11/18/2015

'Babies? An impossible dream': the millennials priced out of parenthood


Has the recession created a generation too insecure to have children? Meet the people trapped in financial adolescence
Which rites of passage make an adult? Is it being able to live independently, without parental support? Having a stable career? Being married or making a lifelong commitment? Owning your own home? Or is it being responsible for the wellbeing of another human life – in other words, becoming a parent yourself?

These are the traditional markers of adulthood; of stability, responsibility and independence. From an early age, most of us grow up thinking that we will achieve some, if not all, of these things. But if you asked me, a 28-year-old woman, whether I fulfilled most of these criteria, you’d have to deduce that I am, essentially, living a prolonged adolescence.

I live in a shared, rented flat with my long-term boyfriend and another flatmate, where the rent will remain affordable only if the landlords decline to hike it again (last year we had a £300 a month increase). I have a freelance income that fluctuates wildly. I’m in no position to get a mortgage – not just in London, but anywhere in the UK (even if the latter were a possibility, I’d have to move to a part of the country where there is very little of the work I rely upon). Asking my parents for a deposit is not an option, nor is it for my boyfriend (and why should they give us money? I worry enough as it is about how they will get by in old age). As I approach my 30s, I can’t help worrying: what happens when I decide I want a baby?

The average age of British mothers hit 30 for the first time in 2013. This is often framed as a result of women “choosing” to focus on careers before they decide to have children. Very little has been said about those women – or, indeed, couples – who want to have children, but whose circumstances prevent them from doing so...more