There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it. –Chinese Proverb
Millennials have been loaded with negative stereotypes: lazy, entitled, or what seems to be the media favorite, narcissistic. A recent Time magazine article managed to fit all three adjectives into one title in the cover-story, “The Me Me Me Generation: Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” Ouch.
As Stephen Colbert jokingly says of millennials “[you are] so self-obsessed. Tweeting your Vines, hashtagging your Spotifys, and Snapchatting your YOLOS.” Our social media feeds are being filled with our favorite subjects: Me, Me, and Me. Of course all of this is tongue-in-cheek, as Colbert doesn’t buy into the thinly drawn caricature of the Millennial Generation. Colbert finishes his rant by adding, “Us Baby Boomers are very upset, because self-absorption is kinda our thing.”
So while this generation is still being analyzed (and criticized) what are some of the trends of the very first millennial parents?
The exact birth years of this generation are still in dispute, but the very oldest of millennials are anywhere from age 31-36. Even as the age of first-time parents is rising, and with the current US birth rate at a historic low, millennials are still accounting for 80% of births annually. And like every milestone millennials have reached thus far, they are ushering in new trends, from ultra-hip baby and toddler clothes, to changing the Social Security top 10 names (hello, Mia and Liam). So how do millennials’ seemingly narcissistic sensibilities show through not just their parenting styles, but presenting their children as well?
YOLO Fashionista-Babies: Personally I know many parents who opt for the Cost-Effective “they’re just kids” style for their kids. After all, hand-me-downs are usually only a couple years old. Plus, kids will ruin all their clothes, so why bother with a brand new wardrobe? They are so messy. But once in a while I find parents who adopt the YOLO “you only live once” philosophy for their child’s apparel: they will only be this age once so why not get the best of everything? And they are so cute! Touché.
Paparazzi Parenting: These parents fill their social media feeds with the dedication of the Paparazzi, or a celebrity stalker. It seems that there is no detail too insignificant to go unannounced. Junior tries his first jar of Sweet Potatoes baby food? Please, let us know! Of course many millennial parents are guilty of over-sharing at times. And with the great big world of social media, we are way beyond the days of showing off a few photos of your kids stowed away in your wallet.
Anne Geddes Inspired Portraits: About 20 years ago, ultra-creative portraits of kids seemed unnecessary, and maybe even out of reach for the average parent. Today many parents book portrait sessions by a professional photographer for their new arrival weeks before the due date. It’s also common for modern parents to continue artistic portraits throughout their kid’s childhood. It’s an interesting trend, and millennials may be rebelling against the Awkward Family Photos-worthy portraits of their own childhood.
Internet Meme Babies: Paraphrasing, an Internet Meme is defined as “an idea which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet.” Often I’ve seen parents add clever phrases to pictures they post of their kids. A picture may be posted of a toddler “reading” a book with a comment saying something like “Aiden for President 2016.” Until your kid learns to work Instagram themselves, apparently they’re a blank slate for your Internet meme creations.
Paying-It-Forward Parenting: The crazy obsession with a seemingly ordinary tiny human being may seem irrational, but the truth is millennial parents aren’t much different than any other parents. With all the apparent self-obsession of millennials, they seem to be quite gracious in stepping out of the limelight for the sake of their kids (or at least sharing it).
Millennials are just getting started on their parenting journey, and it will be interesting to see what new trends, and parenting philosophies they will create along the way. However parents choose to present their children, through creative portraits, super chic toddler apparel, or an endless stream of filtered Instagram photos, it’s all personal preference. After all, there is no official manual for parenthood. (Unless you know of one, then please let me know in the comments, or tweet me at @rachennial).
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