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Why does society disfavour women who do not want to have children and brand them as childless? Gopal Karpagam Mandy examines the logical, economic, historic and biological factors that have framed this stereotype.
When did children become economic liabilities, instead of economic assets? When industrialisation and modernisation went hand-in-hand, this shift in thought occurred. In fact, in olden times, children lent a helping hand in the paddy fields or could substitute a labour force when siblings succumbed to illness owing to high infant mortality rates. However, in the urban world, children are considered economic liabilities because parents have to provide financial support for them up until at least they are 18 years of age. Sometimes, they even have to fork out college tuition fees and wedding expenses for their adult child. This marked the transition of children from being economic assets to being economic liabilities.
Money may not be the top concern; many married couples are opting out of parenthood and childbearing because of a fear of lack of time, energy and other resources. Double income families can hardly afford to find time for childbearing and child rearing, since women too have to bring home the bread today. Career-oriented women are on the rise, thanks to our consumerist culture. Affording a maid or a crèche is economically disadvantageous to their retirement nest eggs. After all, an early retirement is a strong “pull” factor for childfree couples.
Many married couples are opting out of parenthood and childbearing because of a fear of lack of time, energy and other resources. An early retirement is a strong “pull” factor for childfree couples.
Environmentally conscious couples are also citing this as a real reason for remaining childfree; we have already done enough damage to Mother Nature, so we have to protect and save it for future generations. Earth conservation has meant that childfree couples are useful contributors to the practical and pragmatic preservation of our Gaia planet. Lessened degree of air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution and the like are effected by these magnanimous childfree couples’ decision to remain childfree.
Lastly, the reason boils down to a blatant dislike of children and not wanting to accept responsibility for another human being. As a famous celebrity once commented, “mother is a verb, not a noun!” Parenting, be it mothering or fathering, is a simple action of voluntary decision; it is not our compulsory occupation of full-time role, as the saying captures! An online blog has been started for childfree women and men, entitled ‘Childfree by Choice.’ It is replete with angry and annoyed arguments about children and parents of children, and a lash against today’s child-centric world! After all, jokes such as “You had me at I have been fixed!” and “Biology is not destiny!” are proving a point of the childfree, aren’t they?
An online blog has been started for childfree women and men in India, entitled ‘Childfree by Choice.’
In conclusion, there are myriad factors affecting married couples’ decision to be childfree. It is therefore illogical and sightless to assume that they are not knowing what they are missing now, or that they are too young to know the futility of their chosen lifestyle choice. Everyone has a choice, to bear children, or otherwise! Injecting religious morals and ethics into this debate is like pouring hot oil onto burning fire, without comprehending the underlying motivations of the childfree decision. So, who is up for a tubal ligation, or a vasectomy?
Image via Shutterstock.
Gopal Karpagam (Mandy) is from Singapore. A Sociologist by training from the National University of
Hi Karpagam Gopal. Good topic dear, and very succinctly put.
As you have said I see many women getting scandalised at the idea that getting children just because two persons are married ‘need not’ be the norm for all. In fact, I really wonder how many couples discuss it among themselves whether they really need child, because even before they come back from their honeymoon, their parents want to hear the ‘good news’. Give us a break dear elders….just because the previous generation(s) did not have the choice to exercise, does not mean everyone needs to follow suit.
Seriously as an adjunct to this discussion, it is just annoying to hear ‘jokes’ in the media, wherein the husband says that “all women are like this. Once they turn from lover to wife, they become such nuisance and on top of this, they also bring the kids who sit on our head as soon as we go home. Yer, thats why I am drinking……”. Does it ring in your ears…..?!
Yep, it is the wife who GIVES birth and it is HER kids and this guy feels it a ‘nuisance’. Fine, then why the hell didn’t the guy plan properly. Many men think that they are doing the women a great favour by giving her ‘motherhood’, without realising their responsibility as a parent. Parenting is a JOINT responsibility, there is nothing like motherhood and fatherhood in it.
A child is definitely a huge responsibility, but should be borne out of ‘LOVE’ and not out of compulsion. Parent-child relationship requires quality time and nurturing just like any other relationship…hence let us understand this and decide whether to go for it or not…but be happy with the choice whatever the world around you say. Because when a change happens, people would tend to resist, but when it becomes a norm slowly, then no one would point fingers at the others.
Do write more…All the Best
Thank you, fellow woman!
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