Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bringing Up Baby

And defying the cultural norm:

"The majority of college graduates in their 20s in metropolitan regions postpone having kids until at least their 30s or never have any, according to recent demographic research. Like anyone who strays from the generational pack, college-educated parents in their 20s often face questions about friendships, careers and their place in life.
"Demographic data obtained by The Post indicate that in metro areas nationwide, including cities and suburbs, 13 percent of men and 31 percent of women ages 25 to 29 with four-year college degrees have had children, according to an analysis of 2000-06 social survey data from the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center. By contrast, 49 percent of men and 62 percent of women in that age group with less education have had children, according to the analysis by University of Maryland sociologist Steve Martin."

This is an astounding find. It has long been speculated that those with college degrees either postpone family life or never have children at all, but a 30% difference in the credentialed versus the non-credentialed is huge, and worrisome.
"New data from the National Center for Health Statistics also show that college-educated mothers are usually about 30 when they deliver their first child. "This is very significant data. It's giving numbers to a trend people have been only inferring," said Stephanie Coontz, director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families. The data, she said, show that "there is this increasing divergence of highly educated women and less-educated women."

There is also definite ostracization for those in their 20's who have families and kids, not only from their 20-something friends who are "going out", etc., but from other parents who tend to be a decade or two older.
"I still don't really feel like I am an adult. When I walk up to the day care with Emmett, I always feel like they are looking at me and thinking, 'Oh, she's the babysitter dropping off the kid, or whatever,' " said Amy Elliott, 28, a George Washington University law student whose son attends the Broadcasters' Child Development Center in Northwest Washington. "I look a lot younger, and I am not dressed professionally like they are."
But, as the article goes on to note, many of these 20-somethings with kids don't feel they are losing out on anything. In fact, most note that by the time they are in their mid-30's, their kids will be self-sufficient enough for the parents to work full-time on getting ahead in their careers (making partner, tenure, and so forth). This would be as opposed to parents in their mid-30's to mid-40's who are juggling diaper gyms, day care, and the like. In the end, when it comes to "postponement of careers" in order to have families, younger parents don't feel the trade off that parents before them did.

Regardless, it shows you how much child-rearing patterns have changed in just the last 50 years. If we were having this discussion in the 1950's, referring to a couple in their late 20's as "young parents" would have been laughable.

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