Recently, moms everywhere learned that mom jeans and middle hair parts had replaced skinny jeans and side hair parts. Trends change with each new generation that decides to do something a little (or a lot) different. And just like modern clothes, music, and decor, parenting trends also have a new vibe.
Parenting has become more of an education than an intuition. Our new generation has developed new ways to celebrate, approach, and analyze parenting. Our parents may see these changes as a trend, whereas we may see it as a more conducive way to parent. Regardless of how each generation feels about today’s parenting trends, we must approach each school of thought with compassion and grace. While the Boomer generation may not understand what the millennial generation is up to when it comes to parenting, the bottom line is that all of us are doing what we believe is best for our kiddos.
Parenting Over Generations
Any parent can see that parenting trends tend to change over the generations. The ways your grandparents parented are unlikely to be the ways we parent. And the ways we raise our children will likely change when our kids have their babies. Change, especially in parenting trends, is inevitable.1
The Boomer generation is made up of individuals born between 1946 and 1964. Their name reflects the increased birth rate that happened during their era. This generation lived through the 1960s counterculture of “free love” and sowing their wild oats. They survived the Vietnam War and started the Civil Rights Movement. They also raised their children to want to go to college and make the best all-American life for themselves. Boomers tend to adhere to traditional family structures and gender roles.
Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. They are the children who grew up with the internet and cell phones being a constant and normal presence. They have witnessed and embraced the rise of social media, and many actively wait to get married and have children, focusing first on their careers. Millennial parents are more confident in their parenting abilities but more likely to struggle financially. Millennials are also more open to non-traditional families and parenting styles.2
Each generation has approached parenting differently through its own experiences, struggles, and belief systems. Whether one way is better than another is always the argument. But each generation views their parenting style as the “right” one. And this viewpoint can often cause conflict between grandparents and parents of little ones today.3
Boomers vs. Millennials: Parenting Trends
Here are 10 common parenting trends with the Millennial generation of parents that have Boomers shaking their heads in wonder and confusion.
In a world where everything is social, posting your child’s every milestone on the internet has become a hot trend. From their first steps and bad moments to bathtime joys and slumber photos—you name it, Millennial parents have posted it. Then some parents share with true love, bringing awareness to specific baby-centric topics and wanting their friends and family near and far to see it all in real-time.
This is vastly different from our parents, who used a camcorder to record life milestones. Some may say it’s too much or not considerate of the child’s future feelings. Others caution about the safety of some photo content regarding your children. This parenting trend may be too instant and oversharing for the Boomer generation, but some have embraced it. Many grandparents appreciate seeing their grandchildren play a baseball game or take their first steps in real time. In that way, it is a step up from relying on a camcorder and getting a delayed reaction.
Gender Reveal Parties
This has become such a trend over the last decade. It started with blue or pink cake fillings, glitter cannons, and exploding golf balls. For Millennial parents, it is considered a fun way to celebrate the gender of their baby with family and friends at the beginning of their baby’s journey.
This is a hard concept for our Boomer parents to understand in a world of oversharing. The number of celebrations that have been “created” can seem absurd. “Where is the joy in the unknown?” they might ask. This may be a trend that only this generation will understand.
Pre- and Postpartum Health
It used to be doctors monitored a mother’s health very closely during the nine months of pregnancy, but their health pre- and post-baby was left by the wayside. This new trend of enhancing and helping moms’ mental and physical health before and after the baby has taken off! You can find prenatal yoga/postpartum yoga, therapy sessions, and support throughout whichever stage of motherhood you find yourself in.4
When women became mothers years ago, some fathers would only show up for birth and then return to work. The idea of paternity leave was not even a fleeting thought. There was this idea that this was a mother’s job, and we didn’t discuss postpartum health or the mental strain it had. This new world of care for mothers is remarkable and, hopefully, a trend that Boomers understand and value.
If you have been a new parent and dealt with sleepless nights and pure exhaustion, you will do anything to get a solid night’s sleep. The trend of sleep training has become a necessity in early parenthood. Sleep training teaches your baby how to self-soothe and put themselves to sleep without assistance from their parents. The sleep and safe sleep methods for babies have changed drastically over the decades, leaving our grandparents to wonder how to lay a baby down safely and navigate the idea of a sleep sack instead of a blanket.5
Previous generations may not understand the need for all the accessories these days that come with getting a baby to sleep. Yet, the environment in which our children sleep is vastly different. So with that change came some adaptations. They may disagree, but learning to utilize all these tools is essential. That way, when grandma and grandpa have a sleepover, they can mimic the same safe and good sleep practices you have tirelessly worked for.
A top trend to hit the parenting scene is the idea of sustainability. You may see more ads for eco-friendly baby toys and products; even major brands have shifted their focus and products to more sustainable materials. It makes a lot of sense to introduce our children to the purest forms of materials at such a young age.
This trend is far from the lead-painted and downright dangerous toys our parents used.6 Environmentally-conscious products were not available back then. Now that they are, creating pure toys, food, and clothing for our children has been embraced by all generations.
Virtual Parenting Support
Millennial parents turn to Google, parenting resources, or other online tools for parenting advice and support. Telehealth and virtual parenting support have considerably impacted the parenting scene.7 For Millennial parents, joining a community, learning a new skill set, sharing your struggles, and feeling that sense of support and guidance, all at your kitchen table and only dressed from the waist up, is perfection!
The Boomer generation did not have this modern luxury. Many may also believe online support can’t replace genuine friendships and community like in the “good old days.” While that belief may have merit, thanks to the recent pandemic, the Boomer generation has come to appreciate virtual support a little more. It’s harder to deny the convenience and ease of virtual support and learning.
Intentional and Online Learning
Virtual learning became necessary in 2020, but some have decided it is here to stay. The American Federation for Children polled families and found that 40% of families are more likely to homeschool or virtual school after the pandemic.8 The poll also found that 64% support school choice, and 69% support the federal Education Freedom Scholarships proposal. This idea has led to parents being more open to screen time if it is intentional, as opposed to past views of negativity regarding childhood and screen time.
Some may not realize it, but grandparents monitored many children who had to conduct virtual learning. Their parents still had to work, leaving Boomers in charge of virtual support. They were the glue, sometimes holding the combination of working parents and virtual learning together. From these experiences, many Boomers learned about the formerly foreign idea and embraced it.
Parenting Style Definitions
Millennial parents seem to need to define what kind of parents they are. This is an idea that previous generations may not understand. We are all parents, they say. What is the difference?
But for many Millennial parents, labeling how they parent is helpful. Are you a gentle parent, mindful parent, or attachment-style parent? New generations have found this systematic way of approaching parenting an easier, more thoughtful way to approach the new role of parenting. This may seem like overthinking parenting to our parent’s generation, but our parenting worlds are so different. With about half of American households having two working parents, creating an organized way of parenting helps Millennials keep that family structure in place.9
Being a Little Extra
Growing up in the 1980s, you probably believed that Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and a few other magical characters came to visit at various times in your early childhood. Millennial parents have taken this to another level. There is Elf on the Shelf, a very successful Tooth Fairy, Pinterest-worthy birthday parties, and stuffed-to-the-brim “love baskets” for Valentine’s Day, to name a few.
Many Boomer grandparents may feel this excess is a bit over the top, while others may feel it is celebrating life to its fullest. Some grandparents have even jumped on board! It is just another excuse for them to spoil their little loves. And who can blame them?
There is a trend that there be no clear winners anymore. Everyone who participates is a winner. Studies have shown that empathy is lost these days with our children. Citing the rise in technology and other environmental factors during the early years of development, children have difficulty understanding and exhibiting empathy. Millennial parents trying to build a sense of fairness for their children started the idea of everyone winning. But this research seems to indicate the consequences of that mindset may not be a good idea after all.10
For Boomers, this “everyone wins” mindset is hard to wrap their heads around. They learned to work hard for their accomplishments and only be recognized if they achieved something. A trophy-for-everyone mentality is not a concept most Boomers will understand or appreciate.
Okay, this one is kinda funny because it’s true. In a recent survey out of Australia, one in five grandparents admits they hate the names their Millennial kids gave their grandkids!11 Many Millennial parents choose unique, cultural, or sometimes odd names for their babies, much to their Boomer parents’ bewilderment (and sometimes despair). And who can blame the Boomers, with classic names like Grace, Robert, Catherine, or Charles? Naming a child something they’ve never heard of and perhaps can’t even pronounce takes some time to get used to.
While it may be understandable that Boomers dislike or disapprove of unique baby names, the truth is that it’s not their choice, and they should try to respect the choice of the Millennial parents raising the uniquely named child. After all, having a “weird” name should not affect how much a grandparent will love that baby!
While these new parenting trends may appeal to the Millennial generation, their Boomer parents may feel otherwise. Many of these parenting trends can seem different and perhaps unsafe to them. Different is a fair way to describe them. But just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong. Parenting styles change based on the needs and experiences of each generation. We can not raise our children the way our parents raised us, simply because that world no longer exists. And one day, our children will make us scratch our heads in confusion as they explain to us the latest parenting trends of their generation. It is a cycle not likely to end anytime soon, but compassion and respect for each other will help make the transition much smoother for Millennials and Boomers!