by Leah Perlmutter, Director of Research & Strategy, Published on MediaPost
Today’s feminism stresses that true equality must come not only from women being equal in the work place, but also from men contributing equally at home. Millennial parents are the first to try to take on this challenge of equal contribution both in terms of the paychecks they bring home and the work that goes into childcare and household chores. Millennial parent attitudes are proving that it truly is a challenge as both parents seem to be taking on more and working harder without benefiting from the relief that their partner should, in theory, provide.
As more and more households have two incomes to rely on, we might expect to see less of a focus on the highest possible salary for both contributors — especially in a generation that is known for valuing their passions over their paychecks. Among Millennial parents, however, we are seeing money as an extremely important indicator of success, suggesting parenting as a life stage is evolving some long-held Millennial sentiments.
According to our Youth IQ (a quarterly survey tracking attitudes, behaviors and brand affinity among Gen Z and Millennials), 7 in 10 Millennial dads say that making a lot of money is one of the most important things to them when planning for their careers, compared to less than 6 in 10 Millennial men who are not dads. The same trend holds true for Millennial moms — 58% feel that money is extremely important in their careers compared to only 46% of Millennial women who are not moms.
Money is not the only thing on their minds. Millennial dads are joining the fight that women have already been in for years to “have it all.” They want successful careers, to be present and involved fathers, and to still participate in the hobbies and passions that they still hold dear. Almost three in four say they are regularly trying new things to find their true passions (compared to 61% of Millennial men who are not dads, and 58% of Millennial moms). These dads, however, are starting to feel the strain of being pulled in many directions. Forty-one percent feel they have too many activities outside of work (versus only 21% of moms who feel this way). They are frankly overwhelmed with trying to juggle it all.
This is not to say that Millennial moms have found the perfect balance. Many have found they have to sacrifice certain hobbies and passions to be both provider and caregiver. Millennial moms are less likely to have many groups of friends than Millennial dads, they are less likely to be politically active, and are even less likely to go to the movies or watch TV. They often complain that their husbands get to be the “fun parent” in their children’s eyes while they are thought of as “all business.”
Millennial parents are forging fairly new territory in their goals of true “equal partnership.” In many ways, the new “division” of labor seems to be making things harder for both genders, so clearly the perfect balance has yet to be found. This will not, however, stop them from continuing the fight to “have it all.”