An email:The whole world is telling me that my time has come to finally do what all women are supposed to : have babies!!!

Sharing an email.

Dear IHM,

I have recently resigned and am planning to take a break from  my hectic and quite high profile job to do things I always wanted. Read, write, travel in trains across India, volunteer, play with my dog, stare at ceiling and ponder about meaning of life!! All those things which I dreamt of and couldn’t really do to satisfaction. I made decent money. My partner had taken a break 8 years ago and now is earning well enough for both of us to have a decent life till I decide to spring back, after which he might take a break again.

The point I am writing to you is, I noticed that the moment I announced my break, everybody I know started speculating about BABY!!!! Was I pregnant, was I planning to be pregnant, why wasn’t I planning to be pregnant now that my career was not a barrier? Did I think my dog was a lifelong substitute for my own baby? Was I not worried that the clock was ticking away and we would be left with a lonely life without kids? My god. I was  aware of these assumptions but they never felt so intrusive till they were made about me. It was as if taking a break to do these things was not good enough use of my time:):)

Anyway, so I started thinking about how in our culture women are always assumed to want to become mothers. We have never wanted children and feel very satisfied in our choices. That’s not to say that we never feel dissatisfied or worried or unhappy. Like everyone else, with kids or not: we also feel the modern urban blues. But never ever have we thought/ felt that children would be the answer for us. We always felt that a child is a tremendous responsibility and unless we really were ready to take it on, we would rather not do something just because our culture dictates that we are incomplete without one.

But increasingly as I approach the mid thirties, I have noticed that people associate baby with everything🙂🙂 I was quite down and out last year : Bang. my mother started telling me how not having baby makes women sad!! We got a dog. Bang : My friend told me how a dog could never be a substitute for a baby. (I didn’t have a heart of telling her, a new mother, that I infinitely preferred dogs over babies. I am crazy about dogs since I was a kid and could finally manage to get one: it never entered my head that I was somehow compensating for a baaabbbbyy). I am taking a break. Bang. The whole world is telling me that my time has come to finally do what all women are supposed to : have babies!!!

And this is quite liberal set of people I am talking about. I just shrug and forget since this is quite an irrelevant topic in our lives.  but this has led me to be interested in this whole phenomenon of child free.  I surf child free forums a lot and its great fun to see how people across cultures feel that having children is seen as a default in society. But they are primarily based out of US/ Europe.

I would be interested to know apna Indian thoughts on why do you think people always assume that women have to have babies to be complete? Or if they don’t there is something medically wrong with them? Or that they are too childish/ selfish/ irresponsible? (I mean people have children because they want to. So how not having children because one wants to be termed selfish)?  Do you think that women are somehow judged if they don’t want to be mothers? Unique Indian take by Unique Indian feminist blogger IHM please🙂🙂

Cheers
Happily child free

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77 thoughts on “An email:The whole world is telling me that my time has come to finally do what all women are supposed to : have babies!!!

  1. “(I mean people have children because they want to. So how not having children because one wants to be termed selfish)? ”

    The first part of that sentence is something the our people haven’t a clue about. For they’ve been producing not children but an “Insurance / pension” policy for old age. That is also the reason parents try to and unfortunately successfully have complete control over their children’s lives.

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  2. My folks thought I had some problems and that was planning to adopt later in life as even after 3 yrs of marriage I didn’t conceive.🙂 I don’t think even education and modernization has changed our Indian mentality in many such matters.

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  3. Dear Letter Writer,
    I totally agree with you and I live in India. I have a medical problem and so cannot have babies. We thought of adoption too, but somehow things did not proceed beyond filling forms and gathering documents. Believe me, the no.of documents and the procedure itself put us off.

    We are happy with ourselves and have never felt the need for a kid. Yes, sometimes it does become a topic of conversation, sometimes we feel sad that we should also have had a kid. But that feeling doesn’t last long. Sometimes we think what will happen to our house, car, etc after us or if something happened suddenly. But life has to go on.

    A kid is a HUGE responsibility (not that we can’t take responsibilities), but we have so got used to our life style of being just the 2 of us, doing what we want, when we want. Going out on weekends, planning things at the last minute, travelling etc. All this will change…life takes a FULL turn after kids. We have seen our friends who have no time for themselves. Others are ok juggling everything. Some are unhappy that they had their kids very early in life, some are happy they had kids early.

    Thankfully for me, family does not ask us about kids as we live separately. Few of my friends who couldn’t have kids have adopted and they are happy. So to each their own.

    People around us will keep asking questions, will force us to do things we are not ready for or things we don’t want. But at the end, its what you want and how you want your life to be. So don’t feel guilty and live your life the way you want-with or without kids.

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  4. I am Child-Free and very much happy.🙂 It is a choice I have made for personal reasons and no regrets at all. There are many people around me who either raise an eye brow or give a pitiable look thinking I am very unhappy or not complete enough. I do not bother to explain anymore.
    Society should let people make their own damn choices in life.

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  5. Well, mothers are always women, but not all women are mother-material (just as not all men are father-material). And it’s not as if the world’s short of babies anyway.🙂

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  6. Oh, the “its time you had a baby” talk! I would be ok having a child sometime in the not very distant future, now that I have finally got a tenure track job. What annoys me is the “well-meaning” advice – even from my mother. There is nothing i would like to discuss about my current child-free state, including any and all apprehensions of children and career- however she decided this time to begin the conversation with a “you can tell me anything”, not considering that I did not have anything to tell her. It was an interesting situation! I think it is mostly a lack of respect for privacy that is so ingrained that people ( family, friends etc) do not consider boundaries. And of course somehow having children is made out to be all that- despite the fact that everyone I know who has children only seems to complain about how they have no control over their lives- and let they are so happy- my husband and i were laughing the other day that they definitely should do a better job advertising it- because getting all “it changes your life and you never have any fun” and then wondering when we are having kids- kind of defeats the purpose. My strategy is biting sarcasm!

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  7. This topic is so close to my heart. I absolutely adore babies and kids and never thought of becoming a mother as a ‘choice’, I always saw it as an unavoidable phase in life. I love playing and interacting with kids but parenting is so much more than what meets the eye. As I witnessed so many friends becoming parents it dawned on me that this is not something I would like to experience. I am an awesome aunt but mothering a child would bring out the worst in me because it’s highly demanding and requires immense dedication for activities I am not interested in. It didnt happen overnight, it took me several years to finally conclude this and once I was ‘over the fence’ I felt at peace. I don’t think it’s selfish to be childfree, it’s being more ‘self-aware’, to know what you want from life. I get judged by my family and friends all the time but I take it with a pinch of salt, they want the best for me and they think having babies IS the best thing ever, their world starts and ends there. I used to be hurt and shocked by their reactions but now they just make me laugh. I am very happy with my life and look forward to all the lovely experiences instore for me in life. Being childfree opens up so many avenues, so many dreams and the ability and freedom to pursue those. It’s my life and I am going to make the most of it!🙂

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    • I understand what you mean. When I was in a relationship before, I took it for granted that we would marry and have babies and the whole set of typical things that follows–the kids’ school, college, jobs, marriage, the list is never ending. I am so glad that that relationship did not work out and I got a chance to explore things on my own and discover that there’s so much more to the world!

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  8. This post could not have come at a more opportune time. I am a 27 year old married Indian woman living in the US. I was married just a few months ago but have known my husband for long. My parents live in and Indian city and are both highly educated and are highly regarded by society at large. Nevertheless, they still strongly believe they can impose their decisions on their children. I just couldn’t believe when my mother called me last week and stated that I am getting OLD and need to start planning for kids. To say I was flabbergasted is an understatement. To say she was miffed at my rebuttal is another understatement. My husband and I have discussed kids and have decided that we don’t want to have any. We like children but believe having them and raising them is not something we see ourselves doing. However, we do agree that there is a slight future possibility that we might change our mind and have decided to reassess the situation when need be.

    What I don’t understand is all Indians I have come across are really shocked by our decision. It is assumed that women always want to get married and married people always want children; if not today, then in future. Moreover, we are labeled ‘selfish’ for not thinking about furthering the society and bringing up individuals that will change the world for the better! My thoughts on this:

    1. I consider myself and my husband as average individuals and don’t expect our children to be extraordinary. Aren’t we helping our planet by not bringing another person who will probably be a burden on the environment and economy? No, we are not vain enough to have kids just to see what our genetic mix would be like. What kind of parents will we be if we have kids out of pressure? Will we raise happy, responsible kids?

    2. All the people I personally know have had children to suit their own agendas or as results of accidents. A lot of my family members believe children bond parents together and parents will think twice before cheating or ending a marriage when there are children involved. Really? Do you need to produce another person(s) just to ensure you/your partner make your marriage last? If your children are the only reason why you are staying in a marriage, is that the right reason? Who is ‘selfish’ now?

    3. Having children is not (or shouldn’t be) a guarantee that someone will take care of you when you are old.

    4. Having children because of your biological clock ticking away or societal pressure or boredom does not make someone noble or selfless. Neither does it guarantee well thought out parenting methods.

    Simply put, my husband and I believe that people should only have kids when they really want to experience the joys of parenthood and look forward to responsibly raising another human being. It will be an interesting journey for us to explain and reason out our decision with family and friends.

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    • I can relate to this. We waited for 6 years after getting married, to have kids. During those years, I wanted to to get to know my husband better, to build a good foundation. I wanted to go to school, establish a career, do lots of things I know would be hard after the kids arrive. We were also not so sure about the whole parenting business. Do we really want kids, we asked ourselves many times. We decided to wait until we felt ready.

      All of the above reasons for waiting sent shock waves through my in-laws’ family. They felt betrayed. “We’ve never asked you for anything,” they said, “How can you do this to us?” I suppose, in our culture, people don’t see kids as being born to a couple, but as being part of the family tree. There is a sense of ownership over the kids from the husband’s side, and the mother is only a vehicle to keep the tree growing. Hopefully this mindset will start changing as more and more couples decide for themselves if and when they want to get married, and if and when they want to have kids.

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      • My in-laws have been very non-intrusive so far and I am really thankful for that. I guess ‘sacrifice’ is the keyword for most Indian parents. My parents did indeed sacrifice a lot for us. But why is that considered the epitome of virtue? –“We’ve never asked you for anything,” they said, “How can you do this to us?”– Wow, Indian parents do share a common vocabulary. Yeah mom, you did ask me not to go to that late night party. Yeah dad, you did ask me not to wear that shirt. Yeah, you guys did ask me not to be the kind of girl who spoke freely with boys. And yes, you were mightily disappointed that your daughter fell in love. Can we still call it sacrifice when it comes with a long list of expectations? I call it an unsustainable barter system.

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    • Loved your comment! And don’t get me started about the whole business of assuming that people will change for the better ‘after marriage’ or ‘after having kids’. They setting the stage for doom for two or more people if they assume that there’s something wrong with a person and that it will somehow go away with marriage or with kids. If a person is irresponsible, s/he will likely make a lousy spouse / parent. Very, very few people will actually step up and become better people upon entering into a relationship or becoming a parent.

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  9. Happily Child free,

    Great to know you know what you want. Most people go through life thinking they want certain things (kids, a certain career, etc.) but in reality those are things other people want for them. We are not taught in our culture to think about what we want, and sometimes end wasting half our lives pursuing the wrong things. So, you’re off to a great start – if you don’t want to have kids, then don’t. Do what makes you happy. Those of us who have kids (I do) aren’t doing the world a great favor or contributing to a leap in the evolution of humanity. I have kids because I wanted to. So, no you’re not being selfish.

    The only advice I have for you is – if you like being social and enjoy interacting with people, make sure you form some meaningful, long lasting friendships. By the time you are in your 30s, everyone around you will be talking about their kids and it can get annoying. I know how this feels because a close friend of mine chose to stay single, she’s in her 40s, and she finds it hard to meet people who are not constantly talking either about their spouse or kids. Connect with people who have a life and other interests beyond their kids.

    All the best.

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  10. once a girl get graduated the society starts the question.’ do you have any proposals? are you in love?when is your marriage? pressuring her to get marry.they will stop inquiring about marriage once the girl ties up.after marriage another question arise,within 3 months ‘are you pregnant?are you not?why?pressuring her to have the baby.in many cases girls do this just for the society…! i advice you to stop bothering the society…don’t live for them..start live for yourself….you must have the guts to overlook them.

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  11. Happily Child Free,

    It is your life. No one should question you if your husband and you wish not to have babies. I hope you will enjoy your break and do things that you wish to do.

    Why is it that in our society, women are considered ‘complete’ only when they have kids. Having a career, being ambitious, being adventurous is considered secondary to ‘motherood’ or ‘parenthood’. Why is it there so much pressure on married couple to give ‘good news’? To each their own. Why is it everybody’s business to ask married couples about having babies?

    In a Telugu movie, the hero tells the heroine ” When a woman is born, she gets 25 marks, when she attains puberty she gets 50 marks, when she gets married she gets 75 marks and when she becomes a mother she gets 100 marks”. What sort of logic is this? And this dialogue was so much appreciated by womenfolk themselves.

    Has anyone seen the recent advertisement on Sony Sab where in they show a cartoon with a voice saying how a woman named Rupali “ne ghar todne mein PhD praapt kar li” And when she sees a family watching Sab TV she reforms and then the voice over says “Situation ka Rupali par aisa asar chaya ki sherher waalon ne usko pati ki seva, bacchon ki dekh baal and saans ki paav dabaate huye dekha”. Now isnt this stereotyping? These things all around us and being such powerful media movies and television seem to promote such stereotyping.

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    • Disgusted by the Telugu movie dialog and don’t even want to talk about the SAB TV one. I stopped watching Indian TV soaps a long time ago because of all the bullshit they spout. Seems like Doordarshan did much better 25 years ago than what all of the new channels are doing now.

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  12. Whoa.. do as you wish lady.. its your life after all.. you have the right to chose what you want for yourself. You know in some cases advices starts before even getting married.. I am in my mid twenties and haven’t really decided about marriage..and now the thing that I am told is I should get married on time otherwise there will be problem in conceiving as the time passes… my family doesn’t understand that I will get married when I want to and when I am ready, have kids when I want to and when I am ready…

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  13. if your parents had thought similarly , you would not be writing here.
    each one onto his / her own
    if you adopt it is reasonable
    if you don’t aim for a biological child or even adopt , conclusions are obvious
    you want to enjoy life , utterly selfish

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    • I have never understood why people call child-free couples selfish. I mean the world is filled to the brim with people, it’s an extremely selfish decision to have another child and continue taking up resources. Less babies born, more stuff more me, heheh. Especially in a country like India! I joke with my friends sometimes that going to an Indian temple on a festival day is a perfect advert for birth control.
      And isn’t it selfish to want mini versions of yourself running around? Choosing not to have a child is a very selfless decision, in my opinion. What’s so selfish about wanting to enjoy life? Or would you prefer people to wander around being
      mopey? I plan to have kids, yeah, but I acknowledge that it is mainly for selfish purposes.

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    • ‘You want to enjoy life, utterly selfish.’

      Then what is one supposed to do with life? Mope around and generally be tragic? I have a child and I’m pretty happy I had one but my wish in life is to enjoy it as well. If you are going to see children as impediments to enjoyment and then have them anyway, it doesn’t make sense. Some people think children make life more enjoyable – those people have kids. Some people think children’s make life less enjoyable – those people needn’t have kids. It’s very simple, really. We’re all here to have a good time. Not to keep bleating about self-sacrifice.

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    • Hi Prema,

      For someone who doesn’t want kids: how could adoption be reasonable? Isn’t it unreasonable for both parents and the child?
      Also I don’t see logic behind your ‘obvious conclusions’. Why is enjoying life be called selfish? Whats the connection? Dont we all want to enjoy life? For some having kids is enjoying life, for some its other things.
      Having a child has nothing to do with ‘selflessness’ as other commentators ( who do have kids) have pointed out.

      What do you say?

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    • This is the silliest logic we come across .. if your parents have thought same . You know what I seriously feel and wish if many thousands of parents have thought like this so that at least few million people would have been less on earth . I haven’t done a technological breakthrough , not headed any revolutions and not going to do any serious economic reforms , so I dn’t see how earth would have suffered if I hadn’t been born.People who can’t see other people making choices and living life on their terms are insecure and Jealous . so stop calling people with no kids as selfish , they are responsible and independent people who refuse to live life that you chalked out for them .

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    • Boy, this one was a good laugh! To quote the ancient teenager argument: did any of us ask to be born? Anyone? Hello? Didn’t think so. According to my experience it’s the parents who want the child to be born, either because they want something to love or to continue the family line. So who is selfish here? Not someone who spares a kid the burden of being unwanted and reduces the amount of emotionally disturbed people in this world.

      Enjoying life is selfish? Welcome among the Puritans! According to this definition all enjoyment and happiness should be banished because it’s selfish. How dare anyone have a good time indeed in this unique life? *Sarcasm*
      As you said yourself, to each his or her own. So if you want/ have children and have no interest in enjoying your life, speak for yourself. It was your choice and is no reason whatsoever to feel morally superior.

      I have more respect for people who are honest about not wanting children than for those who have them out of pressure and then spend the rest of their life making the kids feel guilty for not “appreciating the sacrifices I brought for you”. Children shouldn’t be exploited as glue for the parents’ relationship or as continuation of a family line. Doing this to a child is, in my book, utterly selfish. And creepy.

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    • The word selfish, I don’t think it means what you think it means. I think the sentence would be more accurate if it read ‘you want to enjoy life, utterly smart.’

      I completely concur with the letter writer–smart and happy beats anything else, any day.

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    • Prema-

      Didnt understand your point about my parents decision with my email. Pls elaborate.

      If I dont want child- how is adoption reasonable?? I mean isnt it bad for the child ?

      How is it selfish to enjoy one’s life?? Those who have kids – what is selfless about them?? Dont people have kids wuen they want kids?? Want it- have it: doesnt sound very selfless to me.

      Your obvious conclusions are not so obvious if you consider that people have different ways of thinking. And respect it rather than judge it. Dont you think??

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    • What on earth is wrong with wanting to enjoy life? As for being selfish, aren’t people who bring children into the world solely for the sake of their lineage and to guarantee elder care selfish?

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    • “you want to enjoy life,utterly selfish” – why?? why is enjoying life considered selfish?if so then enjoying “parenthood” is also selfish? And is being selfish a crime? please do tell us your logic behind such a conclusion, bec I’m unable to wrap my mind around it.

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    • My parents had me simply because they desired a child, not because they were being unselfish or as a huge favor to this society or this world. All they cared about was how I fare in this rat race, they made me capable enough to sustain a good life. I am very grateful to them. They spend their entire youth in raising me, putting my needs before theirs, trying to remember that having me was their need so providing for me came hand in hand. Unknowingly they attached a never ending list of expectations from me. I don’t blame them, if I would spend my entire life doing something I would hope it’s fulfilling and worth while. It is the very act of parenting that is so demanding (whether it’s your own child or adopted) that it is impossible to not have expectations in return, we are all human’s after all.

      I have decided to not become a parent. I will not contribute in giving this society their future generation but I contribute in my own way to make this world a better place. Just because my path is different, just because I am not engrossed in raising a child doesnt make me selfish.

      Would Ratan Tata’s parents regret giving him birth? Oh but he was no parent, are you sure they would be proud? Would you be proud if your son/daughter becomes a some corrupt politician? What if he/she has children? even if they exploit the society they are raising children, such an ‘unselfish’ act.

      Lastly, to ‘enjoy life’ is not being selfish unless your enjoyment is at the cost of others. Strangely, as long as you give in to the pressure and let go of your own desires you are considered ‘normal’, if you don’t want what others want something is surely wrong with you!🙂

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    • readers..what is so hard to understand? Enjoying life is a big sin, an utterly selfish thing in india, especially for women. Women are born not to enjoy life but sacrifice life for other’s. women are epitome of patience/suffering/selflessness. taking some time for self is a selfish(sin), spending time with friends is selfish(sin), and ofcourse choosing not to have a child top the list…and the list never ends, sadly😦

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    • @prema
      This is the ‘family tree’ thinking. This is – telling the woman, you are not an individual. Never mind that you may have other things in life that you’re passionate about, that you want to pursue. You’d better do your part to keep the lineage going. Now, doesn’t THAT sound selfish?

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    • The world does not want your progeny, you do. Passing on one’s genes and having progeny is a very very selfish cause. If you didn’t have kids for a selfish reason, i.e. because you wanted them, then please explain what your self-righteous superior reason was?

      People who want kids and then have kids also do it to enjoy life, because they feel unhappy if they don’t have kids. So that’s basically what we are all trying to do. What’s wrong with it? Since you are against enjoyment though, I assume you have given up all worldly pleasures and live away from civilisation in the himalayas. How do you get internet up there?

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    • “if your parents had thought similarly , you would not be writing here.”
      NR: well…..my absence in this world would have not caused much (actually any) loss for the world😀
      “you want to enjoy life , utterly selfish”
      NR: So you mean people have kids to actually make life miserable? because if kids bring happiness to their lives means they decide to have kids to enjoy the life…..they are selfish according to your terminology…..please explain :O :O

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  14. I haven’t read the whole letter yet, but halfway through it I couldn’t resist the urge to jump in and say: Welcome to the club, sistah! I know a bunch of people who are married and do not intend to have kids and do not feel dissatisfied with such a life. Will comment more later.🙂

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    • “We always felt that a child is a tremendous responsibility and unless we really were ready to take it on, we would rather not do something just because our culture dictates that we are incomplete without one.”
      This is precisely what we feel. We also have two dogs and prefer them over having babies. We are also hurtling towards our mid-thirties… we seem to be living parallel lives🙂

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      • Thankfully for me, my mom completely accepts my decision… she may not understand fully, but she supports me because she identifies with the logic that unless we are ready for the responsibility, we shouldn’t have a baby just because the clock is ticking. My dad would like to have a grandchild, but he never pesters me about it. My FIL weighs in with his opinions only when asked, and lets us be. My MIL asked us quite a few times over the phone, and my husband simply told her to never bring up the topic, because he doesn’t see the point in giving any explanation. MIL did ask me very, very sweetly quite a few times, and one day I explained to her that we were simply not interested in having kids. She does bring up the topic once in a while, but I’ve learned to change it quickly or ignore it.

        Some day, if we do feel like rearing a child, we would happily adopt one or two of the millions of orphans in this world who need a family. We have no mental restriction such as wanting someone made of our own flesh and blood.

        That’s about the immediate family. As for the rest of the world, they can take a flying hike. We don’t even bother to explain to anyone.

        If someone pops the question, I contemplate several answers depending on my mood:
        ~ oh, we’re both carrying one each in our bulging bellies (that appears so thanks to the weight we have put on over the years)
        ~ well, we might have a problem, but it really works in our favor, coz we don’t want to reproduce
        ~ oh, you want good news? be patient, we’ll remember to put you on the to-inform list when we get pregnant
        ~ we’re too selfish–we want to have fun ourselves instead of slaving away for the kids (that they can easily accept)
        ~ we’re sacrificing our urges because we don’t want to add to our already overpopulated country
        Take your pick! If you want, I can help come up with nastier responses😉

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    • I’d like to add that I have a high regard for parents who do their job well, there are many instances that I read about on blogs and they inspire me even more. I will think of having a child only when I know that I will be able to put in that amount of effort and energy into bringing up responsible, well-adjusted adults. I do not want to bring up another moronic and insensitive person. If I am sure that I can see this through, I’ll go for it, otherwise, the world is still a better place with one less human being.

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  15. Let us stop this “If your parents thought so, you wouldn’t be here, if your parents did this, you wouldn’t have seen this or done that”. Her parents wanted to have kids – they did precisely that. She and her hubby doesn’t want to, that’s their CHOICE. It’s nothing to do with being selfish.

    No one can expect others to do the same things just because that is the routine. Some want to have kids, some don’t want to. Some want to get married, some don’t want to. Some want to study further after a UG, some don’t want to. Some want to work after a kid, some don’t want to. It’s each one’s choice in life and just because they take a different decision it does not mean they are selfish.

    You wanted to study a particular course in a particular college-It’s your choice.
    You want your kids to study in a particular school-Its your choice.
    You want to eat veg/non veg-Its your choice.
    You want to drive or not to learn driving-Its your choice
    You want to decide what is important for your life OR want to let others decide things for you-that is also your choice.

    When everything is done as per one’s choice, deciding to have kids or not is also a person’s wish and choice. Why should any one be bothered why the other person/couple are/or not having kids? Are we going to help them in bringing them up? It’s an individual’s choice and the way they want to live their life.

    Then, having love marriages also would be termed selfish, going away out of India and settling abroad while the parents live alone in India would also be selfish.

    I know a couple who could not have kids biologically, they tried IVF some 7-8 times and spent lacs of money. But they don’t want to adopt-are they being selfish? They don’t want to adopt a child-simple, their choice. I know a friend who went ahead with adoption just because everyone around her were having kids. Her husband was against it. They used to have fights regarding this and finally he gave in. So was she selfish in pressurising her husband into accepting something he did not want?

    People living abroad who call their old parents to live with them to look after their kid-because both have to go to work and can’t afford day care or a nanny..These old parents who can’t even take a walk out of the house, have to wait for the weekends to step out of the house, who were otherwise free and could do what they wanted in their hometown–can we call their children selfish? Who are we do decide? It’s their choice. Some grandparents refuse to come over to look after their grand kids as they want to be free and get the much needed rest in their old age—are they being selfish?

    These are private matters of a couple and they are the only ones who get to decide whether they want to have kids or not. It is this kind of mindset that needs to change.

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  16. Haha I feel as if I could have written this post myself. Only difference is that I am in my late twenties. And still the comments are just as bad.

    “Get pregnant within 6 months of marriage.”
    When they didn’t see that happening, they changed tactics.
    “Get pregnant within 1 year of marriage”. Even that didn’t happen.
    “Ok 1 year is over. Time for you to settle down.”
    Finally, when all else fails.
    “When on earth are you getting pregnant? Time is ticking by, you know!”

    When I told them I want to go for higher studies, which I know will be difficult to manage once kids come along, you should have seen the truckload of excuses that came my way
    “You can always have a child and then go for studies!” Yeah right!🙄
    “If not now then when? After 30, it will be difficult for you to conceive!” Errr…what?!
    And finally, the classic one:
    “We will look after your child while you go study”! Yeesh!!!😛 #facepalm!

    And this coming from my own parents!! The in-laws are actually more understanding! Talk about irony!😛

    Left to myself, I might have skipped having kids altogether. But now that I am with a partner who goes ga-ga over kids, I found myself thawing to the idea over time.

    I have never understood it is so wired into human tendency to expect women to want to be mothers. Why?? Sometimes you are just happy being by yourself. There is so much more to life than just kids! (No disrespect meant to kids or to their parents who manage them.)

    These days I have turned a deaf ear to my parents’ complains. I change the topic deliberately when this comes up. Because I have come to realise that they won’t understand my POV no matter what. Why should I listen to someone who never bothers to respect my perspective at all?

    If you are convinced about your own decisions, then forget about the rest of the world. They don’t pay your bills, clean your home or take care of you. It’s up to you to decide what would work for and what wouldn’t.

    Like

    • Yep! Even my maid tells me to at least have one! I’ll do everything for the kid, she says! I was like, you first attempt to manage your time well and get back home to look after your 5-year-old. And I ask my ILs and other relatives: Are you going to stay over when the baby cries through the night? Are you going to send the kid to school and pay for college? And when they mockingly answer yes, I say… then what’s preventing you from having the kid yourself. Gah!

      Like

  17. I love this post. When we got married I told my husband that I might not like to have kids. He said he would like to but will not force it on me because ultimately they would have to come out of me. After getting married I am sure I do not want to have kids. It’s annoying that random people ask me pop out kids for reasons as silly as MIL needs grand kids. I love to paint and each my work of art is my baby. I don’t think I can nurture anybody else the same way. They’ll only come in my way. As to Prerna yes I am selfish. I love to announce that I am selfish…that is much better than to be sacrificial lamb at the altar of Indian culture and live my life with resentments.

    Like

  18. This post is really apt for this time of my life. I am a 33 year old woman and have been married for 8 years now. We don’t have kids and somehow don’t feel that we want to have children. Everyone around us friends and family have either got a kid or producing another one.

    We get constant questions about giving a good news and when they don’t hear any we get various reactions. Random people have given me numbers of doctors that I can go to to get myself checked, people have prayed for me to have a baby, sympathized with me and secretly gloated about the fact that I am not a mother. And worst is where people have been so moved by my childless state that they have gone ahead to say that I can have their second baby if I want to (WTF). Close family and friends often tell me that I have full rights on their babies and their child is mine. I don’t think I give out any “I am so sad that I don’t have a baby vibe”. I have never discussed my childless state with anyone and people still feel the need to comment.

    Last year my mother in law told me in front of her friends that she will get her son married to someone else since I cannot have a baby. And all I did was just laugh because I am really not bothered by expectations that other people have from me or my womb.

    Mind you the husband and I love kids. As Priti mentioned above I am also a great aunt. I love kids and adore them but I don’t think I can go through the process myself. I have a full time job and a part time job, I live abroad so have no maids and cook all 3 meals as eating out is really expensive. My health is not the best and I have no energy left in me by the end of the day. I don’t think I would be able to give a child my complete devotion and attention and I don’t want my kid to be raised by my parents or worst his parents (I do not agree with their ideas of parenting and do not want to burden them in their old age).

    Parents tell me to have a child and give the baby to them to raise, which I will never do.

    There are so many situations that I encounter where I realize that in India your marriage is everyone’s business and being educated does not mean that you are a non judgmental person.

    Here are a few instances of friends telling me off for not having a kid:

    Friend 1 : Connecting with me on Facebook after a few years tells me he has a baby boy. When he hears I don’t have 1, he says “Still enjoying life?”. Now I don’t get what is the connection between not having a kid and enjoying a life. Is he telling me that I will stop enjoying life if I have kids?

    Friend 2 – “Stop running behind money and have a baby now”. Is he telling me that if I get pregnant I don’t need money? And people who have kids don’t need money?

    Friend 3 – “You will feel sorry when you are old”. What is the connection between having a kid and feeling sorry in my old age? Is my child my insurance policy for my old age?

    Friend 4 – Had a baby boy after 3 years of marriage because she was desperate and now tells everyone she knows how frustrated she is with her child and she wishes she had a girl and calls her 2 year old “Bewkoof” and hits him when he does any mischief. Is this how we are supposed to treat our kids when they are born? By beating them and also by calling them names.

    Friend 5 – Is depressed as his wife refuses to sleep with him now that they have a baby. He feels unloved, unwanted and ignored in the marriage since the baby has taken priority over everything else and is now looking for sex actively out of the marriage.

    Friend 6 – Doesn’t let her children out of her sight even for a minute because the world is such a bad place and she constantly worries that something might happen to them. This has resulted in her kids being so clingy that they cry even when she goes to the toilet.

    I am sorry about the long winded response but this is me almost emptying my heart, when I see people pestering me to have kids I realize that their when their own agenda of having a child is completely messed up.

    So dear letter writer don’t stress you are not the only one, there are a few of us in the same boat as you are. Have a kid only if you feel the need to have one and can give the child your time, attention and love. Do not get forced into producing a child for the family because at the end of the day you will be responsible for the kid not them.

    Like

  19. Whatever be the decision AND whenever it is, the choice is solely of the couple ie the husband and the wife. Others just say it, I think as it is sociially correct in the Indian Society…

    Like

  20. Dear letter writer–children require an insane amount of commitment and effort. It’s definitely okay to not want to have them (for whatever reason). There’s nothing selfish about not wanting to have children.

    I’m 28 and got married about a year ago. Every time I say ‘I’m not drinking tonight’ I get the ‘oooh maybe they’re trying to have a kid’ look (though no one says anything). A maid once asked me when we were having kids. I told her kids are a headache, so maybe we’ll get another cat instead. She never asked the question again.

    Like

  21. For those who claim that ‘when you have one of your own, you will love being a parent’ this honest confession is an eye opener. Please read this with a open mind. This letter has taken the world by storm, it is the consequence of what happens when one is forced into being a parent. I admire her courage to confess this but feel sorry for the children who grew up with a mom who provided for them but never really loved being a mother. So being an able provider doesnt make you a good prospective parent, it has to come from the heart.

    I can truely understand when she says that she loves her children but doesnt love being their mother.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2303588/The-mother-says-having-children-biggest-regret-life.html#ixzz2PuPJefdS

    Like

  22. On a related note; why having babies means they are on family way/ starting family?. Didn’t the family start when two people decided to commit to each other and live together?. How my child free friend’s family is any less ‘family’ compared to mine with kids? It always piss me off!

    And this family way talk is common in media(western and non western), all socities( rural/urban), all class( educated/non educated). it pisses me even more..sigh

    Like

    • We attended a party where a friend of the couple who were hosting took up the job of taking pictures. After taking general/natural pics he approached the guests one by one and asked them to pose with their family so he would take a quick family pic. When he came to my hubby and me, he looked confused when we told him ‘this is our family’ as an answer to his question, ‘where is your family?’ . When we clarified, he looked sad, then awkward and then gave us a look filled with pity and asked ‘no kids, just couple? sooo sorry!’🙂
      We just laughed and gave our best shot.

      So it seems a couple remains a couple until a child arrives and turns them into a family. It’s not surprising since the daughter is considered no more a part of her parents family by such people once she gets married.

      Like

  23. As I always say REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS is still such a huge grey area for even educated independent urban Indian women.Talk about underage girls married forced into multiple pregnancies and a life worse than an animal.

    Like

  24. When all our friends started getting married, our parents started asking us when we would marry. I have never been asked the kid question but I am quite sure that as soon as our friends start having babies, I will be expected to as well. People just don’t get individuality in these matters or indeed in any matter in our type of ‘collective’ culture. You follow your caste, community and your your family and that’s it. The less you think for yourself, the better. Generations have had babies only because it was the next thing to do in the protocol they were following.

    It’s like sleepwalking through life, never questioning what you actually want rather than what you are supposed to do. Never questioning why you must yield to unfair pressures. Not a life I would want to live (and thankfully I am in a position to be able to choose that!).

    Like

    • ‘sleepwalking through life’… yes, seems like that’s what we’re expected to do… start studying as soon as you can speak. start earning, buy a house / car, get married, have children, rinse repeat.

      Like

  25. Ms. Prema has called for the first item on your breeder bingo card. Please cross out “What if your parents hadn’t had kids?” item. I bet you’ll end up with a bingo on the first day.

    http://whynokids.com/advice-tips/breeder-bingo/

    Quoting from the site for those who don’t know what the tern Breeder Bingo means. “Breeder Bingo means one of the “usual” phrases we hear over and over again from breeders, so much so that someone created a bingo-like card to use. As they say the dumb things to you, you cover the blocks on your card until you have Bingo!”

    Like

      • – All your friends and are getting married.
        – Mrs. Dutta’s daughter is younger than you – she’s married and has kids too.
        – You can avoid whistles and cat calls from street Romeos.
        – Everyone needs companionship.
        – You are beautiful, any man would love to marry you!
        – You’ve had your fun, now you should settle down.
        – Try this fairness cream – it really works!
        – Think about your parents! They will worry about you – who will look out for you when they’re gone?
        – Are you in a relationship?
        – Don’t fall for empty promises from men. Seal your relationship with marriage.
        – As you get closer to 30s – your bio clock is ticking!
        – As you get closer to 40s – I know this guy …. (read – “real loser, but hey, you can’t get picky now.”)

        Like

  26. This is a brilliant post…..it reminds me of how rigid some of these things are…..honestly it doesnt really matter where u r…..most of us living in the US are still tormented by family expectations…me and my friends took our time to decide and take the plunge if we wanted to….i work in biomedical research and the science field was considered (probably still is ) the most unfriendly for raising families. Things are changing now with bosses being flexible and people demanding work life balance. Independent of this reason, i have a lot of female labmates who never intended to have children. When i went back to get married, i was shocked at what a BIG DEAL my mom in law made of the silly “first night” thingie. And when i told her i had no intention of doing it with my husband in her house with 15 people right outside the room, she was worried that we had issues!!!!!! I dont understand how they think we must not touch each other until the wedding day and then in less than 24 hours hump each other like mad and make a baby ASAP. Seriously, how ridiculous is that???? I think a little less involvement would not hurt, it will reduce expectations and everyone will be independent. I am totally sending my kids to daycare and i think its ok once in a while if they are up before me and can fix and eat their own breakfast!

    Like

  27. I remarried and now she has sisters and a stable home with a great father. I supported her before I remarried, and we have since provided a home that she could never have had with him. I do not regret my decision, but I feel that no parent should be able to walk away “free and clear”, if they made the decision to have that child in the first place.

    Like

  28. Pingback: Mother’s day #1 : Motherhood is not Gajar Ka Halwa… seriously!!! | Indianfeminist101

  29. I think our culture and upbringing has made our parents believe that children are the next step in marriage, where the grand parents get to see the next generation and eventually when we get old our children will take care of us and the cycle continues….Things change, and situations too…having a child as a old age insurance is so wrong…and let’s be honest, how many of us are living with our parents…we are where our job’s take us…that’s it.
    Back then, that was the way of life and I don’t think it was a choice…but now having a child like everything else is also a choice…

    Like

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