Every generation leaves their mark on the annuals of time and is forever immortalized by the contributions they leave behind. Unfortunately, if you had to put a label on Generation Y (people aged 18-35) and our impact on society, the words used to describe us aren’t the most flattering. Words like “lazy”, “narcissistic” and “twerking” tend to come up in conversation and if your parents are Baby Boomers like mine (people aged 49 – 67), you hear talk about our generation’s faults all the time – especially from our mothers. Most particularly about making them a mother-in-law and giving them some grandbabies.
At least once a month, I catch criticism from an opinionated “auntie” or friend of my mother about how behind I am comparatively to where she was at my age. “ I was married at 23…” is often thrown at me like I should feel immense shame because I’m no where close to matrimony and 23 was almost 2 years ago. Marriage is a popular topic surrounding us 20-somethings, but sadly this “when are you getting married” mentality seems to matter a lot more to those outside our generation than it does to us.
Statiscally, millennial women are not really feeling that whole marriage thing. Gone are the days of being married and/or pregnant in our early 20’s. If we are choosing to get married, it’s happening much later in our lives than when our parents said “I Do” and popping out kids is happening even later than that to the dismay of Grammie’s and Me-Ma’s everywhere.
The reason as to why our marriage and family goals are advancing at a slower rate than our mothers’ is rather simple: it’s a different world. Like a completely different world than what our mother’s had. Gen Y’ers are dealing with a multitude of complicated issues; the cost of education, the higher cost of living and a delay in starting our careers are concerns that have slowed down if not stopped our desire for holy matrimony and motherhood.
Our Baby Boomer mamas were hardworking women that made it at a time where their generation had job stability. They had reliable careers that may or may not have required a college education and were able to keep long-term employment that allows the average Baby Boomer to retire at age 65. We ain’t got it like that. Our generation has to have a college degree just to get a job and if you’re seeking a higher pay grade it is almost mandatory for us to go back to school to achieve a higher level of education; placing the average grad student at around age 32 with a balloon of student loan debt over our heads. And this is all before a baby is in the picture…
Back to the baby thing. It was fairly typical in the 1980’s and 1990’s for a woman to have had her 1st child in her mid 20’s. In 2014, the average American woman is starting her family closer to age 30. The decision to have children at that age, again relates back to stability. The average household in 2012 brought in around $50,000 and the income report for 2013 looks to be lower than that. The truly scary part is that the majority of Americans, especially those under 35 in Gen Y are somehow making it work with lower wages than the median income. The struggle to afford ourselves could be one of the most important factors in our decision to produce offspring. Simply put, Gen Y women are more inclined to begin the mommy and wife life when we have the means to support it.
Statistics aside, the decision to have or not have a family is personal and really shouldn’t even be up for discussion. There is no “right time” and the choice of when we’re ready to be about that life should solely come from a place when we are mentally and financially enabled, not when the old school thinks we should.
To our credit, our generation is a generation not like any other in history. A fickle economic environment combined with the rapid progression of technology and culture has created a lane that didn’t exist before us; thus forcing us to deal with issues that no one could have even seen coming. From where I’m standing, we’re revolutionaries in our own right and hustlers making it work. So, I’m sorry if I can’t ( or won’t) be able to make you a grandma before your 60th birthday, Ma. And if that makes me a narcissistic or lazy 25-year-old, that’s cool, too. I’ll be twerking my way into my 30’s and into a better lifestyle that (hopefully) I can afford.