According to a recent study by the Institute for Family Studies, over one-quarter of millennials age 30 to 34 have yet to settle down and start a family. By comparison, only 13% of Baby Boomers were avoiding the family life at that age. With all the misconceptions already out there on Millennials it’s easy to imagine older generations putting a negative spin on this matter. If you don’t believe me, try typing “millennials are” into Google.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little tired of dealing with this shitty view of our generation, but I know that, like most things, the fact that we’re holding off on starting families will lead to some pretty condescending remarks. I refuse to just roll over and take it though, so these are some of my more positive ideas on why Millennials are no longer tying the knot as early.
The first idea that came to my mind when reading about this decline in marriage is the fact that Millennials are far less likely to identify with a religious group, and with that comes a more relaxed view on sex. In the world of Tinder, where a no-strings-attached hookup is a simple right-swipe away, it’s no longer necessary to “buy the whole cow to get the milk.” While members of older generations will see that as sleazy and immoral, a more casual view of sex means we’re able to explore (safely!) and really get to learn about ourselves and what we want from a sexual relationship without the pressure of a religious belief that strictly forbids it. People no longer feel the need to hitch up too soon just to get it in guilt-free, and because of that, divorce rates have been in decline for years.
All of the above-mentioned exploring is made possible, thankfully, by the availability of contraception, and the effectiveness of safe-sex education. Our generation wasn’t truly the first to have comprehensive sex-ed; earlier generations were given some sort of sex-ed in school but, in most cases it wasn’t very informative, and just very… uncomfortable. It wasn’t until after AIDS and HIV pandemic of the 80s that states banned together and passed mandates for actual safe-sex education to help stem the spread of STDs. That knowledge, with a plethora of birth control options, means Millennials are armed to the teeth against that fucking stork.
Now I know not everyone agrees, but easier access to birth control is a good thing, though it truly is a shame that most of these options are only available for women. There are existing contraceptive options for men and, hopefully, they’re picked up and sold by big pharma in the near future so the responsibility doesn’t fall solely on women. Also, more affordable non-daily options need to be made available to developing countries. That, along with the empowerment of women, is truly the answer to overpopulation, and needs to be a focus for the entire planet
As I said earlier, I fear how someone more closed-minded will view these family-starting figures and reinforce their already bleak view of Millennials. It’s easy to conjure up images of an entire generation slouched into their smartphones, too caught up in their digital world to acknowledge the real one around them. Men and woman selfishly too caught up in themselves to settle down and commit to another, but I think it shows that we’re a generation of visionaries. Our generation’s men and women are going out into the world and finding their own purpose. Not following a template that’s been fed to us. We’re working our asses off to learn skills that will help us navigate our murky future. We’re taking our time, and focusing on what truly makes us happy, not just settling for something that makes us content. We’re original, passionate, diverse, expressive, and most importantly we’re not afraid to make our own path.