The youngest millennials are on the cusp of adulthood this year, and they’re not in a hurry to settle down and have babies.
I’m 23 years old this year. My boyfriend and I have been together for two and a half years. I don’t think we would say we’re each others’ first loves. However, we are in a committed relationship with plans for the future. We’re hoping we’ll be financially stable in five years, and be able to get married then.
I think I first entertained the idea of being a mother when I turned 21. I thought it was something I’d like to pursue when I was older. It’s hard to picture myself in this role though, not because I don’t dream of having a family of my own someday, but because it seems so far in the future.
Parenthood may not spark joy
Parenthood brings great joy, but it is not without its struggles. Many of my peers already feel burnt out and overwhelmed in our 20s. It’s hard to imagine taking on the added responsibility of parenthood. We’d much rather be the cool aunt or uncle!
That’s not to say that all millennials won’t start families. Still it’s hard to deny that rising costs have affected our desire to start families. Add in housing loans, renovation costs, and wedding budgets, and it can seem more of a hassle than a step forward.
I think the biggest factor preventing me from becoming a mother in Singapore is that (to me) the financial responsibility of raising a child here is very high.
The future is childless?
A decade ago, it was the norm to start your own family once you turned 25. Earlier, even! Now, it’s hard to picture achieving that before we’re 30. There are so many more opportunities offered to us in our studies and careers, who could blame us for choosing to pursue those first?
Furthermore, even though most of us have entered adulthood, we are still perceived as a freewheeling generation with no clear direction. Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers see us as not interested in settling down, or more concerned about “finding ourselves”.
Millennials are also known to be non-traditionalists, with more of us choosing not to get married or have children. Most of my friends aren’t thinking about it. The only people (our age) we see with babies are often celebrities, and we know all too well that’s not our reality.
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Rather than see this as a decline in traditional Asian values, I think of it more that millennials are planning for what they really want.
Plus, living in this day and age, technology affords us more time. Age is not such a deterrent as it used to be. While a woman’s age still affects her fertility, she has options. More women are giving birth in their 40s. What was once a “scary” age to procreate is now becoming more normal. Some couples may even consider adopting or fostering children if pregnancy isn’t for them.
Parenting still inspiring though
I feel that motherhood is hard work, really. In Singapore, lots of mums juggle their career and motherhood, which I think is amazing. Even though I’m not a mum, they inspire me to see the world from a different point of view.
I feel that millennial mums are more open to learning about parenting and aren’t stuck in their ways. They’re more receptive to advice from experts or other mums too. Raising kids is hard work, and seeing how these mums juggle all their responsibilities motivates me to do better in my own life.
To me, the most important thing about being a mother is to be patient and understanding. If I do become a mother I think I would try my best to be an approachable one. I want my (future) kids to be able to talk to me about everything. I might be pretty strict, though!