With crushing student debt and entering the workforce at one of the worst times in America’s economic history, many millennials are “behind schedule” when it comes to adult milestones. While most of our parents had gotten married, bought a home, and popped out a kid or three by their late twenties, most of us are still renting and swiping through Tinder with only the vague idea of settling down in the next few years. While we’ve delayed adulthood in this way, there’s one way we’re actually beating the generations that came before us: pet ownership.
While the thought of having kids would send most of us into a blind panic, around 75 percent of people in their thirties have elected to adopt a dog. Whether rescued or bought from a breeder, our generation would much rather spend time with a fur baby than an actual one. The reasoning behind this is simple: while we’re delaying fulfilling our social commitments to other humans, we can fill that void by adopting a pet, which requires less maintenance at a lower cost, which fits in perfectly with our lifestyle.
However, things may be starting to get a little bit out of control, as San Diego State University psychology professor Jean Twenge thinks that we’re actually starting to view our pets as replacements for children. The pet industry has grown three times since 1996 as millennials are starting to actually treat their pets as children. 17 percent of Americans purchased pet costumes last year, while 10 percent bought pet strollers. Honestly, that doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. If you don’t buy your pet a costume, what is he even going to wear on Halloween?
As a childless millennial who threw her dog a birthday party, complete with party hats and a homemade peanut butter and carrot cake, these stats aren’t as surprising as they should be. While kids make me squirm and the thought of getting pregnant raises my blood pressure so much that I insist on using two forms of birth control at all times, I couldn’t imagine life without my dog. I cuddle him, flood my social media feeds with pictures of him, and spend exorbitant amounts of money on high-end specialty dog products because he literally fills my heart with love. And why wouldn’t he? He’s potty trained, always happy to see me, and doesn’t talk back to me. Of course, I’ll treat him like a child, because he is MY child. While my parents had two kids at this point, I’m still getting out of credit card debt, so my until I get my life together, my perfect rescue puppy will fulfill my child-rearing needs just fine. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put on Fido’s socks and shoes because he needs to go for a walk. .
[via Washington Post]