During my first pregnancy, many of my sentences began with an all caps “I WILL NEVER…” followed by about a hundred different “nevers” running the gamut from never watching The Wiggles and never talking baby talk to all the various things I saw other clearly uninformed parents doing “wrong.”
Well, 12 years have passed, and my cheeks now flame with embarrassment when I remember my high-and-mighty attitude.
None of us really know what we’re doing, but seeing a different approach becomes our default method of determining what we perceive to be right and wrong. Basically, when others choose differently than we would, we—whether consciously or subconsciously—lump them in the “wrong” camp.
We give ourselves license to evolve and adapt how we parent, but we often forget to do that for others. And for the Gen X generation, our generation, it’s hard not to notice that the brunt of “you’re doing it wrong” and “how dare they” falls heavily on the shoulders of millennial moms. Why?
I fall squarely into the Generation X. If I remember correctly, and I think I do, we Gen Xers were the slackers, the aimless, the entitled—a hopeless, brooding generation who stood for nothing and cared about hardly anything. It wasn’t so long ago that we were written off as plaid-flannel-wearing, slouch-shouldered, insolent twits. Can we really not see the attack on millennials for what it is—a predictable and cyclic resentment of youth?
The stereotype of designer lives and a “what’s in it for me?” mentality is really no different than any up-and-coming generation. Millennials have come of age under a microscope in the era of the internet, Apple, personal brands, and cause activism. Why wouldn’t they then pursue lives that are streamlined with beautiful design and purpose and supportive of their unique viewpoints?
I personally am not into the super sparse home design or wardrobe capsules that millennials seem to love so much, but a generation is more than its trends (refer back to my plaid flannel sentence, though, full disclosure: I’m wearing a plaid shirt, and I have a Nirvana song stuck in my head on repeat as I type this).
It’s impossible to gauge the merit of an entire generation’s parenting style by the snapshots we get at the playground or in blog entries. Millennials are accused of expecting everything be handed to them, but rarely are they given credit for their advocacy for the environment, for their general awareness of politics and social issues, or for the many resourceful and brilliant ways they use the internet and social media. They are different than us, but it does not mean they are less-than.
In the United States, there are nearly 11 million households with millennial parents, and about 1 in 5 millennial women are parents. They are, despite accusations of being lazy and entitled, the most widely educated generation, but because they have emerged with their degrees in a post-recession world, there aren’t jobs available as there were in the past for graduating generations.
The time millennials spend online which, if I am being honest, is no more than I do, does not solely consist of selfie-taking and reading juicy, clickbait headlines. They are seeking information, writing reviews, and researching the subjects that have meaning to their lives. In other words, they are using the internet just like the rest of us do—only with more agility and know-how.
I loathed being called a Gen Xer because I’d spent my whole life being told not to stereotype people only to have the people who’d taught me that wave a dismissive hand and say, “Oh, that’s just a Gen X thing.” “Millennial” is a buzzword, one that society seems to love heaping scorn upon, almost as much as they like attacking moms for how they parent, what they eat, whether they have sex or don’t have sex, how they wear their clothes, what size they are, or how they choose to feed their family.
If I didn’t know millennial moms, I might say that being one would kind of suck, considering the criticism they endure. But the thing I’ve learned from the women of the millennial generation is that they are so much more than a title. They are fully realized people with sharp minds and beautiful ambitions for themselves, the people they love, and their world.
And it might just be time to cut them a little slack.