This year, the oldest members of Gen Z will be turning 26. While that's younger than 30 — the average age when an American woman gives birth for the first time, according to 2022 U.S. Census Bureau figures — many Zoomers are increasingly becoming parents. According to projections released by Capita last year, there will be an estimated 4 million Gen Z mothers in the U.S. by 2025, and 17 million by 2060.
These parents will face unique challenges, including, Capita predicts, less political power and less support compared to older generations. In the meantime, they're also trying to disprove all the misconceptions that have colored the world’s view of their parenting.
“It’s almost like everyone is rooting for me to fail just so they can be proven right,” Jennifer Hall, 24, tells Yahoo Life. Hall is a Gen Z mom who feels like she's perceived as incompetent because of her age.
“I get it — I got pregnant at 22. But immediately assuming that I’m a horrible mother because I look young is weird,” she says. “My older family members hover and constantly give me unsolicited advice because they’re worried I’ll mess my child up. In public, people act so weird when I tell them I have a 2-year-old. Some even go as far as saying ‘poor baby,’ as if my child is cursed. It really gets on my nerves.”
Hall says this response has been alienating, and prevents her from asking for help when she does need it. This experience is not unique to her. Maddie Brown, 23, also tells Yahoo Life that the people in her life see her age as a limitation to her being an effective parent.
“It doesn’t matter that their ‘worry’ is unfounded because my baby is fed and cared for, not only physically but also emotionally,” she says. “To them, I’m a young mother so of course I’ll screw up."
Brown says she feels like she’s under heavy criticism anywhere she goes. “My baby suffered an allergic reaction and when I took her to the clinic, one of the nurses told me I was overreacting and I should have waited 'til I was more mature to have a kid," Brown says. "Never mind that my 8-month-old was puffing up like a balloon.”
Carla Letts, the founder and CEO of My Bump 2 Baby, is 26 with a 4-year-old son. One misconception Letts has experienced revolves around the idea that young mothers will struggle at work and must choosing either having a baby or a career. “Contrary to this belief, I have not only built a rewarding career in the family-oriented industry, but I have also maintained a healthy balance between my work and personal life. My son's growth and happiness continuously fuel my drive to secure a brighter future for our family,” she says.
For 24-year-old mom Olivia Fraser, one annoying assumption is that she’s raising an iPad kid. “Everyone is always going on about how Gen Z is chronically online and that has spread to parenting communities,” she says. “Older moms believe that I have a phone addiction, so my son will too.”
Fraser notes that while she loves being on her phone, saying she has a phone addiction is a stretch. And because she has intimate knowledge of how dangerous social media can be, she feels better equipped to help her child cultivate a healthy balance with screen time. “Everyone is so critical of Gen Z moms but we’re all just trying our best.”
People also assume that Gen Z moms are only about partying and socializing. Amy Rose, 25, says that couldn’t be further from the truth. While she does enjoy the occasional party or concert, her priorities lay with her child. “Of course, we enjoy having fun ... but our priorities shift as we become parents. Our kids come first and we're dedicated to providing a stable and nurturing environment,” she says.
“They think all we do is wear makeup and dance on TikTok and that we couldn’t possibly be smart enough to build happy, healthy families," adds Stephanie Ellis, a 22-year-old mom who feels like older generations treat Gen Z-ers like they're dumb. She's also felt judgment about being a young mom with a 1-year-old.
"I’m married to my child’s father but I look young and have a toddler so people assume I’m a teen mom," she shares. "Nothing wrong with being a teen mom but when people make that assumption, they act like I couldn’t possibly know anything about parenting. It’s kind of disheartening."
While the assumptions can be frustrating, moms expressed optimism that attitudes about Gen Z moms would eventually soften.
“Age does not dictate a parent's ability to offer love, care and support," says Letts. "While our challenges may differ from those of older mothers, our dedication and ability to raise happy, healthy and successful children remain unwavering.”
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