Millennials are not the unfocused generation just out of college, spending their time eating avocado toast and living in their parents’ basement that many people paint them out to be. Well, some of them are, but most of them aren’t.
By definition, millennials are between the ages of 24 and 39 in the year 2020. For some, this isn’t very far removed from those first couples of years after college where travel and toast were funded by a side hustle. Today’s millennials may still have that side hustle, but they’re using the extra money to pay down crippling student loan debt and plan for a future family.
At 39, some of those millennials are well into their child-rearing years, and others are just approaching that period of life and wondering how they can manage. Don’t worry, this isn’t an uncommon fear. In fact, starting a family for a millennial can be downright terrifying.
Why Parenthood Is Scary for Millennials
First of all, starting a family can be scary for everyone. Millennials face some challenges that not every other generation encountered–at least not to the same degree.
A CNBC article states that 63% of millennials say they’re living paycheck to paycheck. You’ve heard the news and seen the stats; this generation is the first to enter adulthood in a worse financial position than their parents.
It was a perfect storm of financial proportions. College tuition skyrocketed, and the professional job pool started drying up in epic ways. Jobs don’t provide the benefits and healthcare they once did, and your already empty pockets are being tapped again.
That’s not even mentioning the rising cost of living and the expenses associated with having a child. When it comes to finances, there’s good reason to be wary.
The Maternal Ceiling
Considering the hard work that goes into getting an education and finally clawing their way into a great position with solid pay, many women simply don’t want to lose it.
The maternal ceiling is still a problem. Women face discrimination when they get pregnant because they’re taking maternity leave or want more flexible work schedules, and there’s a fear that their job performance will wane. A lot of women don’t want to give up their careers as they feel pressure to feel childbirth is the fast track to failure.
Add to that, studies that say people believe kids do better off with at least one parent at home. Is holding onto a career and raising kids selfish, or is it detrimental to the kids? It’s a difficult question to ask and even harder to answer honestly.
The Millennial Delay
Statistically, millennials are doing things later in life. In 1965 the typical American woman married at age 21, and men married at 23. By 2017, the ages had increased to 27 years old for women and 29.5 for men.
Unfortunately, that delay in marriage often relates to a delay in having children. For women, the older they get, the more risks are associated with childbirth. University of Rochester Medical Center spells out the pregnancy risks for both mother and child if the woman is over 30. Delaying the family decision leads to more potential for complications and expensive healthcare concerns.
In your parents’ or maybe your grandparents’ day, having kids was the norm. It was something you did and didn’t question. That’s totally changed.
The National Center of Health and Statistics noted the following changes in women of childbearing age who define themselves as childfree:
♦ 1982 – 2.4% of women were childless by choice
♦ 1990 – 4.3% of women reported being childless by choice
♦ 1995 – 6.6% of women report choosing a childless life
The Cassandra Report sums up the state of mind for millennials and, in a study, discovered that a third of the ones they interviewed didn’t want to become parents. That means fewer of their peers are having children, so millennials don’t have the same peer pressure, acceptance, or exposure to children that their parents had.
The Now Attitude
Millennials grew up in an age when putting the focus on enjoying and appreciating what you have was crucial. They were taught to live in the here and now and make the most of the moment. That’s great for the relationships they currently have, not so good for family planning because that’s a shift in a thought process that they weren’t raised with.
It also makes it harder to think about the future when you’re so busy living for the moment and appreciating what you have. What if you lose all of that if you have a family?
Waking Up To Wellness
Are kids in the cards for you, not in the plans, or are you still on the fence? If you’re a millennial, the unfortunate news is that it’s time to make that decision. You’ve hit that point in your life where you’re in those prime childbearing years.
The one thing to take comfort in is that it’s a terrifying process for everyone because it means a HUGE change in your life. It’ll never be the same again. That’s something to be scared of, and being fearful is okay. Sometimes fears are great because they define the problems you need to focus on overcoming.
The good news is that this big change can be and is for many people, the most wonderful thing that’s ever happened in their lives.