Chicago — I became a father at an interesting time. It was in April 2023, as birth rates were projected to decline for the years to come all over the world.
It was also months before I read about a survey where 1 in 4 of those aged between 18 and 34 ruled out parenthood entirely. Even though the most common reason cited was that the younger generations “wanted time for themselves,” I wanted to understand whether some Gen Z in Chicago felt the same, or different, about starting families.
Mark Matthews, a 22-year-old Lincoln Park native, did.
“I have a nephew and I love him to death but I just couldn’t have my own,” he said. “It’s too much, especially for someone like me who likes to go out and hang with friends, not change diapers.”
Katheryn Kline, 27, felt the same, but for a different reason.
“I’m just trying to focus on my career right now,” she said. “I used to dream of having kids around 30, but now that I’m close I still can’t imagine. I still feel like a kid myself.”
Some survey respondents pointed to finances as a reason preventing them from having kids. That’s a reason that resonated the most with Zach, a 28-year-old from Hyde Park.
“Can you even imagine?” he said, laughing. “Rent is going up every year, inflation is out of control and then you throw in diapers, formula and taking care of another person? No thanks.”
Denise Dodson, 26, was the only one I spoke to who was open to starting a family.
“If it happens, it happens,” she said. “As long as I’m with the right person, we can get through it together.”
Noah Johnson (he/him/his) is a Chicago-based journalist. Follow him on Twitter: @noahwritestoo.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett