73% of millennials believe they are doing a better job of raising kids than their own parents, new research shows - here are 4 things they're doing differently

A poll of millennial parents has highlighted the top things they are doing differently when it comes to raising a family

smiling mother being hugged by her young daughter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

New research has revealed four ways millennials are raising children differently from their own parents, as well as the top challenges modern parents face.

As society changes, so do the most popular parenting styles. New generations develop new criteria for what counts as 'good' parenting, but while we all set out to raise children into well-adjusted, well-rounded, fully functioning humans, that task is much easier said than done. If you've thought about an attitude your parents had when you were growing up that has shaped your own adult life - for better or for worse - you're definitely not alone.

Looking back, today's millennial parents have reflected on the biggest differences between their children's lives vs how they grew up, as well as the life lessons they were never taught that they're making sure to share with their kids. This has shaped their approach to parenting, and recent research has shared the biggest differences between how millennials raise kids and how the generations before them approached family life.

The poll of 1,000 millennial parents (aged 28-43) conducted by Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago found that 88 per cent feel that their parenting style is different from the way they were raised, and 73 per cent believe they are doing a better job than their own parents did.

And while some findings painted a positive picture of modern parenting - for example, 80 per cent of respondents believe discussions with children around mental health are very important - the poll also highlighted some of the challenges that millennial parents face. Nearly half (46 per cent) of millennial parents feel burned out, while a huge 85 per cent believe social media creates unrealistic parenting expectations.

The research went on to highlight four major differences in the way millennials are raising kids in comparison to how their own parents raised them.

3 ways millennials are raising their children differently from their parents

1. Embracing gentle parenting

Nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of millennial parents practice gentle parenting - a parenting style that guides children through the decision-making process, without the parent setting demands and rules.

Meanwhile, nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) say their parenting style is different from how they were raised, and nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) believe they are better parents than their own parents. With that in mind, a third of millennials say their family members question their parenting methods.  

The poll found that the top three ways millennial parenting differs from previous generations are: more open communication, greater emphasis on emotional intelligence, more flexible parenting styles.

2. Accessing new information

Social media sits at number five in the top places millennials get parenting advice, below family, other parents, friends and books respectively. 24 per cent of respondents said they had gotten parenting advice from social media, but a quarter admitted to to not double-checking the advice they had seen.

And there are other problems social media presents when it comes to parenting. 85 per cent believe social media creates unrealistic parenting expectations (with 46 per cent of respondents saying they feel burned out), while 30 per cent of millennial mothers say they compare their parenting success to others on social media.

3. Opening up about mental health

In more positive news, 80 per cent of millennial parents think discussions about mental health and emotional wellbeing are important in shaping a child’s overall development. This is in contrast to their own upbringing, with two thirds of millennials saying their parents never talked with them about mental health, while 98 per cent talk with their own children about it. 

Although 80 per cent of millennial parents believe they set a good example for their children in dealing with stress and supporting mental health, they admit that there are challenges. Though 12 per cent of respondents currently have a child in therapy, one in five hesitate to tell others for fear of judgment, and the top challenges millennial parents experience in talking with their kids about mental health include difficulty finding the right words, struggling to determine if a child understands, and fear of making things worse.

4. Being present with their children

The biggest challenges millennial parents said they face include dealing with stress, finances, raising children in a digital age, parental guilt, and balancing work and family life. But, despite this, 77 per cent of millennials believe they're more present with their children than their parents were, while four in five said they prioritise their children over their careers.

Meanwhile, more than four in five (82 per cent) of millennial parents work, but among them, 58 per cent say it’s hard to balance their work and home life. Millennial mothers feel this slightly more, with 63 per cent facing challenges between work and home life, while 55 per cent of dads struggle with the balance. 

In related news, research has shown that nearly all millennial parents think their approach to parenting is 'better' than previous generations' and millennials have revealed what they wish their parents had done differently while they were growing up. Elsewhere, it turns out eldest daughter syndrome is a real thing.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.