According to government statistics, an increasing number of women from the millennial generation are opting out when it comes to having babies. Instead, it appears they’re finding an alternative more to their liking.
Why the trend for young couples becoming “child-free”? And what have they found to fill the void?
There’s an important distinction to be made between a “childless” couple that has no control whether or not they hear the pitter patter of little feet in their home, versus others who refer to themselves “child-free.” The latter is an intentional lifestyle choice not to have children.
There is a trend today of young adults making the choice to go child-free, substituting bottles and diapers with leashes, pet food and pooper scoopers. Yes, a growing number are choosing dogs and cats over children.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and reported by Quartz, document this is more than just a casual observation. CDC numbers show there has been a considerable decline of babies born to women between the ages of 15 and 29. It is paired with an enormous increase in ownership of small dogs among millennial women.
Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University said, “Pets are becoming a replacement for children.” Her research on the “the entitlement generation” has been published in a book called Generation Me.
Professor Twenge isn’t the only expert providing evidence of “puppy parenthood.” Nathan Richter with Wakefield Research explains that first-time parents prepare for their impending bundle of joy by reading books and consuming other available research. “That’s how millennials are approaching pet ownership,” he says.
Many Americans have made parenting a central focus and mission of their lives, so naturally they struggle with understanding the motivation behind willingly passing up one of life’s greatest blessings.
Sadly, a bulk of the evidence points to the narcissistic reputation of the millennial generation.
Kristen Wile, senior editor of Charlotte Magazine, penned her journey from wanting to be a stay-at-home mom by the time she was 30 to now choosing pets over babies. “They give us a greater purpose without making our lives mainly about theirs.” I was stunned by her self-centered transparency.
“Who needs children when research has shown that certain hormones that increase when we cuddle children also increase when we cuddle our pets,” read an online post on Pet Health & Safety.
Evidence of this growing trend is popping up in American society. The multiple Lucky Dog Bark & Brew locations in North Carolina provide not only a bar but also animal boarding, complete with a play area for large and small dogs. What aren’t allowed? Children.
Writing for creators.com, Dennis Prager believes that throughout civilization there had been three social realities driving the birth of children: a lack of contraception, the economic necessity for children to care for parents in old age, and religion. Prager points out that contraception has changed the way couples approach the act of sex; plus government entities like social security and welfare now care for senior citizens so children don’t have to. Finally, religion is a shadow of what it has been in the past – the one propelling force behind the values demanding children.
Couples should not feel forced or compelled to have children by those around them, just as parents with large families should be spared snide or biting remarks.
Perhaps those who have experienced the joys and blessings of children can by example, demonstrate reasons why young couples should carefully consider all their options. Just as animal lovers might show families without pets that shedding coats, marred wood floors and little piles dotting the back yard are small prices to pay for the joy animals bring.