Growing up, I had a very traditional (read old) way of thinking what parenting looked like. The mother, father, one boy one girl and a fluffy little Yorkshire terrier, or something or that size to pet whilst sipping your red wine after the kids bedtime. That the mother was married to the father and they had typically traditional roles. One being the homemaker and the other the worker.
As it turns out, this idea was absolutely ridiculous.
When at 25 I became a mother myself, I pondered the idea and questioned where that had formed. Somewhere in my formative years and within our society I had been given an ideal. An ideal set up, an ideal life. The fairy tales and stories we are fed make building blocks in our brains of expectations. All given with the promise of happiness and a proposition of ever lasting love. However, even though myself I had succumbed to some of these ideals, I felt like I didn’t quite fit in what felt like a judgemental, hierarchical bureaucracy that I felt the urge to bolt against. I had been raised by two people who had also slotted into a traditional parenting role and so inevitably modelled my future relationship on theirs. However, as far as traditional roles go they only just got membership to the club. Yes, they could be labelled as a heterosexual couple with a mortgaged house and a dog. But they both held employment as public servants and also both held employment as servants to their own offspring. Because let’s face it, the role of a parent is a never ending service. You are to curtsy at no expense to your flesh and blood without complaint or question.
In no way am I saying that people who fulfil the traditional roles are any less valuable or important. But the notion of traditional parenting has changed. I think that my parents has struggled with this notion slightly, and this caused some internal conflict. They parented as they thought they should, but mixed some more millennial parenting in the mix. Based on how parenting has evolved, they were of the generation that children were to be proud of, to help them to achieve their goals. For children to be almost in addition to their other life achievements. To be trophies. To some this may seem reductionist and isn’t necessarily something to be shrugged at. These parents cared about their children, and gave them opportunities to thrive and grow. My parents loved me and gave me the scaffolding to grow, and that is what I am doing with my children. Just not in the same way.
How do you feel about traditional roles? Do you reject the notion of traditional parenting?
It is such a sensitive topic, because every person has their own meaning behind the label. I mean what is parenting? Ultimately we are trying to help tiny humans understand and navigate the world as it stands in a morally and values based approach. More recently, there’s talk about millennial parenting and how that’s different to more traditional family lifestyles, and I kind of agree. I have a very traditional set up. I’m married to a man, have a mortgaged house, 2 kids and a dog. But I think that’s where it stops, we are very different to our parents and how they parented us. We focus on the emotion, the feeling of things, how we want them to live their life moving towards their values rather than set goals by society. If they work in a traditional job then that’s okay, but if they want to travel the world for the rest of their lives making memories and working freelance, from temp job to temp job we are okay with that too.
Every parent is different.
And embracing that is a wonderful thing don’t you think?
Here’s to raising tiny humans whatever your set up is.
So, how do you think we should parent as a millennial?
Ultimately no one can tell you how to parent, but being there for each other in collaboration and with empathy can go a long way.
Thank you to Johnson’s Baby who kindly asked me to share a story of parenthood.
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