Gender Neutral: Are Millennials Debunking Stereotypical Family Roles?

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

When it comes to the Millennial generation, there are more than enough stereotypes to go around. From the cold brew-sipping hipster to the slacker avoiding reality and rent by posting up in mom and dad’s basement, there is a particular view that has become mainstream as it relates to these consumers. Not included in this view is the fact that Millennials are the largest generation of parents in the market today. And, as parents, Millennials are debunking these stereotypes.

By taking on the role of parent, gone go the descriptors of “lazy,” “selfish,” and “entitled.” Millennials themselves are no longer vying to be the center of attention or thinking me-first. Rather, parenthood becomes a significant component of their identities and evolves the way they interact with the world. According to Pew, more than half of Millennials say being a good parent is one of the most important things in their lives (nearly double the percentage points of those who said the same about marriage).

But it’s not just the market’s stereotypes for their generation that Millennials are disproving. They are also evolving the stereotypical and traditional household roles of the family. Why should mom be the one to stay at home and forgo a career to raise kids? Why should dad be the breadwinner? Who’s to say that the household even has to have one mom and one dad — what about single parents or same-sex parents or tri-parenting (defined by Iconoculture as granting parental status to three adults rather than two)?

When it comes to Millennial moms:

  • They are more educated than ever before
  • The majority are in the labor force and more are serving as their family’s sole or primary breadwinner (40%)
  • Being a parent is “very” or “extremely” important to their identities
  • Work-family balance tends to be a struggle
  • They are facing the thought that they must “do it all”, with 80% claiming it’s necessary to be the “perfect” mom

When it comes to Millennial dads:

  • They are more involved in childcare than their predecessors, with 48% preferring to be home with their children
  • The number of stay-at-home dads has tripled in the past decade
  • Even when spending more time at home, they continue to feel like they are still not doing enough for their kids
  • It’s less common for dads to provide the main source of family income across household structures
  • They are just as likely to believe parenting is “extremely” important to their identities as moms
  • Work-family balance is a challenge, with 48% of fathers claiming that it is very to somewhat difficult

When it comes to the modern household:

  • Two-parent households are declining as divorce, remarriage and cohabitation rates are rising
  • There are approximately 12 million single parent families, with 80% headed by single moms
  • 40% of babies are born to moms who are single or living with a nonmarital partner
  • 1 in 6 kids are part of a blended family
  • 6 million+ children have an LGBTQ parent
  • 39% of same-sex couples with kids are non-white, as are half of their children
  • 12 U.S. states have decided that children can legally have more than two parents (although the full extent of this legality varies by state)

In reality, there is no longer a single dominant family structure for parents today. One thing that has remained constant for modern parents, however, is their desire to be the best parent they can be. This, more than anything else, should be what brand marketers focus on as they aim to reach these consumers – not outdated stereotypes.

For more information on reaching this segment of consumers, visit our Millennial Parenthood Brief.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.