Impatient Millennial Parent Syndrome

by Dr. Mark Goulston and Ken Sky

We hope we’re wrong about a phenomena that we are observing in some new millennial parent couples.

As a generation millennials often think, act and speak very rapidly and coincident with their sped up lives they may become impatience with anything that causes them to have to slow down.

Along with that it doesn’t take much for that impatience to become frustration and then for that frustration to cross over into anger.

Unfortunately, newborn infants all the way up to toddlers and beyond, have a much higher level of impatience when they are hungry, need to have a diaper changed or just want to be picked up and held.

Their impatience, frustration, crying and screaming when their needs are not attended to will usually override the impatience of a parent, because parents supposedly have a capacity for self-restraint that infants and young children don’t.

Now imagine that the principal caregiver to that child is still a mother and also how that mother also works full time (maternal leave notwithstanding) and how her attention is pulled at nearly 24/7 as she feels responsibilities from every direction in her life and every role she plays.

Furthermore, imagine that the combination of those non-stop responsibilities and an inherent millennial impatience collide frequently inside her mind.

Finally, imagine that whenever her frustration when her child will not feed, go to sleep, or cooperate and cries or screams to express upset in  any of those situations, crosses over into anger towards her child.

Feeling angry towards a child, especially a helpless infant, can trigger threatening feelings inside a mom, from overwhelm to resentment to guilt to shame at being non-loving and a bad mother.

When this happens, the shame and thoughts questioning if she should have had that child may be too upsetting to feel and instead such mothers may look for the least annoying action her husband – and dad of that child – might do and displace her shameful feelings into anger and then snap at him and away from feeling them towards her child.

If this sequence is unchecked, it can lead to a husband becoming frustrated at being used more as a verbal punching bag than a sounding board and he may then react with anger or possibly more frequently, just pull away in sullen silence.

If you recognize this pattern in your own family and marriage, what can you do about it?

At Michelangelo Mindset we have created something we call Michelangelo Parenting and when your children are over the age of seven, when they may be able to think conceptually, that you can include them in.

Our view at Michelangelo Mindset is that just as he saw the sculptures of Angels, David and the pietas inside blocks of marble and carved until he set them free, we believe that inside familial distress and frustration in parenting is a calmness, connectedness and lovingness.

A way for you to carve and set free those positive feelings as young parents and then as a family, is to do the following check in with each other every day, and if possible at 6 pm later on when you’re having dinner together (and which research consistently makes for a healthy family and mentally healthy children):

  • 1- What is one thing each of us felt upset about today?

  • 2- What did it immediately make each of us want to do (our immediate impulse)?

  • 3- What did each of us do?

  • 4- How did that turn out?

  • 5- What was a lesson we could take from that so we can handle such upsets better in the future? 

If you are one of those young mothers who can become highly self-critical at yourself for your impatience and unloving feelings towards your young children, be sure to share those thoughts and feelings with your husband/partner.

And if you are that husband/partner, be sure to reassure your wife/partner what a wonderful loving mother she is and that every mothers occasionally feel the way she does.

Over time, this will become an increasingly easy conversation to have because when a frustrated mom reaches out to her husband to share the upset she feels toward herself instead of blaming him for something, it will make it easier for him to empathize and be compassionate.

These five steps when done consistently can help everyone in a family develop and value one of the most important habits that can lead to happy and successful lives and that habit is self-restraint.