It all seemed so simple growing up — “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage.” But nowhere in the popular rhyme is career mentioned and this is where we find many millennial women making a detour before pursuing family goals.
As a 27-year-old professional, I often feel as though I am still figuring out the world for myself and to have to do that for someone else right now seems a tad (read: extremely) overwhelming. Studies show I am not the only millennial woman who feels this way, as more and more women put their careers before motherhood.
I used to have the timeline most young girls had growing up: married by 24-ish and kids no later than 27, but wanting to pursue my career and entrepreneurial goals changed that. Just last week, while talking life goals with my significant other he mentioned having kids and I may have started to hyperventilate. My boyfriend, 32, is closer to being ready for a family than I am and sees managing a life with kids as very doable in the near future. I disagree.
He proceeds to tell me our “timelines are off” — insert more hyperventilation. A Pew Research Center report revealed that 58 percent of working millennial mothers feel families made it harder for them to get ahead in their careers while only 19 percent of millennial fathers felt the same way, which explains babe’s position. It should also be noted only 13 percent of millennial men said they expected to interrupt their careers for children versus 37% of women. Most men are not the ones who take on the grunt of the parental workload — or carry a growing fetus for nine months. Mothers are 27 percent more likely to quit their jobs to care for their children, while only 10 percent of men do the same.
Among my friends and family, I see more women speaking on the desire to have established careers and a successful financial foundation laid before considering children. And then there’s that thing called marriage most women still aspire to before kids. Luckily for us late baby-makers, studies show women who marry in their late twenties to early thirties are less likely to divorce (and earn about $18,000 more; kids are expensive).
My mother always taught me to be sure I could solely afford any investment (house, apartment, child, car) I made with my future husband in the event things don’t work out and I’m left with the bill. I believe now more than ever women want to be sure they can stand on their own two feet.
In the movie Eat, Pray, Love Viola Davis’ character says “…having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face, you kind of want to be fully committed.” I don’t have any tattoos or kids yet for that reason. Right now I am fully invested in the betterment of myself and my career. I know kids are definitely on the horizon, but for now my career comes first.
Should women feel guilty for putting their careers before kids?