Each to Their Own

Birth2Work Curriculum Director, mother, grandmother

On a recent trip to visit my grandson, I found myself reveling in the many firsts that my son and his wife were experiencing as new parents. My grandson will be two years old in a few months and is saying many words now and trying new things for the first time. He squealed, “Nanna!” as he trotted in with a new book for us to read together. I feel so blessed to have this beautiful boy in my life and in our family. Being a grandmother is wonderful!

During the visit, another of my sons and his girlfriend came for dinner. We talked about our jobs and recent events in our lives. My grandson was in and out of our laps and playing nearby as we talked, so I asked my son if he was looking forward to being a parent. After a long pause he said, “No, I don’t think so.” As he saw the stunned look on my face he said, “Many millennials feel this way now.” Then he grinned. “But I suppose it’s still a possibility.”  

Excuse Me?

Although the subject changed and we had a lovely evening, I wanted to understand why more couples today are choosing not to have children. Information on the topic was easily found. Research has shown that over 20 percent of American women reach the end of their childbearing years without having a child, compared to 10 percent in the ’70s. According to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of babies born in the past few years was the lowest it has been in the last three decades.

Millennials reason that having children isn’t always financially feasible. Many couples in their 30s are still paying off college loans. They say that piling debt on top of debt makes no sense to them. Personal reasons given for no children were that communities are disappearing and are being replaced with sprawling metroplexes. Young couples are being priced out of housing markets by high appraisal values while the cost of renting is also rising. Or maybe they just don’t really feel they want to have a child, at least not enough to do so.

Family in all its forms

It’s been said that life rejuvenates itself and acquires energy when it multiplies! Perhaps the couples that I read about might benefit from such a rejuvenation. It may well be that the child-free movement is driven by the power of choice. We are all given free will to choose what works best in our own lives.

Whatever their reasons for not having a child, couples can live a happy life without children of their own. Most plan to play an active role in the lives of other people’s children and nieces and nephews. Children are a gift to be cherished and protected. They are a wonderful possibility!

If you plan to support and engage with children on a regular basis, remember that you are a role model in your actions and communication with them. Learn how you can be prepared and empowered to be a positive force in the life of a child with the Leading Your Child to Success course! 

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