Millennials reveal what they wish their parents had done differently while they were growing up - and #5 is heartbreaking

No matter how old we are, we're always looking back to our childhoods and wondering how things could have been different

nostalgic photo from childhood
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A group of millennials have revealed the biggest things they wish their parents had done differently when they were growing up and there's a lot parents today can learn from the insight. 

The parenting styles people develop when they have kids is largely influenced by the approach their own parents took with them. If you adored your own childhood, it's likely you'll choose to raise your own kids in a similar way, but if you don't have fond memories from your younger years, picking a completely different parenting approach is more likely.

Some millennial parents may be envious of how different life is for kids growing up today than it was for themselves while others are proud of the fact, making sure their kids don't experience the same as they did and begging their parents to keep their anxieties to themselves and spare the grandkids

Even if you did have an idyllic childhood, it's likely there are some aspects you'd have changed if given the choice. Many people do and this was proved when the Huffington Post spoke to a selection of millennials about what they wish their parents had done differently while they were growing up. 

1. Many wished their parents had 'been more firm and practical in their career advice. One participant who has jumped between many jobs and currently works in construction after 'giving up' on many of their career dreams, said, "I wish that my parents would have encouraged me to explore academics early on. Had they pushed me in the right direction and been a bit more critical of my choices, I’d probably led a quite different life today. If I could go back and start over, I’d study medicine.”

2. Many wished their parents had taught them financial literacy. “I really wish my parents had taught me more practical life skills like personal finance and investing," said one participant. "They provided me with a very stable and loving childhood, but focused mostly on academics and traditional career paths like medicine or law. I entered the workforce woefully unprepared when it came to understanding taxes, budgeting, financial planning and passive income streams. It wasn’t until my 30s that I started properly educating myself on money management.”

3. On a more personal note, many participants said they would have liked their parents to have 'cared for their own mental health,' something we today prioritise a lot with self-care ideas and tips to manage stress. One participant said they believe their parents would have 'parented with better restraint and more patience, and wouldn’t have passed on their trauma responses to their kids,' if they had looked after their mental health better. 

4. Others wished their parents had 'been more mindful with discipline' and avoided being so 'intensely reactive' to perceived wrongs. Many said they experienced physical punishments as children and, as a result, now never 'hit or threaten' their children in any way, suggesting one potential factor affecting the increasing popularity of gentle parenting. “When my children behave towards me in ways that I recall being hit or spanked over as a child, it’s like a constant reminder of how unfair our childhoods were," said one participant. "Our generation had to deal with a lot of pain, literally, and now we have to turn it all around and show up better for our children.”

5. Heartbreakingly, many simply wished their parents had 'spent more time connecting' with them. “My parents didn’t make family a priority. We, their children, were not the priority. Work, their romantic relationships and the families of their romantic partners almost always came before us," said one participant. "Now as a parent I see that putting family, specifically my children, first is a choice that has to be made every day. 

Keep up to date with more family news like nearly half of teenagers are concerned about having children - and there are two huge factors making them worry and these 5 tips from a relationship expert can help you navigate your first half-term without any fallouts, as well as two thirds of parents feel constantly unwell as they ‘power through’ day-to-day family life, new research shows

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Royal News and Entertainment writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is royal news and entertainment writer for She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.