Issue 14 Motherhood

When Are You Having Kids?

It’s a common question women are asked when they’re at an age where they are expected by society to have settled down and start thinking about starting a family. There have been many Christmas dinners and family get-togethers where grandparents, parents, and the extended family have looked at me over their wine glasses and asked this very question.

For one, the question is an invasive one. Because of course, some women struggle with fertility issues and have tried and failed to become pregnant. But even if you’re not someone that has struggled with conception… if you’re just completely decided on the fact that you don’t want children? Why is it this seems such a shocking thing to have decided?

One in eleven childless Britons are concerned about overpopulation, and similar numbers are put off raising a family by the cost and impact on their lifestyle.

YouGove

When I was single, I didn’t have this question thrown at me as much. But as soon as I met my partner, and especially when we got married, the questioning became more intense. Talks of biological clocks ticking and being in the right stage of my career now to be able to provide a stable and loving home for a child. I found it all quite tiresome. 

Never once did my husband get asked the same question from his family members, colleagues, or friends. It’s assumed that because men don’t seem to have an age where their sperm functions expire, they are not the focus of the question. 

Of Britons who are not already parents, over a third (37%) say that they never want to have children, and a further 19% say they don’t want children any time soon, but acknowledge that they might change their minds.”

And when faced with our answer “We don’t want to have children … ever.” Every single person has smiled wryly, exchanged looks, and said “Ah okay, we’ll see. I’m sure you’ll change your mind. Just don’t leave it too late…” 

Analysing whether or not to have children is an increasingly prevalent Millennial and Gen Z concern. The UK birth rate hit an all-time low last year, and given the current situation with housebound parents struggling in lockdown, it does not exactly seem a desirable scenario for anyone on the fence when it comes to having kids.

Glamour

The issue here is something quite straightforward. Why do people think it is their right to comment or question our decision to not have children? Why is there a label immediately slapped onto childrenless women and why are women in particular vilified for choosing not to have children?

Once this [the decision not to have children] was considered insane or unnatural. Even today, it is viewed with suspicion – women with no desire to procreate say they sometimes face awkward questions and disapproval.

BBC

Not once do people stop and think about the number of children in the foster or adoption system. They don’t think about the fact that some people just can’t justify having children for the sake of it. Having a child just ‘because it’s expected of you’ is no reason to have a child, and having a child for that reason is completely wrong. 

Medical difficulties aside, while male childlessness is generally perceived as a decision, a woman’s is viewed as anything from a punishment (careerist ballbreaker), a mistake (stupid, disorganised), an enforced state (unable to hang on to a man) or all these things at once.

The Guardian

It has got to the point where enough is enough and people need to stop questioning people’s lifestyle choices. Especially when it comes to choosing not to have a baby. In the same way, the decision to not get married, or not to commit to having a pet, sometimes the responsible decision is to decide against it if you don’t feel you have the maternal instincts, the desire, or the ability to provide the right nurturing environment to bring a human into the world.

“We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies…. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever after’ for ourselves.” Jennifer Aniston

“I try not to listen to the shoulds or coulds, and try to get beyond expectations, peer pressure, or trying to please—and just listen. I believe all the answers are ultimately within us. When I answered those questions regarding having children, I realized that so much of the pressure I was feeling was from outside sources, and I knew I wasn’t ready to take that step into motherhood.” Kim Cattrall

Whatever your reason for not wanting to have a child, whether it is population concerns, not wanting to bring a child into the world as it currently is, or simply because you do not want a child without a solid reason as to why… it should be accepted and respected. Much like most lifestyle choices that people make, in their private lives and relationships. 

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