Millennials are supposed to be the “yes” generation. Got the new iPhone? For sure! Studying next year? May as well. Another selfie? Always, but parenthood…not so much.
A recent UK report identified the average new mum to be 30.3 years of age. With numbers skyrocketing for women over 40, fertility rates amongst women in their 20s hasn’t been this low since 1947.
Why the shift? Let me break it down for you.
1. No taboo
Honestly, this world is more concerned with being politically correct than politically stable (like Donald Trump, seriously?). And if anything positive’s come out of it, it’s a greater acceptance of people who choose to skip parenthood. The terms “shallow” and “selfish” are used far less in this context, especially regarding women, easing some of the social burden Millennials feel to procreate.
2. Greater options for over 40s
Let’s be real, fertility is basically an ageist bitch. She works in your favour as long as everything’s fresh and perky. But the older you are, the harder it is to start your own Brady Bunch. With science on your side, men and women over 40 experiencing fertility issues actually have a fighting chance of starting a family despite their age.
3. What about my career?!
This one’s a biggie. Also known as: “What the hell did I study for?!” 20-somethings tend to perceive parenthood as an ultimatum. It’s either a career or a child, never both. This is particularly true for women, who tend to consider having kids too early as a metaphorical dive off their feminist soapbox. Either way, diapers and ABC’s don’t seem to factor into the Millennial equation.
4. Too expensive
Everyone knows that from prenatal care and for the next 18 years (minimum), the costs of raising and educating a child are endless. Tack on the average student debt loan, expensive housing, labour market uncertainty and the rising cost of living and BAM! Much anxiety.
5. Let’s talk about sex, baby
Sexuality and the nature of relationships are no longer the perfect, cookie-cutter stories they once were. The media have shown the world a sexuality spectrum that pretty much includes every colour of the rainbow. And as Millennials engage in different sexual relationships, from transgender to pansexual, they’re building totally new family units that may exclude children. Besides, if young people truly are having less sex because the internet is just way more fun, then logically these figures make sense.
6. But I’m young and free…
Truthfully, children don’t fit every lifestyle. And for the majority of Millennials, their lives are characterized by fun and flexibility. Casual employment, temporary housing, sporadic financial stability…you get the picture. Probably not the best breeding ground for a child.
7. Don’t want to be crappy parents
Before we assume that all Millennials are self-centered and irresponsible, can we please acknowledge those who openly admit they’re not ready to be parents? In other words, young people understand that being a parent means sacrificing everything for a child, primarily making all the choices that will shape a human life. Though a healthy fear of failure actually means you’re probably being a great parent, some people just aren’t ready for that at such a young age.
8. Some just don’t like kids
There it is, the topic no one’s allowed to mention. Not everyone is magically equipped with perfect maternal instincts or an overwhelming desire to procreate and that’s okay. News flash: people who don’t want to be parents, shouldn’t have to be! I mean, every child deserves to be born to into a circumstance where they’re wanted, right?
It seems that while some Millennials are indeed opting out of parenthood, others have less of a choice and simply can’t have kids in the current social climate.
All of these other factors seem to be coated in society’s sticky preoccupation with judging others. Whether you’re becoming a mother at 62 years of age or choosing to forego parenthood in your 20s…who the hell cares?! It’s simply nobody’s else’s business.
That money you earned? No one can force you to spend it on childrearing. Your body is also your own. Do what you like with it. Oh, and that reproductive system? Yours as well. You’re not simply a wasted uterus if you forego having children.
Societal pressure is never a good enough reason to bring a child into the world. Not in your 20s, not in your 40s…not ever. So rather than forcing young people to be parents when they clearly aren’t ready, let them settle down and start families at their own pace. When they’re older, wiser and more stable, perhaps? And if that time never comes, so be it.
Image: Alex Jack
Adrianna is a 22-year-old journalism graduate who is never seen wandering the streets of Sydney sans coffee in hand. A self-confessed sugar addict, she is a lover of sweet treats, sweet words and even sweeter fashion finds. When she isn't hitting the gym or buried in a horror film of some sort, you'll definitely find her Instagramming at @adri_zapp.