Good mentors are good listeners, we pray when we are asked and infrequently offer advise . We serve the younger generation by sharing time and showing interest in similar things. MOPs mentor moms already have something in common with the mother’s they serve, having been moms of preschoolers. But crossing over the generational gap can be difficult to a Mentor Mom of millennial generation.
Dr. Kneeland Brown, DeVoe School of Business Dean, has researched the millennial generation. His workshop, “Serving the Millennial Mom” at MomCon 2015 was very informative. He defined the last four generations ages as shown below.
I am an Gen Xer who mentors moms about 10-20 years younger than myself. I’ve been married for over 25 years and have a high schooler. The preschool years weren’t too long ago, but my life is different now with a teenager. I’m technologically savvy and find serving these moms to be a joy, but have to remember they do things differently than I did. (And they have cooler baby equipment now too)!
As you see by the graphic, the four generational groups have noticeable differences, especially when it comes to technology, communication, being social, and entertainment. Things have changed so quickly the last few decades it’s hard for mentors to grasp how communication works these days. At our house growing up, we only having a land line telephone, but now many new parents don’t have a land line and communicate soley on their cell phones or computers.
Being social could be spur of the moment for me when I was a new mom, but now mom’s calendars are busier and just a chat over coffee has to be scheduled. Communicating has become less personal with texting and instant messaging. People don’t like to talk on the phone as much (I also feel this way now); although speaking to someone is more effective and can be less construed. I imagine it feels very impersonal to a boomer mentor to communicate mostly via technology, especially finding their way around emoticons. I’ve had to look up text acronyms to understand the abbreviated way text is used by millennials (and my teenager.)
Another big difference has been entertainment related. Going to the movies and watching live tv with commercials has turned into bing-watching Netflix or streaming tv through an app on your computer. And can I say (from my soap box), the types of morals shown in film and tv has really changed since the silent generation. Sex, drugs, alcohol, nudity, language, and violence have to be rated and those ratings get looser with time. Our cultural differences are showing signs of moral decay making the generational gap more of a sink hole growing each day.
The truth, Dr. Brown suggested, is millennial women want to be encouraged as moms. Today’s mom fear not doing a good job mothering. So how can older women build up the younger mothers, when the way we go about things can seem so different. While we want to meet up, they don’t have to meet in person to feel assisted. Sending a text or verse via Facebook means a lot to a busy mom who doesn’t have the free time to meet up for coffee. I’ve received prayer requests via text and feel honored these moms have asked me to pray for them!
It seems, the moms who attend MOPs come wanting to connect right away and you don’t have to go through a long period of getting to know each other. They know we’ve been there and done that and maybe we have something we can offer in the way of praise, encouragement and definitely going before the Lord with their needs. Younger people make “friends” quickly on Facebook and start sharing personal things about themselves right away. Using technology to your advantage, you can get to know the moms at your table before you ever meet them by viewing their Facebook page, photos, comments and by what they share.
To meet our need of serving them in person, I recommend meeting the moms where they are. Attending the small groups of play dates to the park or special outings. Be with them as they are parenting their children through the day and not expecting a long adult conversation. Join them on a walk they have planned for their children at the park. Push the stroller and have mini conversations as the mom chases her preschooler. Invite them over but don’t take it personally if they don’t make it. They are busy keeping schedules for their children to be stimulated, eat well and get the rest they require. Afterall, they really are good mothers of preschoolers!