Every generation shares similarities and differences. People have to adapt to how the world advances, but anyone who’s currently a parent shares one new thing in common — a different approach to spending time with their kids. Check out why this generation of parents is changing how we play with our children to better understand the motivations behind each family’s unique reasons for bonding during family activities.
1. Family Structures Are Evolving
Families are never identical, but the nuclear family structure used to create the appearance of similarity. In the 1950s, people believed the ideal family comprised of a working father, a stay-at-home mother and two to three children. Mothers took on all parenting responsibilities because the fathers worked full-time jobs to provide the family’s sole economic support.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the female workforce to grow to 47.7% by 2050, a sharp increase from the 29.6% of women who worked full-time in the 1950s. If both parents or single parents have careers, they need to change how they play with their children based on their schedules.
2. Parents Are Getting Older
The average woman now has her first child at 26, compared to the average age of 21 for mothers in the 1970s. Assuming their partners are around the same age or older, parents are now further in their careers when they start having kids. They can take parental leave or paid time off that younger employees might not have yet. Older parents are more available for playtime in their child’s first few months as a result.
3. Adults Need More Movement
Parenting keeps you on your feet, but that doesn’t mean you can get the same amount of exercise as you did at the gym. Physical activity is a crucial component of staying healthy, but 60% of adults don’t move enough to strengthen their muscles or raise their heart rates. Making up games in the backyard or dancing to songs together during rainy afternoons are just a few ways parents increase their physical activity by playing with their kids more.
4. People Face More Social Pressure
Posting on social media puts your parental habits on display for the world and the habits you don’t yet have, like spending enough active time with your kids. Parents may be more inclined to take their children to playgrounds or parks so their social media feeds show their family having fun in new ways. It’s also why some parents may begin coaching their child’s sports teams. They’ll demonstrate how passionate they are about their kids because their social media posts create a new generational pressure to create new opportunities to play together.
5. Kids Have More Screen Time
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that kids spend around six hours per day on screens like computers, televisions and phones. It’s an electronic lifestyle that previous generations didn’t have to think about while their children grew up. Kids would automatically play outside and get moving, but now parents have to change how they play with their children based on how often they’re in front of screens.
Spending time in the backyard, biking around the neighborhood or participating in community sports will be more of a priority for mostly sedentary families seeking more bonding time. Parents may push harder to spend time together with these activities because they don’t want their kids in front of a screen as often.
6. Fathers Want to Break Stereotypes
Dads hang out with their children for an average of 59 minutes every day, compared to the 16 minutes fathers spent with their children during the 1960s. People recognize the distant-father stereotype either from their upbringing or that of their loved ones.
It’s a generational cycle that necessitates change because fathers want to bond with their kids as much as mothers. The current generation of dads will likely be more involved to teach their children that stereotypical lifestyles aren’t the only way to live.
7. Parents Have More Resources
Before the internet and access to affordable personal transportation, parents relied on the kids in their neighborhood to befriend and entertain their children. Now parents have more social activities for their kids through virtual clubs or modern inventions. A local group might encourage children to play Quidditch from the “Harry Potter” series or parents could partner with their kids for video game championships. They’re bonding activities that weren’t around for previous generations that give parents extra opportunities for bonding with their kids.
8. Kids Need More Exercise Now
Research shows that the average American child consumes 12.4% of their daily calories from fast food. Depending on fast food and takeout for meals can stem from various factors parents might not be able to change, but they can control how they play with their kids. Parents may be more inclined to get active with their children to balance their daily diet. The generations that came before them had less access to fast food if at all, so this is a new way for families to hang out while prioritizing their wellbeing.
Generational Parenting Changes Are Happening
There are many reasons why this generation of parents is changing how we play with our children, but the primary factors vary between families. Whether parents are motivated by changes in their diet, work routine or age, they’re creating new activities for everyone to enjoy together while their kids are still young.