Millennials: It’s Time To Parent Differently
We can probably all agree that society today is suffering from enormous dysfunction. Everything from crime to unemployment to mental illness to drug abuse to debt to mortality is trending in the wrong direction, assuming you are pro-human and don’t want us all to suffer and die. Extreme material comfort notwithstanding, the warning signs of a collapsing empire could not be more obvious.
It’s little surprise, then, that the Millennial generation is doing something their parents and grandparents never did: they are looking to the past for answers.
Conservatism and traditionalism are on the rise as the new counter-culture that challenges the predominantly leftwing, r-selected establishment. Presented with ample opportunities for “consequence-free” sex, kids today are increasingly eschewing promiscuity. Voices are rising up among the young to advocate for stay-at-home mothers, large families, and stable marital relationships.
It is truly a beautiful thing.
Gen Z faces a great challenge as they embark on parenthood: a complete lack of role models.
As Dr. Drew has wisely pointed out time and again, child abuse is at the core of virtually all of our current problems. No, not child abuse in extreme circumstances out on the fringes of society. In every home. In your home.
It’s merely a matter of degree. Gen Z is the third generation to be raised by strangers, in artificial environments that are cold, isolating, unstable, and unnatural for us. The cost can scarcely be comprehended: attachment issues, rampant anxiety and depression, emotional instability, abandonment issues, and rising rates of nearly every mental disorder known.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to see Gen Z looking toward parenting with excitement. But most of us parent our children the way we ourselves were parented. And we were parented badly.
Very, very badly.
Take this example from the meme wars:
It’s intended as a celebration of family, childhood, and motherhood and serves as encouragement for Millennials to get themselves in the family way. But for anyone attuned to the problems of the type of narcissistic parenting visited on Gens X and Y by the Boomers (and on the Boomers by the Silents), this picture is a nightmare.
You’re probably confused, because, as previously mentioned, you were parented terribly. Allow me to explain.
The children in this picture are around 6 months to 1 year old. Children do not develop any sort of interest in other children until about age 2. Even at that age, children do not play together but rather enjoy playing separately next to each other. All of these “Mommy & me” group classes that throw a bunch of babies in a room together have nothing to do with what the baby needs. They exist solely to fulfill the social desires of the mother.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with mothers wanting to socialize with other mothers. But there is something wrong with denying that that is what’s going on, with putting up a false front of virtue for “putting your kid first” in a way that actually has nothing to do with your child’s needs. That’s textbook narcissism, and it has devastating consequences for children.
Look at where the mothers’ eyes are pointing in this picture. Only one is maybe paying attention to a child, and even in that case it’s clear the bulk of her attention is with the other mothers. Look at the baby closest to the camera: he appears to be reaching for something or pulling himself away from his mother’s grasp. Whatever it is, that’s what interests and motivates him- something the mother is clearly indifferent to in this moment.
Yeah, yeah, I’m a spoil-sport. Check the handle before you whine at me about it. But I’m not nit-picking here for no reason.
If Gen Z wants to turn this cultural ship around, they don’t have the luxury of aping what their parents did. Old Economy Steve gave you crap advice on getting a job, and your Boomer parents did a crap job of raising you. Or rather the daycares and school systems your parents abandoned you to did a crap job of raising you (as is their purpose- but that’s a topic for another day.)
If you want the world to be better, you have to produce better children. If you want to produce better children, you have to break the mold in which you were forged.
It’s going to be incredibly tough. It’s unimaginable how much we’ve lost due to the breakdown of the inter-generational knowledge transfer mechanism that used to keep families and communities and nations on a stable foundation as each new generation explored new ways to improve upon tradition.
That said, we are better equipped than ever before in history to meet this challenge. Information is freely accessible at our fingertips 24/7. Research in child development has made enormous strides from 1970 onward. You just have to go and find it.
A family therapist once told me that the average middle class expectant mother buys one book on parenting. Just one. She probably buys a dozen on dieting and five on “unleashing her inner goddess” and another couple on nailing that interview when she goes back to work, leaving her flesh-and-blood to be raised by strangers. But for the biggest commitment of her life, the biggest commitment anyone can make, just one. If that.
We can do better. We have to do better. The future depends on it.