In the past, settling down and having children was the logical next step for young adults inching toward their thirties. However, in 2022, a surge of childless millennials has taken the US by storm, with many opting for pet parenthood instead.
News outlets have covered the craze, parents and grandparents continue to share their strong opinions, and even the Pope has put in his two cents. So, why are millennials favoring furry friends over traditional childbearing? Read on for an inside look into pet parents’ minds and the ever-growing fur baby frenzy.
Why millennials opt for fur babies
Whether senior mutts adopted from the pound or purebred English Cream Golden Retriever puppies, millennials are trading traditional parenting for pet parenthood. The trend of canines over children shows no signs of slowing. Some create social media pages solely for their fur babies, and others dedicate entire rooms for their fluffy companions—but why?
1. Financial worries
For older generations used to traditional values, the decision to forgo kids can be perplexing. However, before pestering your twenty-something child about having children, try to remember that times have changed drastically. Children are expensive—and many millennials simply cannot afford the steep price of raising a child.
Many in Generation Y are riddled with college debt, increasing living expenses, and a stagnant minimum wage, leaving them unable to support themselves, let alone a child. After all, children require a lifelong financial commitment— particularly during the early years— and childcare often costs more than a weekly paycheck in many states.
In fact, raising a child to age eighteen can cost almost $250,000, not including unexpected medical or college costs, which most parents help cover. Under the current economy and job market, many millennials feel increasingly burdened by economic setbacks lurking around every corner, leaving them unwilling to take the financial risk.
On the other hand, dog ownership requires significantly less, with varying costs to consider before getting a dog depending on breed, dog-related activities, and necessities. Though unexpected medical bills and health issues may arise, general upkeep and care for pets are still more manageable than for human babies. The most expensive cost on a pet parents list will be food and vet care, which you can reduce through discounts and pet insurance.
2. Career focus
Due to increased financial strain, many millennials have opted to focus on a career instead of raising children. Many can’t spare time for child-rearing between years of higher education, gaining work experience, and settling into a career.
However, many career-driven millennials have turned to pet parenthood to fill the void since dogs require significantly less attention than children. People with established careers often find it challenging to balance their time at work with time spent at home with their kids. Meanwhile, dogs can go for several hours unsupervised while their owners are hard at work.
The focus on careers over children is especially prevalent for millennial women. For decades women would step away from work to raise their children, leaving career ambition behind them. However, many millennial women have begun prioritizing financial success over childrearing, opting for puppies when baby fever inevitably hits.
Though raising a child is a beautiful, important aspect of life, most millennials would rather stick with a canine companion than rush into parenthood and risk potential harm.
Also read: Adorable Comments for Dogs
3. Time input
Although children are precious, there’s no question that they’re an enormous time commitment and financial obligation. While puppies still require training and attention, the average dog requires much less time than a child.
For example, pups can roam around or nap in a kennel for more extended periods without needing too much work. Children, however, need constant supervision and care to ensure their safety. Busy millennials rushing from obligation to obligation often feel they lack the time required to spend with a child.
That is not to say millennials will never have children. Many plan on bringing children into the world once they’re more settled and have time to commit. By waiting until they’re financially and personally stable, parents-to-be can afford childcare or even take leave to raise their children.
4. Prepping for parenthood
Another reason millennials are swapping babies for puppies is they feel unprepared for parenthood. Caring for a tiny human is a daunting task, with danger and parenting mistakes lurking around every corner. Though adopting a furry friend will be notably different than raising a child, many find pet ownership a helpful stepping stone to true parenthood.
For example, both dogs and children will require care, patience, and dedication to keep them safe and sound. Though pet ownership is far from a perfect representation of parenthood, the similarities may be helpful for parents-in-training. At the very least, you’ll be an expert at clean-up duty.
Whether you’re attempting to starve off baby fever or want a practice run before the real deal, adopting a dog can be the perfect solution.
5. Physical and mental health
Dogs are more than just funny, furry friends—they’re proven to have physical and mental health benefits of owning a dog, for their owners. Simply cuddling with a dog can spike your serotonin and dopamine levels, boosting your mood and filling you with joy. Plus, taking on the responsibility for another living thing can give owners down-in-the-dumps the energy boost and motivation they need.
Additionally, many millennials register their dogs as emotional support animals, aiding in reducing depression and anxiety. As a generation with growing mental health complications, a dog’s unconditional love and calming presence can significantly increase the quality of life for those struggling. Plus, pets can act as service animals for those with severe conditions and disabilities with a bit of additional training.
Alongside improving mental health, canine companions also motivate their owners to get up and move. While dogs don’t require undivided attention, they do need daily, stimulating exercise. Many owners opt for long walks or runs, keeping both them and their furry friends in tip-top shape.
Though pet ownership comes with its own set of stressful circumstances and unexpected challenges, it’s nothing compared to raising a child. Ultimately, the physical and mental benefits will outweigh any bumps in the road.
6. Less pressure
Frankly, day-to-day life and societal expectations are shifting rapidly. The stereotypical nuclear family is unrecognizable now, with less pressure to settle down early and have children. As the culture continuously deviates from tradition, many millennials feel less pressure to conform to expectations that may not be the best fit.
Regardless of whether millennials want children in the future or wish to abstain from parenthood, pet ownership is a way to experience paternal love in the meantime. Pet parents can share photos, create deep bonds, and shower their canine companions with love without the immense pressure of childbearing breathing over their shoulders.
At the end of the day, parenthood is a commitment one should enter into with careful consideration and without pressure. If millennials are happy and content caring for their furry friends, why rush to raise a child?
Also read: Comments for Cute Cats Pictures
Whether millennials are career-focused, financially unstable, or simply unprepared for parenthood, many find raising a child unattainable in today’s world. Fortunately, for those longing for paternal love without the responsibility of a human baby, a furry friend may be the perfect solution.