Gen Z, Millennials speak out on their reluctance to be parents

NEW YORK (AP) – At 24, L. Johnson decided not to have children, although she and her girlfriend have not ruled out adoption.

A graduate student working in legal services in Austin, Texas has a list of reasons not to give birth: the climate crisis and a genetic health issue among them.

“I don’t think he’s responsible for raising children in this world,” Johnson said. “There are already children who need a home. I don’t know what the world will be like in 20, 30, 40 years.

In fact, she is so confident that she will soon take the tube out. It is a precautionary decision sealed by the fall of Roe v. Wade and stricter restrictions on abortion services in her state and across the country.

Other women interviewed also cited climate change, as well as inflation, as the cause of huge student loans, as a reason they would never be parents. Some young people are also withdrawing and asking for more vasectomies.

Whatever the motivation, they play a role in dramatically lower birth rates in the United States.

According to a government report, the birth rate in the United States dropped 4% in 2020, the largest one-year decline in nearly 50 years. The government reported a 1% increase in births in the United States last year, but the number of babies born is still lower than before the coronavirus pandemic – nearly 86,000 fewer than in 2019.

Walter and Kya King live in the suburbs of Las Vegas. Walter, 29, sports data specialist, and university guidance counselor, 28, have been together for nearly 10 years over the past four years as a married couple. The realization that they didn’t want children came slowly for both of them.

“It was when I was twenty that the switch was flipped,” Kyah said. “We had moved to California and were really starting our adult life. I think we talked about having three children at the same time. But only with the economy and the state of the world and children in the world. Think about the logistics to carry it. This is exactly when we started having doubts.

Finances come first. Pre-tax, the two earn about $ 160,000, with about $ 120,000 in student loan debt for Kyah and about $ 5,000 for Walter. The couple said they would not be able to buy a house, or even afford the cost of a child, without making great sacrifices they are not ready to make.

But for Kyah, the decision goes beyond money.

“I think we’d be great parents, but the idea of ​​it going to our health system to give birth is really scary. Black women, black mothers, are not valued in the same way as white mothers. said Kyah, who is black.

When Kya’s IUD expires, Walter said he would consider a vasectomy, a procedure that increased in men under 30 during the pandemic.

Jordan Davidson interviewed over 300 people in December for a book called “So When Are You Kids?” The pandemic, he said, has delayed childbirth among those planning to have children.

“These timelines that people have created for themselves, I want to make X in three years, have changed. People aren’t necessarily ready to move the goal posts and say, OK, I want to achieve these results. I will do it. otherwise, ”she said. “People still want to travel. They still want to get a higher education. They still want to meet certain financial standards.

Davidson said fear of climate change has reinforced the idea of ​​living childless for many people.

“Now with the increase in fires, droughts, heat waves, it suddenly becomes real that, well, this is happening in my day, and what will it be like when my kids are in life?” He said.

In New York, 23-year-old Emily Shapiro, a copywriter for a drug advertising agency, earns $ 60,000 a year, stays home to save, and never wants to have children.

“They are sticky. I could never imagine having a baby covered in ice cream. I’m a bit germophobe. I don’t want to change diapers. If I had one, I wouldn’t want one until sixth place. Don’t be in orbit. I also think the physical Earth is not doing so well, so it would be unfair, “she said.

Among Jordan’s interviewees, environmental concerns were more prevalent in the youth group. Accessibility issues, she said, plague both millennials and Generation Z.

“There is a lot of fear of having children who will be worse off than they saw in childhood,” Davidson said.

Danny Lynn Murphy, who helps find software engineers for Google, said she was about 17 when she was kicked out of child protection services for a model of child abuse. His wife, he said, had grown up in an equally “unexceptional” environment.

“At some point we had to say yes to the children,” she said. “In my teens, in my early adulthood, I saw and understood the appeal and was drawn to the idea of ​​raising someone other than the one I had grown up. But the practical realities of a child suck.

Murphy makes around $ 103,000 annually with bonuses and stocks up to $ 300,000. His wife earns about $ 60,000 as a lawyer. He doesn’t have a home of his in Seattle.

“I don’t see myself involved, let alone a kid,” said Murphy, 28. “I think the main reason is financial. I’d rather spend that money on travel than half a million dollars to raise a child. Secondly, there is now the fear of treating our children like our mothers. The father took care of us.

Alyssa Persson, 31, grew up in the small town of South Dakota. You said that getting married and having children is rooted in the culture. It wasn’t until her divorce from her high school girlfriend that she stepped back and wondered what she really wanted from her life.

“Most women lose their identities in the maternity ward I come from,” said Persson, who now lives in St. Louis and earns about $ 47,000 a year as a college librarian.

Brings about $ 80,000 in student loan debt. Persson is a former teacher who loves children, but she feels she thinks more clearly than ever about the costs, implications and sacrifices of parenting.

He said, “Having kids is like a trap for me, to be clear.” “Financially, socially, emotionally, physically. And if ever there was a shadow of a doubt, the fact that I could not support myself comfortably on my salary made me completely pale at the thought. Enough to scare.


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