Millennials — the “Child Free Movement” is not the answer

The Channels Opinion Pages | STAFF COLUMN

Delaney Smith, Features Editor

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Since I was little, I have dreamed of one day becoming a mother.

At 3 years old, my favorite pretend game involved rocking my dolls to sleep and feeding them with empty milk bottles. Today, I walk past mothers and their children on the street, smiling to myself, hoping that I’ll get that chance someday too.

I am starting to feel more alone in this dream, however. Fewer adults of my generation share my desire for parenthood and I think they are making a mistake.

The number of millennials who wish to be sterilized in their teens and 20’s is growing rapidly in a trend known as the “child free movement.” They are undergoing procedures such as tubal ligations and vasectomies that are typically meant for men and women who have already had children and don’t want any more.

Facebook groups such as The Childfree Choice and documentaries like BBC’s  “Young and Sterile: My Choice” further explore and promote this movement with millions of viewers tuning in, reading, and sharing their personal experiences being “child-free.”

Katelin, a 19 year old from Philadelphia, took part in the BBC documentary and was interviewed by Vice last year about her decision towards sterilization. At the time of the interview, she was actively saving money to get her fallopian tubes tied off.

“I honestly don’t like kids—they’re germ-y and annoying and gross,” she said. “I’m old enough to vote, play the lottery, drive, and go to jail—why can’t I decide I don’t want kids?

“I want time alone, time with my partner, and time to travel and spend money on luxury. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

Unfortunately, it has been shown time and time again that those who get sterilized young like Katelin oftentimes regret that decision later in life.

For example, a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information said that young men who have vasectomies in their twenties are 12.5 times as likely to have a reversal than older men. Oftentimes, vasectomy reversals are costly and end up being unsuccessful, especially when more than ten years have passed. The same is largely true for tubal ligations.

I see where my fellow millennials are coming from. We grew up differently than our parents. We come from a generation of divorced parents whose relationships didn’t survive the struggles of raising children. Who wants to endure the stress and unhappiness we witnessed our parents go through?

Despite the fact we are better educated, the social mobility level in America is also declining at an alarming rate. According to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life.

Although the future doesn’t seem so bright, it’s too late for us to change that. The answer does not involve throwing our hands up and permanently altering the human anatomy. The answer involves permanently altering the political war zone we call America.

I am going to raise a human being or two someday with the values that our parents neglected to instill in us. I am going to help raise the next generation of Americans who won’t have to worry about getting shot in their classroom or having tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Join me—because if not us, then who?

 

Addition: March 21, 2018:

Here are links to the statistical data I read before writing my piece:

Here are links to articles I read in other publications that have covered this as a trend/movement unique to millennials:

Here is a link to purchase a published book composed of a collection of opinionated essays on the same topic. Though these opinions differ from my own, they still share the right to be published, just as mine does. I read through some of these as well before publishing my personal opinion on the matter:

 

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