Deciding To Be Child-Free In A World Full Of Societal Norms
I have always been able to connect with children of all ages. Neighbours would happily leave their children in my care and I remember these two kids who always wanted to come and spend time with me. I have adored children, I realised, of my generation.
At the time of my wedding, most of my family members were beyond the age of 60. Over the span of our marriage, I realised how aging changed the routine of all these relatives, including both set of our parents. They had spent their entire lives running behind their children, making their lives better and now that I was married, I could see this very clearly. That was the first time I felt I couldn’t do this to myself - dedicating my entire life to a child, sacrificing my time and the activities I love, didn’t seem like a good idea. But it was too soon to talk about it, I thought.
Five years of marriage were clubbed with a lot of events in life. Events that subconsciously made me question our societal norms.
Soon, the husband and I moved out for better career opportunities and it gave us time to rediscover ourselves, as well each other. We absolutely enjoyed spending this time together. On most of our outings, we would come across children from the new generation and what would always catch my attention was the parents. They didn’t seem to have the slightest hint of happiness around the child, and I don’t remember my parents being this way. It was then that we spoke about children, how we detest the way the new generation parents are bringing up their children and how both of us don’t see ourselves doing that.
To be frank, I was absolutely relieved that we were on the same page. We couldn’t visualise being parents to a child who demands attention, time and resources (there, I said it) and without a guarantee of whether he/she will turn out to be a fairly decent person! Our generation is extremely different to that of our parents, everything has changed, which has led to the changes in the way we bring up our children. We couldn’t imagine going through that. Time and again, we would notice such children and their parents commenting about how tired or fed-up they are, and what we couldn’t understand is - why complain when you wanted to do this?
The Empty Nest Syndrome
Cut to the time when our parents experienced the ‘empty-nest syndrome’. And that was when it sealed the deal for me - I couldn’t be attached to somebody so much, that I wouldn’t know what to do with my life, except for making it revolve around my child. That bond of relying so much on somebody, scrutinising all my life decisions to be in sync with that of the child, being careful at every step, not being able to do certain things - it scares me. Yes, it does.
A Choice vs Norms
I am not ready yet to give up my freedom, my time, my senses to a little life that cannot do without all these things. I don’t want to bring a life into this world and not be able to give it all. I refuse to stick to societal norms to take this world, or our family forward. Because I don’t see myself there yet.
And the cliched question never escapes us, “What will you do when you’re old and need someone who can look after you?” Well, in the era of nuclear families, that’s not happening any which way, and this question doesn’t even make sense to me! Because I have a bucket list of activities planned with my husband separately for the phase when we grow old. And if it does come to missing that child, adoption is better. I would rather choose giving a chance to an orphan over having one of ‘my own blood’.
What Are Friends For? :D
For all those times that I miss children, I would rather visit my friends and cuddle theirs. Yes, familial pressures are taking off now that we are five years into the marriage, but I can’t give in for the sake of others. To make our parents or families happy, give them someone to spend their time with - is not how it works for me.
Before these reasons pulled me off the parent-wagon, I was always of the opinion that I can never take help of either set of parents in raising a child. I had a working mother and she brought us up fine without the help of our grandparents. Calling grandparents just to take care of the child, doesn’t work with me. And now that both set of parents try to sell us on this point - that you can be stress-free because we can help - it doesn’t make any difference to me.
So while I might be looked down upon for taking this decision, let me tell you, this doesn’t make me any less of a woman. And it is the stigma attached to motherhood that doesn’t let women speak their mind when it’s time to decide to have children, how late or whether to have them at all. And can we please move on from interfering in a couple’s life in general?
It’s time we change the way arranged marriages or love marriages come to a conclusion. Instead of finding out his/her favourite colour, discuss your opinions about finances, children and more relevant stuff that goes into a marriage. Trust me, it’ll take you a long way.
N*****Hi Preeti, while I respect your opinion I don't think I need to experience it on my own to decide to be child free. It is from the experience of others that I have learnt and that's a personal choice I have made :) If I had to experience it, I would have to reproduce anyway, which is what I'm avoiding! :D Thank you for the comment on my article :)
N*****Thank you Neha :) I completely understand your perspective on this too :)
N*****I respect your opinion Padmaja :) A few of my friends had children to avoid the talks in the society about 'when will you have children?'! While I respect their decision, my point is, it's a personal choice being pressurised under the societal norms. The reason to have children should be fair, not something that has just been followed in the society. Thank you for your comment :)
P*****Everyone has his or her view,all five fingers are not the same,parents have to take pains to nurture a child,no pain no gain,but parenting varies and every parent brings up the child in a different fashion,looking hassled doesn't mean they do not like it,nurturing a child is a laborious task but rewarding.Even if you keep a pet,it demands love,food etc but you experience the joy when the pet welcomes you.Don't make an opinion without experiencing it,having or not having is a choice but the reason behind not having is not correct.Think logically.
N*****It is indeed a very well written article of your choices. Having a child in our life is decision that the new generation parents make more consciously than older generation parents. Coming to the fact of tiredness, a lot of things around us exhausts us but we don't ignore them. Bringing up a child is like planting a plant. We nurture it with the hope that it will grow up strong. But, the complete nurturing is not in our hands, a lot depends on the surrounding also. But yes, we are the sole caregiver. Life is good, as u agree. And so, are children. Having a child do not kill the joy of life but it just takes a bit different route. Like fun and enjoyment changes with age and responsibilities. Once again this is my view and I completely respect yours. So, cheers and take care
J*****Life is a challenge and marriage child and so on r it's moves so accept the challenge and move on .
P*****Having a child or not doesnt make u more or less happier. Its a choice and its willingly made by many parents(not a choice made due to society pr so called societal pressure) and about guarantee of what they will be when they grow up is not something we decide right from the day we have them in our womb.children are not any investment plan that we make to get guaranteed returns😊 Raising children is tiring and u r right about it but its truly rewarding it its own way that cannot be explained , it can only be experienced. Finally with due respect to ur decision of not having child , I donot agree with the point that the new generation is any different from past or the new generation parents are doing anything dofferent from what our parents did. Apart from that its a nicely written article of opinion😊
N*****Thank you Anon :)