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Being Childfree – It’s your choice

07 Feb 2017

Shallow. Selfish. Immature. Just some of the words that are often used to describe women who choose not to have children. Somehow, culturally, we have accepted that the role of a woman is to get married and have children. The pressure is immense and relentless. From the day a woman steps into the role of wife, everyone gets a free pass to ask about the arrival of babies. Parents, in-laws, that aunt no one likes, everyone feels they have a right to question something that is such an intensely personal choice.

Social conditioning has narrowed down the notion of family to couples with kids of their own. Anyone who chooses an alternative lifestyle faces the collective judgement of the majority, which refuses to accept differences in choices.

(If you are yourself struggling emotionally of which path in life you need to take and this is causing you distress, then ePsyClinic is the place!

JUST CLICK THE GREEN CHAT BUTTON AND TYPE YOUR MESSAGE TO BE CONNECTED TO AN EPSYCLINIC PSYCHOLOGIST)

What causes this judgment of women who choose to stay childless? Does it have its roots in jealousy? Are we resentful of the supposedly free lives they will live unencumbered by bringing up children? It is simplistic to believe that these women will live lives of no obligation just because they don’t have children.

They may focus on careers, personal passions or family. They may be the most involved aunts or cutting-edge scientists. With or without children women can lead full lives. In fact, the decision to have children should be one of the most well thought decisions a person takes. One should really want to have a child, not just have one because it is the “done” thing.

Children are a 24/7 responsibility for many years. There are no return dates or buy-back schemes with kids. A person has to be willing to change their lives forever if they have kids.

Is it then just our inability as a society to accept things outside of our own belief systems? Is it fear that drives us to believe that women without children are somehow lesser, or will become uncontrollable? At the end of the day, is it a question of control?

The reason most often cited to women to have babies is that their biological clock is ticking. In today’s day of great scientific advancements, women are having children much later than before. This argument no longer holds true. Moreover, with surrogacy and adoptions as viable options, women don’t need to listen to any tick-tock.

The next one that’s lobbed at women is the all-powerful maternal instinct. “Do you not have a maternal instinct?” “Don’t you want little babies of your own to hold?” All kinds of people feel entitled to coo these questions in your ears, as you play with your niece or just take a stroll in the park.

The answer is a resounding no. Just because we are women doesn’t automatically mean we all have a maternal instinct. Ritika*, has been married 10 years and has no children. She has a full life, with nieces and nephews she adores and two dogs who are her constant companions. She’s never felt the maternal instinct and is quite happy without children. Despite pressure from parents and in-laws, she and her husband have stuck to their decision and are much happier because of it.

Another common argument is that these people will not have the support of their children in their old age. This is such a vague argument. Who knows where life will lead us? Will we be there at all till our old age? Will we need care?

Will our children definitely be healthy and willing to take care of us? There are so many variables, that there’s no guarantee that having children ensures support in our old age.

Aparna* is a 50-something woman living in Delhi with her husband. She runs a café while he has retired from a government job. They make annual visits to their nieces and nephews around the country. In Delhi they have a close circle of friends and family. When her husband had a heart attack, her nephew who’s a doctor flew in while her friends helped with hospital duty. Not having children didn’t leave them unsupported and helpless. Family is the people we choose to love and who love us back—they don’t necessarily need to be born from us.

To have or not yo have children doesn’t make any woman greater or lesser than another. It is a choice just like any of the thousands of other choices we make for ourselves.

We may regret it like we do some of the other choices we make. But we may regret having or not having kids equally.

There are enough people with children who cannot stop talking about how they wish they hadn’t had them. It really boils down to deciding what is the best lifestyle choice for you, without fear of others’ judgment.

*Names changed for privacy

 

(If you are yourself struggling emotionally of which path in life you need to take and this is causing you distress, then ePsyClinic is the place! 

JUST CLICK THE GREEN CHAT BUTTON AND TYPE YOUR MESSAGE TO BE CONNECTED TO AN EPSYCLINIC PSYCHOLOGIST)

 


Tags: #NoMotherHood #MyChoice #