Imagine a scenario where a millennial couple has to raise a Gen-Z kid, with a house full of Gen-X (a generation that has some really strong viewpoints, especially when it comes to raising a kid)! Breaking stereotypes in parenting has to be inevitable.
A few months ago, I had the privilege of staying with a couple, their newborn, and their in-laws for a few days. I would say it was fun not only because I was just a bystander to a classic family situation, but also because the whole family was actually breaking all the set stereotypes of raising a newborn, in their own ways. It was fun to watch them commit a so-called “crime” and wait for other people’s reactions (totally unanticipated ones!).
A quick note for those of us who are clueless about what Gen Y and Z are – you’re welcome!
Gen X, is a term typically used to describe the generation of those born between 1965 and 1980. Generation X follows the baby boomer generation and precedes the millennial generation.
Generation Y refers to Millennials born between 1981 and 1996, while generation Z refers to the zoomers or iGens born between 1997 and 2012.
Back to the fun visit, now.
Breaking stereotypes in parenting
Breaking Feeding Patterns
This is an established fact that a baby needs to be breastfed in the initial months of his/her growth. Every new mom aspires to do it, even if it means she has to do it 15-20 times a day. Having said that, if you are a mom, you know that it is a pretty difficult job. Sometimes the female becomes incapable (and I am only talking about the physical strength here!) of doing it for several long months. There are times when it gets overwhelming, especially when the baby latches on for hours.
The couple I am talking about broke this “moral” code of giving the baby only mother’s milk and actually started the baby off on formula, once or twice a day (just after a few days of baby’s birth). The couple’s in-laws had their reservations about it, but then there was no going back on the baby-formula thing.
Breaking Food Intake Patterns
It is believed that during the first few days after pregnancy, the mother has to follow a strict diet, where she is not allowed to eat a whole lot of dishes (rather, ingredients) and she is supposed to eat only some specific dishes (which, naturally, do not agree with your tastebuds!).
Now the problem with the new mom was that she was just not able to adapt to the new dietary routine and she actually lost her appetite. This was quite a tricky situation for the husband because the elders of the house would not let go of the dietary plan and his wife was incapable of going ahead with the nutritive plan.
The solution; the father actually started sneaking online ordered food for his wife, into their room.
Breaking Name Pattern
Surprisingly, the couple thought of naming their kid ‘Ruhaan’ which personally I feel is a beautiful name with a beautiful meaning; but then it is an Arabic origin name which is kind of unheard of, in a typical Hindu family.
The name ‘Ruhaan’ was actually a portmanteau of the names of the couple and hence the couple was hell-bent on not giving it up. So, eventually, the elders accepted the official name of the kid (of course, with a heavy heart), but decided they would use their choice of name, personally, for the baby. Now the baby boy has an official name and some 10 unofficial names!
Breaking Ceremonies Stereotypes
The couple I am talking about are Bengalis, and they follow the ritual of Anna Prasan (ceremony of feeding the baby cereals for the first time). Usually, this ceremony is performed by the brother of the new mom.
However, in this case, the whole family came to the common conclusion that they would instead ask the sister of the new mom to perform the ceremony (given the fact that the aunt has been there for the family and the kid, much more than anyone else, and I think this gesture sounds about right).
Breaking Postpartum Depression Myth
Postpartum Depression is very real and is much more visible in millennial females. What we need to understand here is that there is something called the anticipation of having—and being with—a newborn (which is an absolute fairytale in the imagination), and then there is reality hitting hard!
The transition of going from an independent working woman to a woman feeding her baby 15 times a day, takes a toll on a women’s physiological, emotional and mental health. Add to this, a woman realizes that it is so not the fairytale that she has been imagining. It is a shock, to say the least.
Well, the husband in this case took full charge and took his wife to an expert so that she could overcome the postpartum depression. He has been quite involved in the whole process and has been there for his wife and baby, the way a man is genuinely supposed to be.
Breaking Shopping Patterns
Now that we shop everything online, baby clothes are no exception. There were times when elders believed that the kid should be wrapped in old and bland clothes (supposedly it saved the baby from the evil eye).
Now we have online stores like Firstcry and Hopscotch, where you get beautiful baby clothes at amazing prices, which no parent can say no to. These online shopping platforms offer ample options for kids at reasonable prices and you can shop with extra discounts using coupon code and save extra while shopping online. Now, we see Ruhaan in a designer red-colored onesie, looking irresistibly cute and sweet . . . and it did not even cost his parents an arm and a leg.
While I was driving back home after an interesting stay with the family, I somehow found myself musing, with one question in my head: are we missing out on the beauty of our traditions, while trying to cope with the challenges of the modern times that we now live in?
There are millennials who are questioning the ‘why’ of every established tradition/practice that we have been following, and then there is Gen-X that wants to push their belief system on the next generation, without giving acceptable logical answers!
It is time we talk about the ‘why’ of any ritual that we practice and help meet various generations halfway, somehow!
What do you think?