The Evolution of Parenting Values: What Millennials Want to Instill in Their Kids

Posted by: Ilana Bodker

Millennial parents believe they parent their children differently than their own parents – the Baby Boomer generation – raised them. In fact, research shows they think they’re even better than their own moms and dads when it comes to parental responsibilities and what it takes to raise a child the right way. So, what gives?

Nearly half of millennial dads (45%) say they are more available as parents and just “more involved, open and hands-on with their kids,” and so do 30 percent of Millennial moms. More and more, we see what Demographic Intelligence president Sam Sturgeon called a “rejection of the doofus dad image.” Millennial dads have stepped up to be intentionally present, egalitarian fathers, even taking on stay-at-home provider roles. Hand-in-hand with this comes the movement of more mothers into the workforce and encompassing leadership roles outside of the home. This data supports the idea that, starting from a young age, Millennials want to instill an ideal of gender equality in their children.

With this shift in stereotypical gender roles comes additional pressure upon parents to do it all. It means being educated and providing financially while also covering traditional and necessary duties like cooking, cleaning, planning and childcare. But despite the rising expectations for parents, Millennial moms and dads are still prioritizing quality time with their children. It may not be the traditional six o’clock family dinner considering the busy schedules of two working parents and the tendency for Millennial employees to overwork, but Millennial parents are spending more time with their children today than 20th century parents did.

Perhaps because of their hectic schedules, in addition to the the influence of their own parents, Millennials are tackling parenting with a less severe approach. Boomers popularized parenting techniques like self-esteem promotion, no physical punishments, and positive reinforcement. Millennial parents appear to be following the same track and utilizing the same non-authoritarian, team-based methods. Millennial parents want their kids to build self-esteem through focusing on the positives and allowing them to have more freedom when it comes to their choices.

One value that has definitely stemmed from Millennial parents’ hectic schedules is hard work. Most Millennials graduated during the economic recession when it was difficult to find jobs, instilling the idea that they must work hard and be dedicated to achieve success. What Millennials themselves learned from this has influenced the top traits they want to instill in their own kids. According to a study by CrowdTap, the No. 1 value Millennial parents want their kids to have is, by far, respect (34.5%), followed by responsibility (16%). Other important values include honesty and compassion. The fact that so many Millennial moms and dads both agreed that respect for others, as well as self-respect, is imperative for their children reveals that sister traits such as communication, sincerity, gratitude, and being a good listener are also primary concerns.

Dr. Kathleen Gerson, sociology professor and author, affirms that “even amid new economic uncertainties, most parents are doing their best to give their children whatever they need to grow up and find a stable future in an increasingly unpredictable world.”

Marketers can avoid unpredictability for themselves by taking advantage of what Millennial parents want for their kids and offering these consumers a way to achieve their goals.

For more on Millennial parent values, check out our Millennial Parenthood Brief here!

About Ilana Bodker

Ilana's background in publishing combined with a lifelong love of writing led her to her interest in advertising and marketing. She served as Junior Editor for Jeff Fromm and Angie Read's upcoming "Marketing to Gen...See Ilana's full bio.

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