Sharing an email.
Subject: Childless or childfree?
For many years, I have been a keen follower of your posts and the comments which follow. Many of the women who write to you and the followers of your blog probably look for many things – validation, affirmation, consolation, strength, support or just maybe different opinions on the topic being discussed. And I too come to the IHM family looking for perspectives on a question that has started troubling me these days.
At the very beginning, I must say, I come from a privileged background. Liberal parents, a very good higher education, married the man of my choice (albeit with a bit of struggle convincing his parents!) and turns out he is a feminist, my in laws are fairly conservative but we live abroad so haven’t had any issues yet, I work full time doing the thing I love most, have ample financial independence too. My husband and I treat each other as the equals that we are and he is every bit the person I had always wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Having said that, now that it has been two years since we were married and are now both 30, we are dreading the inevitable turn the conversation takes at this stage in every Indian couple’s lives – “when will you share the good news?”
I want to clear something first – I absolutely love and adore children. Now that I am in a position where we have to decide if this is what we want to go ahead with, I realise that I do not actually want to have kids of my own. My husband, as of now, feels the same way. But he is still vacillating between “not now” or “not ever”. Our reasons are different, I just don’t feel the need to have children of my own. My husband, on the other hand, feels we are not financially ready since we are both still paying off education loans.
The issue is, I do not know how to broach this topic with either set of parents. My dad, no matter how liberal in other things, believes there is a circle of life and everything happens one after another, education -> marriage -> children. My mother, quietly, has told me it is our choice. I’m not really sure if she is ok with it or not but for the moment, she seems to be on my side. My in laws, I haven’t spoken to yet, will probably be apoplectic when they hear that I do not want children. I will keep that aside for now.
With this, I hope I have explained my background well. I love kids, have not been abused as a child (no trust issues, etc), am financially quite stable (not that we cannot afford to have children). I just do not feel the inherent need that some women do to have a child of my own. I have a couple of questions:
1. Have any of your readers experienced the same feelings as mine? How did they handle it personally? I know now that I do not want to have kids but at the same time, I am full of doubts and questions – what if I regret this decision when I am no longer able to have children naturally (I can always adopt of course), will I be missing out on something wonderful in life? Will this affect my relationship with my husband? What if we split up?
2. How did they deal with pressure, questions and rumours from family and friends? (For example – Maybe they are infertile, how selfish of them not to have children, maybe he/she is having an affair or is gay or is unable to “do it”, how are you going to live in your old age? what if one of you dies? you will be bored of each other within a few years, what is the use of earning so much, this is what happens when you give your kids too much freedom)
3. How is having or not having children selfish? If you have children because you want them, is that not selfish since you are doing it for your own happiness? Are we being “selfish” and depriving our parents of grandchildren (a couple of friends actually told me this)? How is this relevant, especially since we are going to be primary caregivers for the children and not the grandparents who will barely see the kids once in a while.
4. Why should we consider children as a security deposit to be encashed later in life? My husband and I should be managing our finances properly and planning for our old age, irrespective of having children or not. We should be keeping ourselves busy with friends and hobbies, not having children to keep yourself occupied!
5. Are couple who are childfree (implying choice) or childless (could not have children for various reasons) any less men or women or not contributing to society solely because they do not have children? How much do couples actually think before they embark upon being parents? Most couples I know went ahead because it had been X years since they got married and it was the right thing to do next.
We have not yet made the final decision since my husband is still thinking of it but it would be good to know what other people think. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
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