Millennials (those born in the early 80’s through the mid 90’s) are more likely to question what they were taught and to think beyond social norms. That’s one reason many millennials are embracing a lifestyle that doesn’t include kids. You can find childfree groups on Facebook and websites like Reddit. Unsurprisingly, a large number of members tend to be in their 20’s and early 30’s. Thanks to the internet and social media, childfree advocates are able to reach a new generation that is more receptive to what might be seen as an extreme viewpoint. A few reason the childfree-by-choice life is gaining traction:
Less Stigma, More Options
Today there is less stigma towards the childfree, especially in urban areas. Women in particular still feel pressure to wed and have kids by a certain age, but it’s not at the level it was decades ago. In the recent past, women without kids were called childless (implying they were missing something crucial) and were even pitied. Now, those who don’t procreate face less scrutiny.
The childfree-by-choice have become more outspoken in previous years, with the downsides of parenthood being openly explored. Even many parents can understand why one might choose the childfree lifestyle. People are realizing can be complete without kids and find fulfillment in other ways.
Millennials Weigh In:
“I’ve never enjoyed or wanted children, so it was more a choice of not going against my nature to bring an unwanted child into the world. I still thought about it intensely for a number of years, but could never bring myself to actually want it, at a visceral level,” explains 30-year-old Sarah K.
“I chose to be childfree because I don’t want the pressures and stresses of having kids and think pets are a better alternative,” says 21-year-old J.B.
Financial Reasons and Job Insecurity
It’s no secret that raising a kid costs a lot of money. The costs of raising a child take away from money that would otherwise be spent saving for retirement, traveling or building emergency savings. Previous generations enjoyed more job security and lower education costs. Now young people have to juggle student loans while the cost of living outpaces salary increases. Additionally, automation is quickly replacing many jobs that once provided well for families.
Millennials Weigh In:
“The cost of living has jumped dramatically from when my parents had kids and salaries have not followed suite. I don’t think you should have children until you are confident that you can maintain a secure financial footing. The expenses never decrease and frankly never end,” says 34-year-old Elizabeth C.
“I do know a lot of people who are holding off on having kids or are unsure for financial reasons. Many of us have a ton of student debt to pay off. The healthcare system in my country is a joke so on top of student loans people do not want to encourage more debt from the medical cost of having a kid,” says 26-year-old Grace M.
“The financial reason we don’t want kids is that we want to focus our time and energy on building wealth. We have a very comfortable upper-middle-class life right now, but frankly, we’ve always known we want to achieve financial freedom: not depending on jobs, able to buy everything materialistic we want, traveling the world, etc… And because neither one of us came from wealth, it naturally requires an immense amount of work and dedication from both of us to build up that wealth ourselves. Having kids would prevent us from fully dedicating our time and energy to do so,” explains P.B, age 29.
Overpopulation and Environmental Concerns
There is much concern for the environment, with recycling and other sustainable behaviors encouraged. Paper coffee cups and plastic bags are frowned upon, but having kids is still celebrated by most of society. However, the greatest thing one can do for the environment is to refrain from having biological children.
The earth’s population has gone from 1 billion in 1804 to over 7 billion today.* The world population is projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. Unfortunately, environmentalists often don’t address this issue for fear of alienating parents. Although environmentalism may not be the only reason an individual chooses not to have kids, many cite overpopulation and climate change as reasons for being childfree.
Millennials Weigh In:
“I am not having children for many reasons. There are too many of us. I’ve never wanted them,” says Alisha Burr, 35.
“The kid would have to make its place in work, school, wasting water, food and creating tons and tons of trash,” explains 30-year-old Pamela Galaviz.
“There are already more than enough. Any addition would only worsen the situation,” adds Suchi Smita.
What is antinatalism? Simply put, it’s a philosophy that assigns a negative value to birth. Antinatalists view procreation as immoral, since everyone born into the world is bound to suffer in some form. Those who subscribe to this philosophy aim to prevent suffering by preventing birth. If one does not exist, he or she cannot suffer.
Millennials are in a position to see all the problems of the world thanks to social media, while also having more options to prevent having kids than previous generations. Millennials grew up with 9/11, school shootings, terrorism, climate change, the Great Recession and a host of other problems. And unlike previous generations, they have been much more exposed to issues through greater media access.
Millennials Weigh In:
“I will not be reproducing due to the fact that I do not want to impose the blight of life onto someone, nor do I want to impose the existing beings on earth my offspring and the harm they will intentionally or unintentionally cause them,” says 22-year-old Amber Mattison.
“If you have any personal sense of morality and values you will dive into yourself a bit further and investigate what your honest intentions are. Remember however we are chemically driven to procreate a bit so you have to think past that and beyond what your parents want, what your coworkers think is “normal” and know that you have many options for love and a very exciting rich life,” states Amanda Calvert.
As demonstrated above, some childfree individuals simply don’t want kids while others have more specific reasons. In a world filled with baby showers, pregnancy photo shoots and elaborate gender reveals, it’s easy to see why the childfree may feel left out. However, by choosing a life without kids they often enjoy other things that those with kids can’t such as healthier savings accounts, hobbies and travel. Thanks to the millennial generation and those that follow, childfree may someday be the default choice and people will be asking parents why they chose to have kids.