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I’m a Gen Z Woman. Here’s Why I Think Prioritizing Marriage and Family Is Important.

I’m a Gen Z Woman. Here’s Why I Think Prioritizing Marriage and Family Is Important.

“When I grow up, I want to be a mom.”

These are common words to hear from young girls; they aspire to be just like their own mothers.

But all of a sudden, once those young girls become women, those words become less and less common.

Has that maternal desire faded?

Perhaps. But might there be another explanation?

The question, “What do you want to do?” is a constant ask of every 18- to 22-year-old. College-aged adults like me are just beginning independent lives and discovering the world of opportunities while also discovering a culture of commendation or condemnation. Depending on where we go and what we do, others will either praise us or persecute us. And young adults know this. We can feel it every time someone asks us that question about our future plans.

If I were to respond to that question with “I want to get married and be a mom,” the average American would stare at me and blink. Then they’d probably say, “Right, but what do you want to do before that?”

This mindset is just one of the factors contributing to America’s declining birth rates. America’s birth rates reached a record low of 1.6 children per woman in 2023, below the necessary replacement rate of 2.1. The birth rate had been on a rise for the past two years, which many experts attribute to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the statistics now show the continued decline and the lowest rates since 1979.

This decline cannot be reduced to one factor. The cultural “success message” that delays marriage and family, however, should take some blame.

Last December, Statista reported on U.S. Census Bureau data showing that the average marrying age for men is 30.2 and for women is 28.4—a marked increase since the 1950s when men married around age 23 and women around age 20.

Along with getting married later, men and women are also having kids later. Twenty percent of women have their first child after the age of 35, according to a July 2022 article from the National Institute of Health’s News in Health. The article opens explaining why women may postpone starting a family: “There are many reasons you might wait to have kids. You may want to focus on your career. Or save some money first.”

These are some of the common arguments against getting married and starting a family at a young age. Shouldn’t young women like me first go to grad school, perhaps law school, or at least make a worthwhile living? Don’t we want to travel, let loose, and have fun?

Of course, all these reasons aren’t inherently wrong or even necessarily unwise, but the point is that people are starting families much later, and often putting off doing so for the sake of perceived personal accomplishment or enjoyment.

And therein lies the heart of the issue. The cultural sermon preaches “you first” to every young man and woman looking to start adult life. “Do what you want to do. Marriage and family will come later.”

But here’s the blunt truth: Marriage and family doesn’t just happen to someone. They take time and intentionality. Dating requires patience and thoughtful consideration before making a lifetime commitment to another person. Marriage requires self-sacrifice, a love that is rooted in commitment, not mere sentimental feeling. And a child demands that same self-sacrifice every minute of every day. Being a father or a mother means putting the child’s needs above your own. It means instruction, love, discipline, provision. These are exhausting responsibilities, and yet the most fulfilling. But sadly, the exhaustion and selflessness of parenting causes many to postpone the joys and blessings that overwhelmingly dominate.

On May 15, Evie Magazine posted an article on X highlighting actress Rachel McAdams as a mother. In the post on X, McAdams is quoted as saying that motherhood is the greatest thing she has ever done, despite years of living the independent dream.

“Your life is not your own anymore,” McAdams said. “But I had 39 years of me, I was sick of me. I was so happy to put the focus on some other person. I waited a long time. I’m having more fun being a mum than I’ve ever had. Everything about it is interesting and exciting and inspiring to me. Even the tough days — there’s something delightful about them.”

For McAdams, the famous actress lifestyle wasn’t satisfying. But motherhood was.

Even though women are still having kids—something that will hopefully never stop—many women aren’t doing so until much later in life, instead pursuing immediate self-fulfillment and enjoyment. Unfortunately, this mindset is also often imposed on a family. One kid is enough work already, so why would two exhausted parents have another?

Today, a family with more kids is stereotypically deemed Catholic in reference to the Catholic doctrine that opposes contraception. But maybe that family of seven just loves having a big family. One thing is for sure, though: That eldest child was born well before the mom turned 35. That mother wanted to prioritize being a wife and a mom.

So no, I’m not advocating for every 18-year-old woman to go get her MRS degree. But I am saying that prioritizing marriage and family isn’t a waste of time, energy, or money. In fact, it is an investment in a bright future of laughter and love. So don’t let anyone tell you to not get married and have kids—starting a family is likely the best decision you can ever make.

Image credit: Unsplash

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  • Avatar
    Matt Singer
    June 6, 2024, 3:50 pm

    If you wait till 35 to have kids you be draining your savings for college right when you should be getting reading for retirement (at least if you have at least 2 kids and they are not “Irish twins”

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  • Avatar
    Jake Brodsky
    June 6, 2024, 9:00 pm

    My wife and I waited until our early 30s to get married. We had three children. The last of the three is a senior at a state university. The other two are in the workforce, building their careers.

    Had we met at a younger age, I don't think we'd have been ready for marriage. It wasn't until I was nearly 30 years old when I saw the daycare children on a Halloween costume parade through in our office that I realized there was something missing from my life. I wanted a family. My wife was very much a tomboy when she was in her 20's. She was in to sports and travel. Neither of us were ready to settle down.

    But when the urge to settle and start a family happens, we were both ready. Parenting isn't for everyone. But we should encourage people to consider it, because sometimes it just takes a nudge. We need to counter the anti-family babble. We need to encourage people to raise the next generation, not just for themselves, but for all of us.

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  • Avatar
    Tionico
    June 7, 2024, 1:12 am

    I kniw a few dozen families that started their marriage and family in late teens and early wenties.Average size of family so far seems tobe about four or five, but many of them are just getting started. More importantly I know quite a few "older folks" who have had large families (8, 9, around there) and their chidlren are havng large families also. The ons not married yet as long are still low single digits, but their older siblings have six, eight, nine and they are at or nearing marriage. A couple families I know are five, six generations, and Thanksgiving celebrations bring around fifty people, most related. Now THAT is a fine time.

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  • Avatar
    Peter Quinby
    June 7, 2024, 4:34 am

    In the late 1960s, early 1970s UK I think we began to see the split. Some of my friends did not have children until their 30s, and some were dropping kids in our late teens/early 20s. My wife and I had 3 kids by the time I was 30 and she was 27. We were, by then, in NZ but I don't think that made a difference. In contrast many of my friends from the UK never even began to have children until their 30s. Fast forward many years and my son is a 50 year old with a 4 year old daughter. When he was 30 I used to say to him "when I were your age I'd married twice, emigrated twice, and had 3 kids" but I'm not sure he saw that as encouragement…

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  • Avatar
    Katy Dondre
    June 7, 2024, 11:16 am

    I made the decision in my early twenties not to have kids. People, especially women, should not be encouraged to have kids or not to have kids. This is truly a personal choice for every person.
    Not having kids has allowed me to help others more – I was a foster parent for 7 years.
    I am childless-by-choice and have never regretted my decision.

    REPLY

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