gen z millennial concern affordable childcare

People often frame affordable childcare as a partisan issue, but the truth is Americans are not so divided when it comes to wanting affordable childcare.

As Motherly reported earlier this month, the United States is experiencing a childcare crisis that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are rightfully concerned about. Politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, are concerned because their constituents are concerned.

A new survey from Next100 and GenForward shows 72% of Gen Z and Millennials say a lack of quality, affordable childcare is a barrier to achieving their career goals and more than 8 in 10 (81%) say access to child care is important.

And it's not just those who identify as left-leaning, politically. The majority of Republicans surveyed (79%) agreed with the 86% of Democrats on the importance of affordable childcare. It also isn't only parents who feel this way: 76% of those who don't have kids consider affordable childcare important. In fact, the lack of affordable childcare is a factor in why some of these younger Americans are not parents. Almost nine out of 10 (87%) of those surveyed say the cost of childcare is an important factor when determining whether or not to become a parent.

This shouldn't be news in 2020.

Way back in 2013, Stewart D. Friedman, founding director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family, was among those ringing this alarm.

Friedman studied the attitudes of undergrads in 2012 and compared the answers to those given by undergrads in 1992. In 20 years, there was a remarkable difference in the future American college students could see for themselves.

As Friedman explained in a 2013 interview, "What just popped off the screen as we were looking at the initial findings was the result in response to the question, 'Do you plan to have or adopt children?' In 1992, 78% said, 'Yes.' In 2012, 42% said, 'Yes.'"

"The cost of child care is one of the factors causing young people to opt out of parenthood—and that's a problem," Friedman explained. "It's a problem that can be solved in terms of what the private sector can do, and what government can do to improve child care infrastructure and paid family leave."

In the years since Friedman called the United States childcare system "embarrassing" and "tragic" compared to systems in countries where early childhood education and care is heavily subsidized, little has been done to help young people see parenthood as a sustainable financial path. It's just gotten worse.

The Next100 and GenForward data shows 75% of Gen Z and Millennial women and 68% of Millennial and Gen Z men say "that the lack of access to affordable child care is a barrier to their professional success."

It's time for the United States to invest in the future by investing in childcare. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's recently released plan for lower cost childcare may appeal to some of these Gen Z and Millennial voters, but there are still many people in the United States who oppose federally-funded childcare schemes.

Last year, a Hill-HarrisX survey found 72% of registered voters 50 and older said day care costs should be paid by parents, not a federally funded universal childcare program or a subsidy that would halve costs.

But those voices may soon be drowned out by generations of parents and would-be parents who need support to care for the childcare that will inherit this nation.

Politicians at all levels and in all parties need to step up and listen to what these generations are saying. Or the next one may be much smaller.

They say necessity is the mother of invention—and nothing makes you more inventive than motherhood.

Sometimes that means fashioning a diaper out of paper towels and your older child's underpants (true story). Sometimes that means creating an innovative and life-changing weighted baby sleep sack and totally crushing it on Shark Tank. Tara Williams is the latter.

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One of our main goals as mothers is to encourage our children to learn, grow and play. They start out as our tiny, adorable babies who need us for everything, and somehow, before you know it, they grow into toddlers with ideas and opinions and desires of their own.

You may be hearing a lot more of "I do it!" or maybe they're pushing your hand away as a signal to let you know, I don't need your help, Mama. That's okay. They're just telling you they're ready for more independence. They want to be in charge of their bodies, and any little bit of control their lives and abilities allow.

So, instead of challenging your toddler's desire for autonomy, we found five of our favorite products to help encourage independence—and eliminate frustration in the process.

EKOBO Bamboo 4-piece kid set

EKOBO bamboo 4-piece kid set

This colorful set includes a plate, cup, bowl and spoon and is just right for your child's meal experience. Keep them in an easy-to-reach cabinet so they'll feel encouraged (and excited!) to get their own place setting each time they eat.


Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Puj PhillUp hangable kids cups

Before you know it, your little one will be asking (okay, maybe demanding) to fill their own water cups. This amazing 4-pack of cups attaches directly to the fridge (or any glass, metal, tile or fiberglass surface) making it easier for your child to grab a cup themselves. Just be sure a water pitcher or dispenser is nearby, and—boom!—one task off your plate.


Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

Wise Elk puzzle tower blocks

These beautiful blocks, made from sustainably-sourced wood and water-based, non-toxic, lead-free paint, will keep your little one focused on their creation while they're also busy working on their fine-motor skills. The puzzle design will encourage patience as your kiddo creates their own building, fitting one block in after the next.


Lorena Canals basket

Lorena Canals Basket

This *gorgeous* braided cotton basket is the perfect, accessible home for their blocks (and whatever else you want to hide away!) so your kiddo can grab them (and clean them up) whenever their heart desires.


BABYBJÖRN step stool

BABYBJ\u00d6RN Step Stool

Your kiddo might be ready to take on the world, but they might need an extra boost to do so—cue, a step stool! An easy-to-move lightweight stool is the must-have confidence-boosting tool you need in your home so your growing tot can reach, well... the world.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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