In part 1 of this blog subject, I contended that we are witnessing the Millennials (mainly people who were children in 2000) as a generation that will spearhead many positive changes in history and this post is to suggest why.
They are generally fiscally conservative, socially liberal, well disciplined and have developed talents at early ages, all attributes that bode well for the future. It’s not that they are inherently better than any other generation, but they have gotten off to a promising start for one main reason: better parenting. Perhaps their parents could be labelled “the greatest generation of parents”! Again, it’s not that their parents are inherently better individuals than parents of any other generation, but many things have conspired to help them become better, more effective parents. Just the fact that Millennials are living at home longer than any other generation is indicative that their relationship with their parents is good. Despite the fact that parents in my generation did their best, baby boomer kids were anxious to get out of the house, getting itchy to leave as early as 15 or 16, although the vast majority hung in there until high school grad and then were gone shortly after that, and glad of it.
So why is parenting significantly better today? There are a lot of reasons that add up to it. It shows up in the chart below that indicates that both parents are spending more time than ever with their kids, and that alone is hugely important to the development and socialization of kids. When kids are brought up by kids (we were largely free to roam the town with other kids in the baby boomer generation), you get a rougher upbringing, Here is the chart:
While mothers are working more hours, fathers are working fewer, and housework is not only lessened with more automation, fathers are doing more of the share. The end result is that both mothers and fathers are spending more time with their kids.
There are numerous other factors that are helping raise the quality of parenting:
1. Greater societal pressure to be good parents.
2. Better child protection laws which help parents by reducing abuse from outside the nuclear family as well as more legal scrutiny on abusive parents.
3. Parents are older before starting a family, the average age of mothers has increased by about 5 years on average over a couple of generations. Older, more mature parents have inherent advantages over the younger ones.
4. Parents are now able better than ever to choose the timing of children, so children come in the timing and numbers that is right for the parents. Young adults face far less pressure to have any children, so fewer will have them just to be a “normal” couple without a strong desire to have them.
5. Successful efforts against the abuse of women, sexual assault and greater equality for women mean that fewer children are born into difficult circumstances.
6.Increased economic prosperity means that families face less “basic survival stress” to food and shelter, creating a better environment for kids.
7, Individuality of children is more accepted. Kids are less likely to face being a round peg shoved into a square hole. Parents are better at accepting the sexuality of their children rather than force them into a stereotypical relationship.
8. Divorce rates have declined, and those who do divorce, are likely to be less hostile between spouses and more child-focused than to use children as weapons against an estranged spouse, so kids are surviving divorce better.
While these changes in parenting have been very good for the latest generation, there are signs that some things have swung a bit far with the category of “helicopter parents” who are inclined to hover over their children at bit too much. That’s bound to happen with a cultural movement like this, but overall, the current generation of parents are doing a pretty good job!