Ask a millennial if she’s having kids. Chances are she’ll say probably never — and her cohorts are following along with the trend. According to Millennial Childbearing and the Recession, between 2007 and 2012, birth rates among 20-something women declined more than 15%. The reasons are myriad. In 9 Brutally Real Reasons Why Millennials Refuse to Have Kids, Isabelle Kohn outlines the reasons millennials aren’t poppin’ out the babehs, including the world sucking, crushing debt, high rents, bad traffic, fear of fucking kids up with bad parenting, and a desire for careers. They also think pregnancy is gross.
As a fellow millennial, I agree the world kinda sucks (Donald Trump, anyone?). My husband and I stacked up student loan debt that soars over $100,000. Our traffic blows (if that’s actually a valid reason not to procreate), and pregnancy made me gain 50 pounds and then squirt a human being out of my vagina. And yes, I question daily whether or not I’m fucking up my kids. I still popped out three kids, and I’d have more if my health permitted it.
This tendency to eschew children is perfectionism at its worst.
Kids don’t actually cost that much.
Don’t let Babies”R”Us fool you — kids need a bare minimum of diapers, onesies, and boobs to survive. Splurge on a sling, though you can make one of them in a pinch. A kid can sleep in your bed, wear thrift store clothes, and read 10-cent thrift store books. Kids don’t care, really. You can even make your own cloth diapers, which is both cheap and eco-friendly. And you’re all about the environment, aren’t you?
The world has always kinda sucked.
In 3000 B.C., you worried about your kid getting eaten by cave bears, trampled by mammoths, or starving (mostly starving). In 1000, you worried your wheat crop would fail and your tyrant king would conscript your husband into his petty wars (or starving). In 1800, you worried your kid would keel over from any number of gruesome childhood diseases, which you’d treat using mercury or other heavy metals (or starving).
Taken in historical context, our world looks really, really good. Sure, climate change is a bummer and so is The Donald. But here in America, your kid won’t starve in the streets as long as you utilize basic social programs.
Consolidate your loans, and ask for a lower rate.
I pay 5 bucks a month. Five. My husband pays more because he has a real job, but it’s still far less than a car payment. I know they lied to you about loan debt being “good debt,” and everyone said you’d get an awesome job when you graduated. But then the recession happened, and it all went to hell. That sucked — it happened to me too. But advocate for yourself fiscally, and you’d be amazed what you can accomplish. (Unless you have private loans. Those people are fucking sharks, and I’m sorry.)
Pregnancy is beautiful.
No, really. You’re making a new life. If making a new life grosses you out, then you might want to talk to a psychiatrist about your crushing nihilism. And if a postpartum body disgusts you, you’re insulting every single one of your female ancestors and many of the women in America. Keep your tight belly. It’ll fall down anyway when you get old, and you probably won’t want to wear a crop top at 50, either.
Overpopulation is a myth.
No, really. As The New York Times says, “There is no environmental reason for people to go hungry now or in the future.” This is from a scientist who used to believe in the overpopulation myth, and who came to realize that humans adapt technologies to support more people.
So while you may save some carbon by not popping out a mini-me, you’re not solving some enormous overpopulation problem by eschewing childbearing. And if your “commitment to the environment is greater than [your] commitment to humanity,” you may want to look into that psychiatrist I mentioned to talk about your sense of disconnection and nihilism.
Of course you’ll ruin them with terrible parenting.
As the poet Philip Larkin says, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do.” There is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all bring our own special pathologies and neuroses to the task, and no child escapes unscathed. This is a job we all mess up. We succeed spectacularly, of course, but we all screw up royally in the process. Parenting means you plunge in anyway.
Forget everyone else treating babies as Instagram opportunities or infant mini-mes. They might do it, but you don’t have to. Embrace body positivity, and stop hating on the baby belly shelf.
Resign yourself to screwing up, and muster up some hope in the world. That’s what a child is, in the end — hope that the world will go on, better than before, and that you can have a small part in it.
Get out of your hipster jeans and into the bedroom. You got babies to make.