When you picture a millennial, what do you see? A geek parked in front of a computer or a twenty-something taking selfies all the day long, financially irresponsible and wanting to enjoy the finer things in life?
You probably didn’t picture a parent spending time with children. Yet millennials make up most of today’s new parents and parents-to-be. Born between the 1980s and the early 2000s, millennials are no longer the youngest generation – in a few years, the following generation, Generation Z, will enter the workplace! – and the oldest of them approach 40. Having come of age during the economic crisis of the late 2000s and early 2010s and holding more student debt than any previous generation, millennial parents are tackling parenting differently.
First of all, they seem to break the stereotypical gender roles. Millennial dads are taking an active role as parents. They are more involved in the day-to-day of childcare, strive to be perfect fathers, influence purchase decisions and turn to the web and mobile devices for help. According to research recently conducted by Google with Flamingo and Ipsos Connect, millennial dads watch more parenting-related content that moms do: 86% of them turn to YouTube for guidance or key parenting topics like preparing meals, using a product or assembling gear. In addition, more and more fathers put their priority in family and stay at home, especially in the United States. A Pew analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data shows that their number has nearly doubled in the past two decades.
Often cash-strapped – and many of them underestimating the cost of raising a baby during the first year, said a NerdWallet analysis – millennial parents track their expenses carefully and are very open to guidance. In their stolen moments, they are constantly seeking out relevant and helpful information on their mobile devices. Google data shows that searches for baby-related terms on mobile platforms have grown 52% year over year. Mobile has become the new instruction manual. Instead of relying on traditional sources (“Ask my mom for help? Never!”), millennial parents watch videos on YouTube, share information on social media and welcome branded content, especially when they need an answer. It is not by accident that more and more brands for babies are involved in social media and offer step-by-step tutorials (dress tutorials or for putting baby to sleep).
According to the same research conducted by Google, millennial parents have a more familiar and less hierarchical relationship with their children. About three quarters of the respondents involve their children in household decisions and nearly 8 out of 10 agree that their child is one of their best friends!
Does it mean that millennials are entirely devoted to their children? Well, not exactly. Even as parents, millennials don’t change their identity and care about preserving a sense of self. They are more likely to hold onto their personal passions than previous generations. They make time for themselves, incorporate their kids into their hobbies or both.
Finally, balancing “me” time and “family” time millennial parents are not radically different from their own parents, Generation X. They face the same problems but because of their background – a difficult economic climate – they are just more pragmatic and want to be more real. That means sharing responsibilities, keeping their passions as a priority and being more authentic with their children.