far from the monitor’s range, that’s wrong. You put the diaper on the baby’s head and not his bum, that’s incorrect. Allow the baby to drink hot coffee before he’s potty trained — wrong. There’s a myriad of things that you can do as a parent that anyone with half a brain would recognize as being objectively and unequivocally wrong. That’s never what these accusations of wrongdoing are about.
Instead, it’s about how we’re parenting: how we speak to our kids, how we treat our kids, how we discipline, what we feed them, etc. We’re coddling them too much. We’re not being stern enough. We’re setting unattainable goals. We’re not giving them enough attention. We’re giving them too much attention. Whatever box we’re able to squeeze ourselves into is the wrong one.
Millennial parents are in desperate need of many things — livable wages, family leave, a solution to the student debt crisis, and sleep to name a few. The one thing we have an overwhelming abundance of is information. Baby boomers often scoff at millennials constantly gawking at their phones. There’s a good chance a modern mom staring at her phone is reading a new study and is now scolding herself for not taking fish oil during pregnancy to prevent asthma in her children.
We have thousands of parenting books available. New information and product recalls are available daily. We don’t even need to leave our homes to face judgment from fellow moms — we have online parenting groups for that. Although it’s valuable to have a wealth of information to make informed decisions, the weight of making so many decisions (and whether they’re the right ones) often feels crushing.
I would rather spend my few precious moments of free time listening to Caillou’s incessant whining than someone summarizing all the ways millennial parents are screwing up their kids.
Don’t get me wrong — I do appreciate insight from baby boomers with many more years of experience than myself. I know parents with grown children must have a better sense of what truly matters and what doesn’t. So I am listening and grasping the grain of truth that exists in all these “you’re doing it wrong” sentiments.
To some extent, I’m sure we are doing something very wrong, and it will make us cringe years from now. Just like we cringe when we see photos of those little death rockets baby boomers called car seats decades ago. Oh! And remember lawn darts? It’s truly a miracle Darwinism didn’t prevail and we’re all alive today to have these silly debates.
Maybe you believe we’re doing it all wrong. But, please, just let us. Most of us don’t know what the hell we’re doing most of the time. But we love our kids, and we’re trying to give them the best life we can. So, please, show us you have a little faith that we can do this. Or if that’s too much to ask, just cover your eyes and hope for the best like you did when Uncle Joe launched a lawn dart.