The Next Generation of Parents

How Gen Z Is Creating Its Own Parenting Timeline and Outlook
June 16, 2023
Vincent Zhu
Nicholas Kim
min read

A significant majority of Gen Z is currently absorbed in the throes of young adulthood, forging careers, forming identities, and navigating the ebbs and flows of life. As of now, less than one in ten of us in the US are parents, and many are choosing to press the pause button on parenthood. As we grapple with the turbulence of our twenties, our views on parenting are still being shaped and refined. We’re observing, learning, and, above all, questioning the norms of yesteryears. 

A considerable number of us are either delaying having kids until later than previous generations, with some even consciously deciding not to have them at all. This isn’t a decision taken lightly but rather a reflection of the world we’ve grown up in, filled with economic uncertainty, societal change, and technological revolution. It’s also a testament to our desire for control over our reproductive choices and to have children, if at all, on our own terms. 

While Gen Z is largely only starting to navigate the path to parenthood, this shift is accelerating. Indeed, in just a few years, the majority of first-time parents in the US will be Gen Zers, bringing with us a profound potential to craft a parenting style that is as diverse, inclusive, introspective, and technologically advanced as we are. 

Should they choose to become parents, Gen Z is likely to harness technology extensively yet maintain a balanced approach, advocate for gender neutrality, promote open discussions about mental health, and foster meaningful virtual communities, differing considerably from past generations. In their distinct approach to parenting, they intend to redefine norms and incorporate more progressive practices.

Postponing parenting

In numbers unlike previous generations, Gen Z women are choosing to postpone having kids. This decision is driven by various factors, including a focus on career progression and personal fulfillment. 

They’re proactively exploring alternative ways to keep their options open to have kids later in lifelike egg-freezing, which has gained considerable popularity among almost 40% of Gen Z women. This is a staggering shift that calls for a range of innovative products and services catering to the unique needs and desires of Gen Z women, from fertility clinics and egg-freezing services to personal development resources and career support.

Approximately 27% of Gen Z women have expressed their intention not to have children. Mental health is a leading factor behind this decision, with two-thirds of those surveyed citing its influence. This inclination highlights our generation’s heightened awareness of the challenges associated with parenting, commitment to prioritizing our well-being, and rejection of the societal expectation that motherhood is a universal aspiration.

Redefining parenting paradigms: Tech, tolerance, and transparency

Gen Z is the most digitally native and diverse generation to date. We also talk more openly about mental health, identity, social justice, and diversity than any generation before us—a shift set to permeate our approach to parenting. We think this will mean Gen Z parenting will be characterized by community engagement, mental well-being, technological immersion, and an emphasis on diversity and inclusivity. 

Use A LOT of tech

The intersection of Gen Z’s formative years with the digital revolution makes them not just consumers of technology but also its native inhabitants. Gen Z has seamlessly merged their daily lives with technology, using it to answer health questions, pursue educational goals, and seek advice on virtually any topic. They’re comfortable navigating the digital landscape and leveraging its benefits. We think they will extend this technological adeptness into their parenting practices. With that comfort in merging technology with daily life, one can imagine the next generation of tech-savvy parents employing artificial intelligence (AI) as a co-parenting equal, not just a tool.

Additionally, the ease with which they can access a wealth of online resources and communities provides them with the opportunity to learn, share experiences, and gather diverse parenting advice at their fingertips. 

No-tech and low-tech parenting

However, their use of technology in parenting is not unrestricted. Gen Z parents are acutely aware of the need to balance digital convenience with the essential human elements of parenting. Over half of the teens today (Gen Z’s future parents) have found their own parents to be often distracted by their phones when trying to have a conversation with them and are worried about too much time spent on their phones themselves. They’ve felt the sting of “technoference,” where parents’ excessive use of digital devices interferes with their interactions with their children. For Gen Z, this phenomenon is personal. They are adept at leveraging technology for its benefits but are equally mindful of preserving genuine human connections, ensuring their children grow up in an environment that is technologically enriched yet humanly connected.

They’ve also witnessed the rise of mental health issues linked to excessive screen time and social media usage, likely to influence their approach to parenting in relation to their children’s online presence. Gen Z parents may choose to limit the amount of information shared about their children on social media, respecting their children’s privacy from an early age. This might involve keeping images and updates about their children minimal or making deliberate decisions about the types of moments they share publicly.

As a result, we believe Gen Z parents are expected to tread a fine line, leveraging technology’s conveniences while being mindful of fostering genuine human connections in their children’s lives. We think they are likely to enforce digital-free zones or times, encourage outdoor play, and prioritize face-to-face interactions to ensure their children develop strong social skills alongside digital literacy.

The inter-everything influence

The multicultural and diverse backgrounds of Gen Z are influenced by growing up in interfaith, interracial, and international households more than any previous generation and have the potential to shape their approach to parenting. We believe our ”inter-everything” mindset, characterized by a mix of cultural, racial, and religious influences, could make Gen Z’s parenting style more diverse and inclusive.

In terms of interfaith experiences, we think Gen Z parents are more likely to promote religious tolerance and spiritual exploration within their families. They may encourage their children to appreciate the wisdom of various religious traditions, fostering an environment of spiritual pluralism. This has the potential to create the need for new educational platforms that impart knowledge about various religious beliefs and practices, fostering tolerance and understanding. 

Gender-neutral parenting

In our view, Gen Z’s perspective on gender norms is particularly transformative, with a striking 59% agreeing that forms or online profiles should include gender options other than “man” and “woman.” Over half of Gen Z believe there are more than two genders, and their advocacy for diverse gender identities will likely translate into their parenting, enabling their children to explore and express their identities beyond the limitations traditionally imposed by binary gender roles. This could look like using they/them pronouns until the child is old enough to identify their gender, avoiding gendered clothing and toys, and encouraging children to explore a full range of emotions, activities, and opportunities, regardless of traditional gender expectations. 

Virtual parenting communities and support networks

Growing up, Gen Z has utilized online platforms to foster communities, exchange experiences, and glean insights from others, suggesting a transformative potential for future parenting strategies. We frequently found comfort and camaraderie in online spaces beyond their immediate family and friends—almost half of Gen Zers found community through social media platforms or video games. This ability to form supportive networks and engage with diverse perspectives online suggests Gen Z might take the communal approach more digital than any previous generation.

This knack for building supportive networks and engaging with a broad spectrum of perspectives can lead to a more inclusive and informed approach to parenting. We think this transition presents a chance to develop platforms that foster such online communities, parenting advice, experiences, and resources for Gen Z parents.

More mental health conversations

Gen Z has been at the forefront of advocating for mental health and open communication, with 70% of Gen Zers saying their mental health needs the most attention. These experiences have the potential to carry over to their parenting. Though they are the most anxious and depressed generation, Generation Z can take those lived experiences to promote a culture of emotional transparency within their families, encouraging their children to express their feelings freely and fostering a supportive and understanding family environment. We think Gen Z parents will most likely prioritize mental health and self-care within their families in a way that wasn’t accessible for them with parents who grew up in a time when mental health was more stigmatized. Much like Gen Z needs new mental health tools, they need tools to support that shift through their parenting journeys.

Breaking the mold and redefining parenting

Gen Z’s inclination to explore new parenting styles goes beyond merely rejecting traditional norms. This generation values personal expression and authenticity, and this extends to their parenting style. In our view, they don’t want to simply follow a prescribed set of rules or norms; instead, they want tools that allow them to create a parenting style that is true to their values and beliefs and that allows their children to express their individuality, whenever—and if ever—they decide to pursue that path.

In essence, Gen Z parents are likely to adopt a highly individualized approach to parenting, reflecting their own unique values and experiences. By incorporating elements of alternative lifestyles, they aim to create an inclusive, diverse, and nurturing environment that encourages their children to discover and express their unique identities.

If you’re a founder looking to contribute to this new parenting playbook, we’d love to hear from you.