The assumption that girls will grow into women, get married and have babies is all around us. It’s in the books we read and the films we see. It’s in the expectations of our culture, and it’s even encouraged by our modern political regime. We are conditioned from the moment we are born to have children. It’s our biological destiny, isn’t it?
But recently, studies have shown that there is an increase of men and women, particularly millenials, who are saying no to having children. Instead of living according to these expectations, these group of individuals are choosing to do otherwise. And they have pretty valid reasons for doing so.
The rising cost of raising children
The cost of having children has grown exponentially since the 1960s. And I must tell you, I can’t believe the data myself! Based on my research, a typical middle-class family in Australia spends an average of almost $300,000 to raise a child from birth to 17 years. And the figures are rising!
The sad thing though, is that even if childcare costs rose to 45% in just a span of 10 years since 2006, families are struggling with household income that just increased around 23%. You do the math. It simply doesn’t add up. And that is one big reason why some millenials are choosing not to have children.
It’s not even a question of resourcefulness. Despite being labeled as lazy and entitled, millenials actually have a valid reason for being fearful of their financial future. Faced with a slow economy, student loans and stagnant wages, you just have to respect their choice.
Millennials recognize the impact children have to the environment.
Children have one of the biggest negative factors on our planet with a massive carbon footprint. Based on a recent study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, “A US family who chooses to have one fewer child would provide the same level of emissions reductions as 684 teenagers who choose to adopt comprehensive recycling for the rest of their lives.”
And also seeing overpopulation as an issue that causing strain to the environment, a lot of millenials are expressing their choice not to have children. A growing online community of men and women called the #Birthstrike Movement is one of these. This support group chooses to be childfree because of the overpopulation crisis contributing to climate change.
Relationship Balance Issues
Another reason that millenials have for not choosing to have children is that they want to nurture the relationships that they already have. Because raising children need tremendous amounts of energy and time (and money!), some millenials fear that their relationship with their spouses, partners and even friends may get compromised because of children.
Women nowadays have more options
Millenials are currently considered the most educated generation. And this is especially good for the women. This goes to show that our culture is changing and that women have now more options aside from just rearing a family. They can get educated. They can have careers. They can run businesses.
I love that we are in a time and age where women’s contributions to our society are being regarded and given importance to. Our worth as women definitely not just dependent on our ability to bear children.
Despite the fact that more and more millenials are expressing their choice not to have children, this conversation still has a long way to go. I am sure that the subtle pressures of expectations from family and friends are still there. But this is a good start. We just need to educate everyone, most especially those close to us, about the reasons why we are choosing to be childfree.