NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Jemima Kirke, star of Girls, is a 30-year-old mother of two children aged five and two, which means she is Millennial mom.
In an opinion piece in Time Magazine, she writes about her constant parenting fears, which strike a chord with other Millennial moms ages 18 to 32.
"If I don't turn the baby monitor all the way up, will I miss the cries of my child, who might possibly be too cold? Or thirsty? Or lonely?" Kirke wonders. "If I soothe my children with a cookie, am I setting them up for obesity? If I don't put my kids to bed tonight and instead go to a dinner party, will they think, 'Why did Mommy leave me?'"
Kirke attributes her fears to the cultural perception that information and control can prevent loss. "As a result, I am constantly harassing, monitoring and condemning myself for mistakes, because doing so comforts me, as if the fear of loss could prevent it from happening."
In the end, she has come to believe this isn't true: "I can't guarantee or even control my children's well-being, in the same way I can't guarantee I'm screwing them up."
That nagging uncertainty accompanied by the search for digital parenting information is what distinguishes Millennial parents from Gen-X or Baby Boomer parents.
SOCIAL MORES & SOCIAL MEDIA
Time polled over 2,000 parents with kids under 18, and Mother magazine compared the results with previous studies to draw comparisons between generational parenting styles. (Spoiler alert: Millennials are more digital.)
- Millennials are less likely to get married before having children; only 42 percent said it was "very or extremely important," compared with 51 percent of Baby Boomers and 49 percent of Gen-Xers.
- Millennials are older parents: the average age of a first-time mother is 26, as opposed to 21 in 1970.
- Millennials are more likely to be stay-at-home parents; 23.2 percent of Millennials were "stay-at-home" parents, compared to 16 percent of Gen-Xers and 22 percent of Baby Boomers.
- Millennials are much more likely to use social media; 90 percent do, compared with 76 percent of Gen Xers and 59 percent of Baby Boomers.
- Forty-six percent of Millennials posted a picture of their youngest child in utero or before the baby was one day old.
- Millennial parents are concerned with the pressure to appear a certain way, thanks to the images posted by their peers on social media.
- Millennials are twice as likely to ask Google for advice than Baby Boomers are.
Kirke's opinion essay affirms this digital profile. She writes about the way the abundance of digital information is both empowering and debilitating because it capitalizes on parents' fear of losing their children.
"Our parenting culture, which pumps out information via blogs, parenting books, playground conversation, doulas, mommy groups, -boutique preschools, playgroups, baby- and child-safety and efficiency products, Instagram, etc., blurs the existential truth that parenting is all loss," she said.
Her claim is probably true. The 2015 State of Modern Motherhood Report, co-sponsored by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, posted key findings about mothers and marketing that suggest Millennial mothers are extremely susceptible to marketing stratagems.
"Becoming a mom triggers a total brand re-evaluation and potential brand shift across a wide range of purchase categories," the study said. "US millennial moms are more likely to own smartphones than laptops/PCs, and report spending 35% more time online on their phones."
With so many moms on phones for so long, digital marketing is at a premium.
"Year-over-year figures clearly show that US millennial moms are spending more time with media overall, due to mobile [phones]. ... Mobile usage by millennial moms outpaces TV" in the five countries studied in the report.
Considering that 83 percent of babies born in the U.S. are the children of Millennial parents, the digital lives and the potentially fear-based or peer-pressure-driven spending of their parents is set to steer the course of industries—and raise the number of baby pictures posted online.