It’s no secret that millennials have been dubbed the “selfish generation.” There are many attributes we possess that have given us this reputation. But the one that irks me the most is the fact that many of us are in no rush to settle down, with only 26 percent of us getting married between the ages of 18 and 32 and with the average woman having their first child at 26 years old. Somehow, this delay in starting a family makes us “selfish.”
How is it selfish to not want to have kids until we are much older — or even at all — if we don’t believe we will be good enough parents? To me, that’s selfless. My dreams are to graduate college, travel the world and write about my experiences.
This dream may be far fetched, and I don’t know where my money is going to come from, but for some reason when members of older generations hear my dreams, that isn’t their concern. Their concern is: “what about starting a family?”
I am in a very committed relationship that I see lasting long term, hopefully forever, but that doesn’t mean we should settle down and have kids next year.
My parents had me when they were in their mid twenties. In fact, my dad was my boyfriend’s age, 24, when I was born. However, my boyfriend and I are currently living with seven other people. I’m still in college. I can barely afford to pay utilities, and I’m not ready to stop partying or traveling anytime soon.
I have no regrets or animosity for the way I was raised, and I love my parents very much. Although, both my mom and dad have been divorced twice, they haven’t always had a stable income and weren’t quite ready to give up partying when I was young.
There is nothing wrong with those facts about them. It’s normal to fall out of love, to lose jobs or realize you want to change a career and go out until 2 a.m. when you’re young. Your 20s are spent figuring out who you are and who you want to be. So why would I want to bring a child into this lifestyle?
According to a study by Pew Research Center, only 60 percent of millennials were raised by both parents. Although, when millennials were asked what the most important priority was in their life, the top two results were “being a good parent” at 52 percent and “having a successful marriage” at 30 percent.
This proves that we intend on learning from our parent’s mistakes. I believe that’s why my generation doesn’t rush to get married, we want to make sure we get it right the first time.
According to the same study, just one in five millennials are currently married and just one in eight are married with children at home, half the proportions of baby boomers at the same age.
Travelling also has its benefits. According to CNN and a study by Angela Leung, an associate professor of psychology at Singapore Management University, traveling makes a person more creative, self-sufficient, a better problem-solver and have more perspective. These are all valuable life skills that many people from older generations only gain after they retire.
The traditional view is that a person works their whole life to save money, and after their kids have gone off to college, they use what’s left of their retirement fund to finally travel the world. But having those experiences before settling down can enrich a person’s life in the workforce and raising a family. Why wait?
Personally, I don’t know that I’ll ever want kids, but if I did eventually, I would want to bring them into a stable home, have a steady income so I could provide for them and be able to teach them about different cultures and lifestyles because I had travelled the world and learned those things first hand.