I am a proud millennial.
My favorite color is millennial pink. I enjoy artisanal coffee, reading BuzzFeed listicles about fashion from the ‘90s and the early aughts, going to therapy, lighting soy candles, and taking workout classes. I appreciate it when articles have “trigger warning” in the headline, and I believe safe spaces are absolutely necessary. I think every child should be told he or she is special and get a participation trophy. So, yeah. I’m a millennial through and through.
I recently wrote an article for Alma titled, “I’d Love to Have a Kid, But I’m a Broke Millennial.” It’s about how I’m an artist in an expensive city, and my husband and I are both not ready, financially, to have children. So we are waiting a little longer than I would have hoped, and will start trying for children when things become more stable.
After it was published, a Google alert popped up on my phone. A conservative news website, PJ Media, had published an article called, “Just Be Honest, Millennials, and Say You Don’t Want Kids” by Susan L.M. Goldberg. Goldberg took chunks from my piece and placed it within hers. She proceeded with the tired, typical millennial bashing. Here’s a snippet:
By now I’m plenty familiar with the money woes of millennials. “We’re buried by student debt!” “We can’t get jobs!” “How are we supposed to pay for new lives when we can’t pay for our own?” The whole financial argument is based on the presumption of responsibility. As in, “Look at how responsible I am, choosing not to have children until I can afford them!” Bull.
She then bullies and makes fun of me for my life choices. How nice!
Sure, they’d have kids, but man, that L.A. weather. Who can give up sunny skies for kids? Who can resign themselves to being a webmaster anywhere other than L.A.? Who can choose to prioritize kids over career goals? And the restaurants, oh the restaurants!
First of all… a webmaster? Who is a webmaster in this scenario?
Second, Goldberg’s argument is that millennials should move somewhere we do not enjoy, where we do not fit in, cannot go out to eat, and will not find a job in our field. We should become, say, a webmaster or a stay-at-home mother, which we do not want to do, live in Nebraska, where there are very few other Jews, and be completely miserable so that we can procreate.
I wonder what effect that would have on our kids, and on ourselves. If I gave up my career, my town, and my community to have children, don’t you think I’d be a little bitter? Just a tad?
Isn’t it unhealthy to sacrifice everything for your children? Parents are supposed to enjoy their lives, too.
It’s also sending the wrong message to your children. You tell them they can do whatever they want, follow their dreams, and run the world… unless they want to have kids themselves. Then they have to throw it all away for their future offspring.
Money, or the lack thereof, isn’t the governing force behind the decision to have a child. A willingness to put that child ahead of every other goal or personal preference (yes, even the average temperature) is what makes you choose to have a child.
Actually, yes, money is one of the top reasons why you can or cannot have a child. I’d say it’s right up there with ensuring that the parents are mentally stable.
If I had a child today, I would likely be forced to go on food stamps. I would not even be able to afford the hospital bill when I gave birth. I wouldn’t be able to send my kids to Jewish schools, which I would want to do, since they are $900 a month for pre-school and go up to more than $30,000 a year for high school. I do not want my kids to have student loan debt if they decide to go to college.
I want my kids to be raised in a nice place like Los Angeles, where there are plenty of Jews, where they can feel free to be themselves, where there is culture and yes, sunshine, and where we have friends and a support system. It is healthy here for us.
Goldberg ends her article with this:
Dear Millennials: You aren’t fooling anyone but yourselves. You’re just not ready for children. Perhaps you don’t think you ever will be. Or maybe you’re just too contented with yourself right now to bother with the idea of putting someone else’s life ahead of your own. Whatever your true motive is, stop masking it behind this sudden obsession with fiscal responsibility. If you truly cared about your finances, you wouldn’t have wasted so much money on a useless degree to begin with.
Her judgment is endless. Millennials are screwed before we even got to this stage of life. It’s not like we can go back in time and choose another degree. And… maybe we don’t want to? Maybe we wanted to enjoy college and our careers, just like we want to enjoy parenthood?
All of our lives, my fellow millennials and I have been told we’re special and to follow our dreams. So we did. And now you’re bashing us for doing exactly what you said was right for us?
There’s also the fact that baby boomers and other generations screwed up the system before we even entered it. The job market was awful when I graduated college in 2010.
Thankfully, I was able to find jobs here and there. I took odd gigs, I rented out my house to roommates and became an Airbnb host. I went around Brooklyn on trash night with my husband, collecting furniture that we could resell on Craigslist for more money. I work Sunday through Friday. I do whatever it takes to survive, just like my peers.
One commenter on Goldberg’s article wrote that millennials should stop spending money on coffee and avocado toast. For me, an artisanal coffee is one of my few luxuries in life. I don’t go to the movies or go on vacations or buy new clothes all the time. A nice coffee is a little treat to myself… the only one I can actually afford.
But what really bothers me the most is the judgment of someone’s very personal decision. People online are quick to tell you you’re wrong. They say, “I know what’s better for you than you do.” They take their very unique experience and try to say that everyone should be the same as them.
It’s like Donald Trump telling a black child in the inner city that it’s not so difficult to get a six-figure job. That if he just worked harder, he would succeed in life.
We all know that is a lie.
I hope Goldberg and all of the millennial bashers and internet bullies take a look at themselves and realize that they are simply pandering to their audience, and not at all making a difference or changing the minds of the people they love to attack.
If you really care, and want to convince me to have children right now, please help find me a really great job. Help me figure out how I can buy a house. Give me referrals for cheap education and affordable babysitters. Show me how I’m not completely screwed in this economy. Until then, I’m proudly waiting until I can responsibly have my first kid.