Despite what some may argue, this generation is generally more transparent with our personal experiences with our peers and with our public.
Now, before everyone has an opinion with that statement, there are many reasons to why I find this: the one very prominent reason is Social Media.
First, I’d like to get into the reality that being so transparent does not necessarily sit well with everyone in the right way. However, it may be helping this growing generation by affording us the comfort we’ve always yearned for. It’s a type of validation that, especially with our motherhood woes, I personally hadn’t expected. Not until a community of women experiencing the same and similar issues had swarmed in, fists raised, tears welling, at least that’s what I imagine…
With social media on the rise and diverse applications that further connect us to more relationships both platonic and romantic, there are many platforms that give us the opportunity to share more openly than ever before. And this cannot be ignored.
The virtual reality in which we live in is incredibly vast and readily accessible. Unlike any other generation in the past, we have easy access to information and are able to form opinions like never before. But whether we are exposing our life (filtered or not) on social media and other media platforms, there remain reasons as to why we portray and express ourselves so openly and comfortably as opposed to past generations. For that we have access to information and form opinions like never before.
For one thing, most millennial parents do not have access to their children’s grandparents like many did in past generations. I must not forget about those who moved away from home to flourish in an independent lifestyle. Especially immigrant families who had decided to better their life for their children’s sake, far from their families. Generally speaking, for most North American born-and-raised parents, we’re feeling the lack of family support like never before.
The statistics show that the number of single-earner families dropped from 1,487,000 to 493,000 in Canada alone between 1976 and 2015. This evidently indicates that due to financial strain and to more career-driven parents, mothers and fathers have to return to work after maternity leaves far more now than in the 70’s and 80’s.
We are also currently seeing an older retiree rate. In 2019 the average age in which an individual retires is 64, suggesting that millennial parents are no longer relying on their parents to help with child rearing as their parents before them might have done. Most boomers are living and working longer, so we have no option but to depend on unaffordable childcare.
As millennial parents, we bond with one another by conversing about topics such as the rates of childcare waiting lists and expectations from our children’s private schools. We’re all going through this so why not talk about it?
We are not just sharing our stories for attention and pity. We are sharing them to comfort others and bring light into our situations; no matter how dark that they might appear in the moment.
Mothers especially often have negative misconceptions of who they become once their children are born. Between the belief that most of us lose love for our changed bodies; that we must find joy in every waking moment with our children; that we must hide our marital or relationship issues because it’s “tacky” to discuss such matters, is quite frankly, silly. We do not have to hide from them. Not now that we have the privilege and opportunity to share them.
We are now weeding through the bull shit that many of the older generations put up with by seeking therapists to repair or crutch or confirm their inability to restore broken relationships, joining mom-groups in real life or virtual life in order to gain community, and shamelessly show off our postpartum bodies. Because all of this is very valid and all of this is very normal. In my opinion, we’re forming a beautiful and supportive community. A community that is diverse and ever so expanding.
By transparently sharing our truths, we are building trust and comfort. We are not airing our dirty laundry, we are expressing our day-to-day obstacles so that we can either welcome or offer support that may have been unavailable to us in the past. Either because these topics we are now discussing so publically were once frowned upon or maybe because the older generations of parents believed they were alone with them, which of course no one is, we’re just talking about it more.
When we personally AND publically find acceptance in the normalcy of obstacles we face, we promote visibility. We no longer have to hide in our problems. We no longer have to live with unsolved questions. If anything, we’re taking advantage of our privileges and encouraging other mothers to do the same.
By sharing our bad and good days, we are providing inclusive acceptance. We are promoting love. We are promoting shared experiences and realization that not everyone knows what they’re doing and how to do it. Let me re-phrase that: no one knows what they’re doing and this is why we need the help through open conversations.
The more we are open, the more we will support one another in our best and worst moments. Perhaps people are not used to sharing their ‘bad days’ and would rather focus on the good- and that’s ok! But there are many of us who want to shamelessly
share our negative experiences publically to show there’s no shame in the bad. There are also many of us who want to change the public’s perspective, telling them that what they believe to be ‘bad’ or ‘abnormal’ may be actually quite natural and fine.
And though life is cyclical and history repeats itself, I can confidently state that we’re unlike any other parenting generation from our past. Each generation will have to deal with the same issues in an ultra uber-internet world that us millennials will inevitably create… for the good of our next generation. Our children. Though we’re forming an open community, undoubtedly we will have to defend our decisions and actions to our very own children who criticize us for all the ills that they surmise we have left them with. But at least we’re learning to be open about talking about them.
Don’t let your concerns be forgotten about. Face them, talk about them, learn from them, and bring forward that awareness to share with others. Including your children. Because in life, there should be no topic left unspoken. There should be no limit to one’s knowledge and you should never feel discouraged to speak about it as loudly as you would like, and without criticism or reprisal.
Sources: wealthsimple.com, www150.statcan.gc.ca
Words by Julian Jamie
Photographed by Ashley Klassen for Mother Muse No.12 available here