"We Don't Do Santa": Parents In Their 20s And 30s Are Sharing What They're Doing Differently Than The Way They Were Raised, And It's Inspiring

·13 min read

Recently, millennial parents in the BuzzFeed Community shared the things they're doing differently with their kids, and it made me genuinely excited to see the people their kids will grow up to be. And in the comments, even more millennial parents shared how their parenting styles differ from the ways they were raised. Here's what they had to say:

1."I won’t get angry at my kids for having a tone with me when they’re upset or annoyed, and definitely won’t interrupt them during a tense argument. My dad constantly does it. I am 25 now and I still feel like a child when he tells me to be quiet and constantly interrupts when I’m trying to retort and get my point across. It’s infuriating to have a disagreement, and I always end up wishing I didn’t come home for an extended visit."

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2."I’m not gonna sugarcoat things or lie to my kids. Growing up, I didn’t know how sex even worked and my parents refused to send me to the sex ed class in school. I also wasn’t allowed to say the words 'period,' 'pregnant,' 'bra,' 'boobs,' 'pads,' you get it."

"My parents would lie and say everybody who kisses on TV are married in real life because it’s adultery if they weren’t married. And after seeing an actor/actress kiss someone else in a different movie they would tell me it’s CGI and they aren’t actually kissing.

I also wasn’t allowed to watch a movie or show that showed gay kisses because they were 'pornographic.'

My parents were also not affectionate and my dad would never say I love you until I left home, so I never knew what to do in relationships and that led to many abusive partners who took advantage of me and a BPD diagnosis."


3."I ask my daughter (three turning four) what she wants to do, go, eat, play, etc. If she says she wants to go to the beach when it's cold out, I can follow up with, 'Why the beach?' Sometimes it's because she wants to play with water, other times she just wants to play in the sand. If it's sand, there's a large sand park I can go to instead; if water, well, I have a kiddie pool she can go in instead."

little girl playing in a kiddie pool

"If she wants pizza (again 😒) then we can make it together at home and I can teach her about cooking and food, and she's so proud when it's done that she did it.

It's about LISTENING to what she wants, and as a parent, finding a good alternative if it's not plausible. And if not, then to thoroughly explain why it's not possible. I've rarely gotten pushback when I treat her like a human being (weird, right?!)."


Rohane Hamilton / Getty Images/EyeEm

4."We don't do Santa. They watch Christmas movies but we categorize Santa like Mickey Mouse. He is the mascot of the holiday. When they were four, they saw Santa at the end of the Thanksgiving parade. Later in the day, one of my kids asked if Santa was real and I did the infamous, 'What do you think?' and he shook his head no."

"So that opened up the discussion of how much fun it is to pretend (and hopefully not ruin it for other kids), and we enjoy movies about him and the story of giving.

People look at us like we are absolutely insane because we don't do Santa. Some are nervous that our kids will tell their kids; they haven't.

Some have actually asked us how we have fun. We have a freaking blast at Christmas. You can be giving and loving and together without Santa."


5."Not forcing my son to go to school when he’s having an episode. My son has a learning disability and is going to a special school. Some days, he will feel overwhelmed or a bit blue and he will skip that day. It doesn’t happen frequently and I call it a mental health day. I don’t want him to think he can’t trust me when he’s feeling overwhelmed or can’t come to me about these things."

mom highfiving her young son at home

"My mom is a great mom, but she was distant when it came to understanding when I was feeling overwhelmed, and I started bottling things up to avoid having those conversations with her.

I have talks with my son whenever there are changes happening in my life and how they can affect him and if he has worries. Things like that. Communicating and making sure he knows he can trust me and talk to me about anything."


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6."I don’t over-shelter my daughter from the tougher parts of life. My mom recently wound up in the ER in the middle of the night, and as a single parent, I felt my only option was to take her with me. I explained it in ways she would understand, let her see my mom, and she got to see as she got better and was released. Things like this were kept from me when I was a kid and it wound up hurting me more because I wasn’t told the truth from the beginning."


7."I let my kids sleep in. I never understood why parents have to get their kids up early on weekends and summer holiday. That's their time to sleep in. And the world will take most of it away at some point, so let them have it now. My mom would wake me up no later than 10 a.m. because sleeping later is lazy, even if I was up till 4 a.m. babysitting. To me, it was vastly unfair and I let my kids have their time to sleep in."

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8."Mine is teaching my children emotional intelligence. Helping them identify their emotions and how to cope with them in a way that is suitable for them."


9."My first priority is telling my kids 'I love you' and 'you're amazing' and 'you're a beautiful person' without it being induced by something they did. Seriously, as a kid, if I did something my parents thought was cool, I'd get, 'I love you.' And if I didn't, I got *nothing*."

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10."Born and raised Catholic and in the Philippines, where guilting and shaming is an Olympic sport. They also encourage you to have as many children as possible so you’ll have someone to take care of you in your old age. The older kids are forced to grow up fast and sacrifice their dreams to financially support the younger siblings. My one and only child is being raised an atheist, he is not my/our retirement plan, and he does not owe us anything for raising him."

"I will also make sure he’s heard and never dismissed 'cuz he’s 'just a child.' He will be allowed and encouraged to express and argue his points. And god help me, I will make sure he doesn’t grow up to be afraid of the world like I was."


11."Every time I told my mom I wanted to play, she always replied that she was too tired. So now that I have children, every time they ask me to play (if I can) I say yes, even if I'm truly tired. I try to play with them everyday."

dad playing a video game with his daughter
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12."My big thing is never tell my kid he's being a tattletale when he came to me or another adult with a problem. It's my belief that if you brush off a minor problem (like 'that kid took my toy') as tattling, then your kid isn't going to tell an adult about the BIG problems ('such and such is being inappropriate' or 'such and such is doing something dangerous'). I feel telling them that they are being a tattle belittles them and instills a fear of going to an adult with an issue."


13."Allowing my child to negotiate terms, especially since she is a girl. We expect girls to comply and just be grateful for what they are given. I want her to feel comfortable negotiating when she is older. So right now, as a toddler, we negotiate the time until we brush our teeth. Brushing teeth is a non-negotiable but will we do it in two minutes or 10 minutes? Well, it's up for negotiation."

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"She wants cheese for lunch? Well, we need to eat things that also help us poo (fiber) and to make us strong (protein). What does our plate look like? She negotiates for the food she wants that satisfy the needs of her tastebuds and her body.

She gets a voice. She gets a choice. And she gets comfortable challenging in a positive way."


14."I will never compare my children with each other. Growing up, my mom always compared me to my older sister who, in my mom's eyes, was perfect and could never do any wrong. If I got a B in a class, I was told my sister would have gotten a better grade. It was always heartbreaking to do something good and be told my sister would have done it better. Or be asked why can’t you be more like your sister? I hated that."


15."Forcing anything is the worst. I grew up sitting at the dinner table until 11 p.m. some nights because I wouldn’t eat certain foods. My parents always underestimated my stubbornness and pettiness. It just reinforced my behavior and made me hate them."

little girl refusing to eat a broccoli

"I found myself giving my kid ultimatums like that a few times which let to us yelling, him crying and just hurting our bond. I don’t do that anymore at all. He is a rad little man who loves trying new things and knows he can change his mind about stuff."


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16."I hate that my mom still does things for my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter that she can definitely do by herself (putting her shoes on and off, carrying stuff, using a fork). It just makes my daughter lazy and when my mom's around, she'll refuse to do things she knows how to do."

"My mom did stuff for me for way too long when I was little and it made me way more reliant on her and honestly scared to try new things, even as an adult. I get that it's faster to put her shoes on for her, but do you plan on doing it for her until she's what, 16? She needs to do things for herself!"


17."I'm doing my best to check my family heirloom neurosis and perfectionism. If something wasn't done 100 percent correct when I was growing up, there was this big dramatic ordeal along with being reprimanded and of course, having to do it again. Why not, as the parent, jump in and teach the proper way to do something, while also understanding and conveying there are 20 ways to skin a cat? It took a lot of reflection and therapy to understand nothing is perfect and screwing something up doesn't mean you're a failure."

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18."I don't make rules that I don't honestly care about. I think my parents had a lot of rules that were simply there because that's what parents were 'supposed' to say. For example, my mom wouldn't let me get birth control when I was 17 because 'what kind of mother gives their teenager permission to have sex?!' I had sex anyway and, shocker, got pregnant."

"So, when my own 17-year-old asked about birth control, we took care of that straight away (and had already talked about sex and the ramifications of it plenty through the years). I don't really, truly care that they're sexually active. I know most teens will do it, and I want them to be safe and protected.

There are plenty of other examples, but my point to this is: 1. By not making them do stuff that I don't care about, they actually listen when it's important 2. I *know* my kids. They talk to me and aren't scared of me, and 3. I think they're better prepared for adulthood than I was since the world isn't quite as restricted."


19."As a mom of a toddler girl, I struggle with getting her Boomer grandparents to find ways to talk to her or compliment her without making it about her looks. It’s like their brains glitch out and they don’t know how to talk to my daughter without telling her how pretty she is. How beautiful her hair is. Blah blah. It’s just so damaging and vapid and exhausting."

little girl hugging her grandma
Choreograph / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20."I try not to burden my kids with my stresses. Some things I can’t protect them from, like having to move, but my mom used me as a therapist from as young as I can remember and I did not want to do that to my kids. It’s so much pressure for an eight-year-old to have to listen to and try to help solve adult problems. There are things I’ll tell them age-appropriately, like when I told my daughter about my eating disorder when I was younger when I suspected she was starting down that path."

"She still credits me with helping her stop that before it got out of hand. My mom just denied and still denies that she had an ED when she was in her teens, 20s and beyond. She was just 'naturally skinny.' So I tried to emulate her and the only way I could be as thin as she was in her old pictures was by developing an eating disorder.

I'm sure she knew but she never said a word to me at the time. I also never focused on my kids’ weight or put them on a diet, and they’re all healthy. The boys went through their chubby phase but are thinning out through growing."


21.And finally, "I refuse to call my daughter any names that could cause her self-worth to go down. I grew up being called dumb, stupid, idiot, etc. Due to that, I have had a very poor view of myself, and, to be honest, I can’t recall the last time I actually liked myself. I don’t want her to be 30 years old sitting in therapy trying to get to a point where she can just like who she is."

mom hugging her little daughter
The Good Brigade / Getty Images

Are you a millennial parent? Share what raising your kids has taught you in the comments.