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Millennial Parenting? Not For This Millennial

Photograph by Twenty20

According to Time magazine's recent feature article picking apart millennial parenting and all it's free-range kid raising, social media posting, selfie-taking and under-scheduled childhoods that are allegedly happening all around us, I learned something shocking: I am, in fact, a millennial parent.

Huh? Yes, I was born in the late 1970's—which, by Time's definition of social eras, makes me a millennial. (Score on feeling so young and hip!)

But then I read the article. Ugh. According to Time, millennials are described to be very much like self-centered hippies with smartphones. I suddenly found myself disappointed in all of us young, cool, hip millennials. I was embarrassed how other generations see us.

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The vanity. The laid-back know-it-all attitude. The allowing of toddlers to call the shots. The constant consulting of the Internet for ailments and answers that only serve to make a new mom panic even more. (You know how I feel about moms freaking out, folks...)

So it's on the record here and now: I don't feel like a millennial parent. And according to the black-and-white description of it, I don't want to be a millennial parent. (Although I am guilty of selfie-taking here and there... but that's mostly because I'm the only one around during the day to take any pictures of my girls and me. So there.)

Millennial parents are said to let their small children have authority—in a democratic household, regardless of who is what age—about what to watch on TV. Meanwhile, I frankly tell my children, "No, we're not watching that right now because it's time for the grown-ups to watch their shows, end of story."

Millennial parents are said to resist enrolling kids in activities for fear they'll be "overscheduled." Although I'm not a fan of burning the interests of small kids out before they turn five, let's just say our family schedule has surprisingly morphed into having some kind of scheduled activity every single day of the week. I mean, we've got to do something...

I might be a millennial on paper, but I'll be damned if I choose to parent like one in practice.

Millennial parents are notorious for posting constant pictures of their children on social media—from the womb, to each birthday party, to each (underscheduled) activity said child might be a part of. Every time I post a picture of my girls, I think about it over and over and question whether or not I should post it in the first place (and I'm a mom blogger, for heaven's sake.)

Contrary to how millennials are allegedly parenting in the exact opposite way our parents did (Time's articles cites this phenomenon as a backlash), I'm consciously trying to raise my kids in the exact same way that may parents raised me. I actually enjoyed my semi-helicoptered childhood, although us kids did get to roam our neighborhood on our own and walk to and from the bus stop and nearby store without parental supervision. As a child, I was not coddled ("handle it" was the quote at our house), I was not always right (us kids were second-class citizens, rightfully so, because we were kids), not constantly bragged about to others (yet I knew how proud my parents were of me, they just told me in private.) I understood it back then and I agree with it all now.

I might be a millennial on paper, but I'll be damned if I choose to parent like one in practice.

Learning how to respect others stems from learning to respect adults... even if that adult tells you that you can't watch your cartoons because it's time for adults to watch their shows.

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Learning to competently handle yourself for all of life's varied and sometimes-challenging situations takes practice and experience over time, a lifetime if you will... and the way to conquer that skill is to get involved in activities that surround you with all kinds of folks who might be different from you.

Learning humility stems from knowing that, although your parents love you with all their heart, they don't necessarily have to post hundreds of pictures of you for their friends to see and like for some kind of false validation... in other words, the world does not revolve around you.

Here's to 'non-millennial' millennial parenting. I know I'm not alone... I certainly hope I'm not alone.

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