parents holding daughter while she jumps into the air

Parenting is an interesting concept – it is one of the few things that can be so universal yet so varied all at the same time. There’s no manual nor is there an absolute way to parent, but what’s common is the wish among all parents that their kids grow up healthy and well. While a common intention exists across all parents, the method to get there varies largely across generations. Let’s have a look at how certain parenting styles have evolved across generations, and get down to why different generations can’t seem to see eye to eye with one another’s way of parenting.

  1. Silent Generation Parenting
  2. Baby Boomer Parenting
  3. Generation X Parenting
  4. Millennial Parenting
  5. So Which Parenting Is Best?

1. Silent Generation Parenting

Does anyone else find it interesting that a generation of parents tends to parent their children in a manner that’s almost opposite to what they experienced when young?

For the Silent Generation (1927-1946), parenting in a period of economic instability forced them to hustle really hard to provide for their family. Therefore, their concept of love was to work hard in order to support their loved ones. Barely around at home, their kids were often forced to be self-reliant. By today’s standards, we’d definitely call this parenting style laid-back and casual. Unsurprisingly, it is from this parenting style that the generation of latchkey kids was born.

As far as values were concerned, the Silent Generation believed in hard work, grit, and determination and valued this above all else. As such, they also aspired to pass these values on to their children. It’s no wonder that their kids – the Baby Boomer generation – are well-known for their diligence and commitment towards their work.

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2. Baby Boomer Parenting

As soon as Baby Boomers (1947 – 1964) became parents, they adopted a parenting style completely different from that which they had known from young. Instead of being completely laid-back like the Silent Generation, they swung as far as they possibly could to the other end of the spectrum.

They became helicopter parents, known for micro-managing every aspect of their child’s life. Children virtually lived in a state of protectionism – with everything from their social life, school life, and even their diet, controlled by their parents. For this generation of parents, parenthood was their entire life – they could even sacrifice their hobbies and social life for their kids.

With respect to values, Baby Boomers were once again very different from their parents. As expected, they weren’t as occupied with molding their children into workaholics as their parents were. This generation, having been brought up by detached parents, poured all their time into their children. They are known for their self-esteem parenting, where instead of emphasising on hard work, they focused on developing their child’s confidence. It is also from such a parenting style that their children, the Millennials, earned the name – the ‘Trophy Generation’.

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3. Generation X Parenting

Compared to the Baby Boomers who were born in a time of social change and economic optimism, the Gen Xers (1965 – 1980) grew up in a world that was a lot bleaker. From stock market crashes to serial killers, this generation was born in a world that saw less progress, tainting their worldview and making them more cynical.

In contrast to their Baby Boomer counterparts, Gen Xers were also raised during a time when divorce rates were spiking. As such, they could neither turn to their home nor to the world outside for security. As it turns out, Gen Xers grew up to be independent, responsible adults able to take care of themselves no matter the setbacks that came their way.

Given their inherent risk aversion, they’ve continued to instill the same level of pessimism among their kids. While this might sound awful, Gen Xers’ emphasis on self-reliance has meant that their Gen Z kids are able to “figure things out” by themselves.

Having seen the mistake of the Baby Boomers in developing the trophy generation, however, Gen Xers have decided that their children need to be more selfless. They thus try to instill social awareness and empathy in their kids. On top of that, their disillusionment with institutions (these are the people who campaigned for Brexit and Trump) drove them to groom children with a sense of individualism – to be able to fight for one’s own rights.

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4. Millennial Parenting

happy group of diverse people

Right now, we’re at the generation of the Millennial parents (1981 – 1996). When it comes to Millennials, oh boy, are they different. This generation, having had enough of being controlled their entire childhood, ditched the helicopters and opted for drones instead (‘drone parenting’). These parents hover but don’t direct, and they take on a more responsive approach when interacting with their kids. Amidst parenthood, they also try to maintain some semblance of their own lives.

Given the fact that Millennials grew up amidst many changes (especially technological ones), they have undeniably grown accustomed to change. It is no wonder that they encourage their children to keep an open mind, be tolerant, and practice empathy in all situations. Kudos to them, because open-mindedness is very possibly one of the most crucial survival skills in today’s world.

Millennials and Technology

Besides their parenting style, Millennials also differ tremendously when it comes to their reliance on technology. There’s very possibly no other generation that comes as close to the Millennials as far as digital savviness goes. In fact, there are only two camps – the Millennials, and the non-Millennials.

Compared to non-Millennials (aka. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers) who learned parenting via books and their own parents, Millennials bypassed their parents and went straight to the Internet. It was much faster, there were many more perspectives, and they were free to choose which advice they wanted to follow.

“It’s really not about you Mum, it was just much faster to ask Google.”

Meanwhile, at restaurants, wherever non-Millennials scrambled for pacifiers and toys to stop their kids from creating a ruckus, Millennials on the other hand have no qualms letting their kids play games or watch videos on a tablet or smartphone. Such methods were often deemed to be more efficient at shushing them – although it fuelled a whole other nightmare, that of digitally-obsessed kids!

Speaking of which, Millennials are also the only generation that openly shares their lives on social media, sometimes creating Instagram accounts for their kids even before their child can crawl. As digital natives, they much rather post their kids’ pics on Instagram (or Instastory) than print out pictures and store them in photo albums like non-Millennials are used to.

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So Which Parenting Is Best?

Even as we try to pinpoint and explain the differences in parenting styles across generations, we should always understand that one fundamental trait stays the same – all parents want the best for their child, and they will strive to achieve that in the way they know best. Whether that be giving their child more freedom, or micromanaging their child’s life, there really isn’t a parenting style that’s perfect nor completely flawed. We all just have to learn along the way and adapt, don’t we?

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Marilisa Racco. (2018, May 9). How Are Millennials Different from Gen-xers When It Comes To Parenting? Global News.

Ryback, R. (2016, February 22). From Baby Boomers To Generation Z. PsychologyToday.

Lebowitz, S. (2019, March 19). 6 Ways Millennials Are Raising Kids Differently Than Their Parents. Business Insider.

Quigley, M. (2015, December 23). Millennial Moms Confident About Parenting Skills. AARP.

Holmes, S. (2017, August 14). Millennials Are Rejecting Helicopter Parenting. Here’s Why That Matters For Marketers. AdWeek.

How Baby Boomer Parents Molded the Millennial Generation. Accessed Jan 2, 2019.

Parenting Trends By Generation. Accessed Jan 2, 2019.