As society becomes more and more accepting of the fact that not everyone wants to be a parent, it’s no surprise that millennials are deferring parenthood. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the U.S. birth rate has dropped by 4% — one of the sharpest declines in a single year for the past 50 years.
Millennials are often stereotyped as being socially active and environmentally conscious. However, they are also known to be frugal. Many publications dubbed them as “the cheapest generation” for their reluctance to spend money on major purchases such as cars or homes. Because of this, and some other important reasons, they have been delaying childbirth longer than previous generations.
Today, few are exempt from the global economic crisis. From rank-and-file employees to C-suite executives and small businesses to large corporations, we all have to keep up.
Millennials know full well what a harsh economy is like, and they’ve learned to adapt. One of these adaptations is to forgo having kids. Although some may deem it selfish, others are on board with millennials who don’t want kids because it is simply uneconomical.
As the most educated generation in American history, most millennials know the price they have to pay — in the literal sense. It’s hard enough to make monthly payments to student loans long after graduation, let alone raise children.
Rather than swim in even more debt, millennials are choosing not to have kids. The dream of having a family with 2.5 kids and living in a nice house with a white picket fence would require living paycheck to paycheck for most millennials.
Mental Health Awareness
Millennials grew up astutely aware of the importance of mental health. They understand that mental illness is not something that can be brushed off. There’s much less of a stigma associated with people who are struggling as compared to previous decades.
With this awareness of mental health, millennials know that passing an illness on to their future children is also possible. Many feel no child deserves to live with what they do and prefer not to bring one into the world just to suffer.
Being environmentally conscious is a distinct characteristic of the millennial generation. So as not to further contribute to overcrowding, millennials are choosing not to add more people into the world. More individuals lead to an increase in carbon footprint, speeding up climate change.
Most millennials feel that it’s better to save our environment than have children to help the economy. It is this movement toward zero population growth that drives them to focus on innovating over repopulating.
For some millennials who struggle to conceive, they know very well how expensive fertility treatments can get. Rather than subject their bodies to the strain of rigorous medical procedures, it is easier to accept their limitations.
Millennials understand that infertility is not the end of the world. And, most women in this generation have happily reconsidered whether they even want kids in the first place. There are always other options to bearing children.
Toll of Pregnancy
And, speaking of how stressful fertility procedures can be, childbirth is even more strenuous and potentially life-threatening. Some millennials prefer not to subject their bodies to pregnancy and labor. Others are concerned about possible postpartum depression and the trauma of childbirth.
Millennials are aware of the impact of childbearing on physical and mental health. This is why more women (and their partners) are considering not going through with it.
Absence of Maternal Instinct
Some millennials feel anxious or awkward around children, which may signal a lack of maternal instinct on their part. There is nothing wrong with that, though. Women can love kids that are not their own and still feel complete.
It’s perfectly fine to be the cool, fun aunt or uncle to nieces and nephews. It is also rewarding to have a career that involves helping children.
The World Not Being a Nice Place
With higher education comes increased knowledge. And, the more knowledge individuals have about the world around them, the more aware they become that the world in which we live now is not exactly a nice place to raise children.
Millennials still believe in humanity — there’s no doubt about that. They’re just more careful about bringing kids into the world. If they can’t guarantee a safe place for their children, they might as well not raise them at all.
More Career Options
Because millennials are generally well-educated, they have more career options available. Having multiple diplomas in a chosen field can easily open doors for them, and it’s more difficult to thrive professionally with children to raise.
Some millennials feel that focusing on cultivating a chosen profession can be just as rewarding as having kids. By focusing on either one and not both, they can channel their energies and be better at what they do.
Some professionals have jobs that require frequent travel. Many companies network with other businesses on a global scale. And, although millennials are a tech-savvy generation, they regard physical presence as an important element of social interactions.
“Buy experiences, not things” is the mantra of millennials. If it’s not a job that requires them to travel, it’s their conscious choice to do so. They want to see the world, and that’s harder to do with kids.
For most millennials not wanting kids, it’s simply about breaking free from the status quo. They don’t feel the need to explain their life choices. Their lives are theirs to create, and they choose not to have children — just because.
This may be a head-scratching reason for some who don’t fully understand the millennial mentality, but it’s something worth considering. It can be truly liberating to decide on something you want or don’t want and not have to tell the whole world why.
It’s All About Respecting Choices
Whether the reason is physical, mental, financial, or professional, millennials have a right to their own choices. We have to keep the “to each his own” adage in mind and respect their decisions.
Some millennials don’t want kids, and that’s okay. So, let’s keep an open mind about how the unique culture and climate in which they were raised influence their life choices.