Sarah Boesveld | April 24, 2014 | Last Updated: Apr 24 7:42 PM ET
A new generation of laid-back mothers is rewriting the playbook on parenting, ditching the hands-on helicoptering of older mothers and even aspiring to have larger families than their predecessors, according to a Canadian survey published Thursday.
The findings of BabyCenter’s Canadian Millennial Mom Report show a nation of younger mothers who embrace imperfection, seek feedback openly, and view parenthood as a team sport.
It’s an about-face from the angst-ridden, aspirational style of parenting so pilloried in the discourse about motherhood, observers say, and it signals a new optimism about achieving both a fulfilling career and rich family life that could eventually help to lift Canada’s sinking fertility rate.
“There’s this feeling of ‘I don’t want to do what my parents did’ and I think every generation has a little bit of that,” said Ann Elisabeth Samson, editor of BabyCenter Canada. “That’s kind of a backlash against a coddling, enabling [approach] from their parents and the feeling that their parents didn’t do right by them in some way.”
Millennial moms were precisely 16% more relaxed about parenthood than Gen X moms, according to the survey of 1,633 Canadian mothers between the ages of 18 and 44. They were also 37% more likely than their Gen X counterparts to plan on having three or more children — a factor that partly speaks to age, but also outlook on parenthood as it pertains to social shifts: More flexible work, for example, or greater family support.
“If you don’t envision yourself working full time you start to think more about ‘Well if I’m already having two I might as well have three,’” said Ms. Samson, adding that 58% of Gen Y moms said their spouse or partner was a very involved parent.
According to the survey, 77% of babies born in Canada this year will be to Millennials — people between the ages of 18 and 30.
Gen Y’s fondness for family may also come out of their stronger relationships with their parents, said David Coletto, the Ottawa-based CEO of market research firm Abacus Data which runs Canadian Millennials.ca.
On one of its recent surveys, 29% of Canadian Millennials aged 15-32 ranked being a good parent as their top goal in life. Having a successful marriage was top goal for 19% of those surveyed.
“It shows a generation that really does value good parenting,” he said. “I don’t think they’re traditional per se — it’s just a very family oriented outlook.” This bodes well, he said, for Canada’s future demographics, although it does nothing to reverse the trend of Canadians having children later in life.