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'As a mum, I've become what I promised my younger self I never would: my parents.'

There’s a moment in every parent’s life when they have what they feel is déjà vu – or history repeating itself.

“If you don’t finish your dinner there’s no dessert!”

“If you don’t finish your homework there’s no television!”

“If you aren’t home by midnight, you’re not going out for a month!”

Yes, most of us realise at some point that all the things we hated hearing as kids are necessary evils that kids do actually need to hear. And that the thing we promised our younger selves would never happen, has in fact happened: we have become our parents.

It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?

This sums up parenting. Image via: Pinterest.

We also know that there are some key differences in how parents of different generations raise their children because times change.

Currently, most parents are either Baby Boomers (born 1946-64), Generation X (born 1965-76) and Generation Y (born 1977-95). Toy specialist and baby care company Fisher Price decided to ask parents in these groups about their different approaches, and they recently released some fascinating results. Their Generational Report is based on more than 1200 responses, and here are some of the key findings:

  • Generation Y parents describe themselves as the most "flexible" and "fun" in comparison to other generations. Baby Boomers described themselves as the most "attentive".
  • Gen Y mothers have found themselves less able to enjoy leisure and social activities after the birth of their first child.
  • Despite more involvement from family members in raising their first child, as well as accessibility to more sources of advice from the internet and social groups, Gen Y parents are showing a desire for more rest, relaxation and ‘me’ time.
  • Sleep (70%), spending time with partner (46%), exercise (42%) and socialising with friends (25%) topped the list for the things Gen Y parents want to do more of.
  • New mothers reported higher involvement from their partners in recent generations, whilst new fathers indicated that their father contributed more than they would’ve done in previous generations.

The findings are backed up by anecdotal evidence. A survey of parents in the Mamamia office confirmed that Gen Y parents rely more on the internet and social media than previous generations, but that extra information was sometimes a burden. As one mum said, "From Pinterest to social media trolls, everything is screaming at us to do more, and do better!"

Of course, the invention of devices and the constant stimulation they bring has heralded a problem that didn't exist in previous generations: technology addiction.

"Devices have given us freedom to be more social with our kids, but it's also made it so much harder to engage with them when we need to," another mum confessed.

Another generational difference was pointed out by Mia Freedman, who said, "Gen Xers are the first generation to use parenting as a verb. Our parents were parents, whereas we now, do parenting. My parents were much more free-range. We now wrap our kids in cotton-wool."

"My parents were much more free-range. We now wrap our kids in cotton-wool," says Mia Freedman Image: Supplied.
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Which of course is so true: these days, we focus a lot on micromanagement of all aspects of our children's lives.

As comedian Mandy Nolan recently wrote for Mamamia, in the 70s, "There [was] no safety, no sunscreen, and basically no supervision. There was no time-out intervention. No Googling the basics. Parents didn’t get involved unless you broke the lava lamp or stabbed a hole in the bean bag."

"No safety, no sunscreen, and basically no supervision," says Mandy Nolan. Image: Supplied.

Which brings us to another generational difference - the pressure on parents to be eco-friendly. One Mamamia mum said, "I think things were much more convenient when I was a kid. We can't even use plastic film in lunch boxes these days!"

Certainly, parenting has changed by necessity over the decades in response to a rapidly evolving world. But ultimately, as we found in our office, parenting techniques come down to people's characters - which, like it or not, are generally dictated by genetics - no matter how much we may want to fight it.

But that's okay, because we didn't turn out too badly... did we?

Differences aside, ultimately, there's one thing every generation of parents will agree on: we love our kids but parenting is exhausting. Sleep, please!

Do you parent like your parents? What is your parenting style like? Tell us in the comments section below.

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