Is money the reason you’re childless?

Is money keeping you from having children? Check out this article.

In a Fox Business article, “Are Childless Millennials Harming the U.S. Economy?” writer Brittany De Lea looks at the trend for young Americans to either delay childbearing or decide not to do it at all. Birthrates have declined overall, and only 20 percent of young Americans questioned in a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey said that having children was very important to them.

Why? Money is a big issue. Everything costs so much these days, and college graduates are burdened by student loan debt. They don’t know if they can ever afford a house. How can they afford to have children? The article estimates it costs about $234,000 to raise a child from birth through age 18. That’s assuming the child is healthy and has no special needs.

Most couples need two incomes to pay the bills. The 1950s lifestyle where moms stayed home and the family could live on the father’s income sounds like a fairy tale now. Right?

In addition, people seem to be getting married later, which means they have less time to have children (if they feel the need to be married before they procreate). And then they look at the news and think: Should I bring a child into this messed-up world?

De Lea doesn’t mention second marriages where the partners are older and one may already be supporting children from a previous relationship, but obviously money is a factor there, too. A lot of us can testify to that.

If fewer children are born, De Lea cautions, we will have fewer workers, fewer people to keep the economy going, and fewer people to support programs like Social Security.

It’s a lot to think about. I have noticed that in most relationships, one partner is a lot more concerned about money than the other. I always figured we’d work things out, but my late husband worried about the money. And my dad, omg, he held the dollars so tight they squeaked. In your own relationships, is money one of the reasons you disagree about having children?

Please read the article. What do you think about all this? I’m well into menopause, but many of you are right in the age group the article is talking about. I would love to read your comments.

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Is childlessness the norm for millennials?

Dear readers:

In response to my request for ideas for the blog, I got this response from Crystal:

I would really like to see a post about childlessness being the defacto relationship situation for millennials. It says in the title in your blog “parenting is expected.” Well, for me and my experience, I would disagree with that statement. My family told me to wait to get married until 25, and I was expected to go to college and find a career path. I was asked at an early age, what do you want to be when you grow up? Not, how many children would you like to have?

When I got married my husband was still in school racking up an $80,000 student loan debt. He graduated and had every opportunity that he needed to have a career and have enough income to afford a comfortable lifestyle and be able to pay his student loans. Nevertheless, he used the student loans as an excuse to “wait” before having kids. I asked how long, and never got a straight answer. This is a huge topic in other blogs and forums I visit. Millennials can’t afford to have kids in many instances. They are waiting longer to have kids, or just not having them. Real estate debt, student loans, credit card debt, are putting stress on the family. And the kicker is this…no one seems to care. I was never asked about when I was going to have kids. My parents never pressured me to have kids. I even went to my friends who are the same age as me and tried to talk about it, and they were like it’s so hard to have kids, you know, but it’s OK for us to because we have relatives in town to help us. I was like wtf?

As I read Crystal’s comment, light bulbs lit up in my head. I am not a millennial, far from it. I grew up in the “Leave It to Beaver” era when all women were expected to become moms wearing aprons and baking cookies–or that was the illusion we were given to believe. Things have changed tremendously.

I had to look up the dates that define millennials. There are different definitions, but the most common is folks born between 1982 and 2002. They’re between 18 and 36 years old now. The older millennials are edging toward the end of their fertility.

I see exactly what Crystal is talking about in my friends’ children and the younger members of my family. They are marrying much later than we did and putting off having children for years if not forever. In the San Francisco Bay Area where I come from, nobody with an ordinary job can afford to buy a house. Rents are two or three times what I’m paying for my four-bedroom house in Oregon. Everything is ridiculously expensive. And student loans can dog a person forever. When you’re already struggling to get from one pay period to the next, how can anyone think about having children?

There is tremendous pressure for both men and women to get their education and establish their careers before starting their families, by which time it might be too late. Back in that different world where I grew up, the priorities were reversed for women. We were supposed to get married and have children. Whatever else we did was extra.

I’m not a millennial or even Gen-X. But I know that many of you readers do fall into those age groups. So let’s talk about it. Enlighten me. Where are you in the work-education-money-babies conundrum? What are the biggest challenges for your age group? Where do you see this heading?

I look forward to your comments.

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Read about it:

“Why are Millennials Putting Off Marriage? Let Me Count the Ways” by Gabriela Barkho, Washington Post, June 6, 2016

“Nine Ways Millennials are Approaching Marriage Differently from their Parents” by Shana Lebowitz, Business Insider, Nov. 19, 2017

“Young Americans are Killing Marriage” by Ben Steverman, Bloomberg, April 4, 2017