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pets or parenthood

April 23, 2018, by Ryan O’Quinn


Often, millennials get a bad rap in the media sometimes being described as lazy, entitled and/or selfish. While such characteristics or personality traits are typically unique to individuals rather than the generation as a whole, maybe some stereotypes need to be reconsidered. Maybe this younger generation is actually smart not selfish. Why start a family when you’re still trying to figure things out? One truth is that this generation isn’t rushing into anything, especially parenthood.


Studies have shown that younger Americans are less likely to become parents, own a car, or become homeowners as compared to their predecessors. However, there is one category millennials do lead in: Pets. Millennials are adopting more pets: 35% as compared with 32% of Boomers. 57% percent of millennial households own a dog versus 51% of all U.S. households. And there are several different reasons behind why a large number of millennials are choosing to forego parenthood for pet ownership.


Money – While owning a cat or dog isn’t exactly cheap (estimates say that a small dog can cost you about $2,674 for the first year of raising), it’s significantly cheaper than raising a child. Estimates for raising one child inside a two-parent, middle-income household is between $12,800 and $14,970 annually depending on the child’s age. Millennials know how expensive it can be to raise a child these days and that’s one reason many choose to simply own pets instead.


Freedom – Although pets need lots of love and attention, supervision doesn’t have to be constant like with a child. It isn’t considered cruel or inhumane to leave your dog at home while you head off to work or out with friends. Kids need to be watched at all times and with a childcare price tag of about $720 to $2,230 per month, you can see why some millennials choose to opt for pets instead of children.


Practice – When couples commit to each other one of the first things they tend to do is move-in and get a dog or cat they can raise together. Raising pets can help committed couples who are either married or thinking of having a child in the future learn some basic parenting lessons. Couples can see how their partner may be as a parent and by raising a pet together, they can each get a small idea of what to expect when having a child.


Most millennials are at a phase in life where the thought of having a baby sounds too stressful or financially cumbersome. That makes having a pet an ideal decision. Furthermore, dogs and cats provide unconditional love that nurtures both mental and physical health. While some younger Americans may choose to have a pet over a child right now, many will still end up going down that path as they get older and more established.

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