As the result of a second marriage later in life, I am a mom of four very eclectic young adults. Our “kids” range in age from 25 through 34. My 30 year old recently sent me an article entitled “11 Brutally Honest Reasons Why Millennials Don’t Want Kids.” Not very subtle, but just a reminder not to count on her making me a grandma. Fortunately, we both love dogs so I can at least be assured of having a dog or two to spoil. There is the possibility of grandchildren from another daughter, but she’s finally having a grand time fixing up their new house, planning trips, and generally enjoying having some disposable income now that her husband is gainfully employed after finishing his PhD. It will be a few years at best.
I certainly understand why people don’t want to reproduce. When I was questioning if I wanted to start a family, I asked several of my fellow teachers who were parents if given the choice they would do it again. Most said no. I was surprised. I’d always loved being around kids and couldn’t imagine my life without being a mom. However, it is by far the hardest job I’ve ever done. Having a child should be a very well thought out decision. Before someone decides to attempt a pregnancy, here are a few things to think about first:
- Many young adults will spend years paying off their student loans. Older generations were rarely crippled by debt from student loans. Many young adults feel the need to go on to get advanced degrees and their parents may not be able to help pay the bills. This leaves them saddled with huge debt. Many are underemployed even with a Master’s or PhD.
- While everybody says their families are crazy, the fear of passing on mental health issues is real for many. Growing awareness of how many different conditions may be genetically passed gives many educated young adults pause. Do they really want to risk passing something on to another generation?
- There are just too many people already. So many of the world’s problems stem from overpopulation, too much waste and too much consumption of natural resources. Why add to that?
- Getting pregnant may not be so easy. As couples wait longer to conceive, more are having fertility issues. While new techniques may make pregnancy a possibility, the financial reality is that the costs involved may be beyond many couples’ reach.
- Pregnancy is less than appealing to many. The physical stresses of pregnancy are more than many women want to experience. Watching their peers struggle through morning sickness, develop stretch marks, waddle through their work day, posting their complaints and ultimately their birth videos on Facebook, sends terror through many potential parents. Before all this explicit information was available, many first time moms really didn’t know what to expect. Now every potential difficulty is graphically presented.
- They may be fearful that they will not be good parents. Nearly everybody wishes their parents had done things differently. Some had truly horrific parents and traumatic childhoods. Some people are afraid they will repeat the mistakes so hesitate taking on the responsibility.
- Many females don’t feel the urge to be moms. That’s much more OK now than in the past.
- World events make this world a scary place. Need I say more?
- After working hard at starting a career, fear of losing that momentum is a concern. Unfortunately, this can still be a reality. Your single or male coworkers keep moving up and you have to take time to give birth, go to doctor’s appointments, take a day when your child is sick etc.
- Children cramp your style. Unless you have the funds to hire help, your life will not be the same. Going to the store becomes more complicated let alone sleeping late, taking a vacation, having a relaxing meal or even doing pretty much everything you never thought much about doing without being interrupted.
- Sometimes no reason is a reason. Despite nagging parents, family members and annoying friends, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. It’s your decision.
Having said all that, my life would have been different in so many ways without my children, some better, some worse. Now that they are adults, I still feel their pain and sadness when something goes wrong but also get to share in their triumphs and joys.