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Having children can be a beautiful choice, but so can not having children. To have or not to have children is a decision that’s best left to each individual.
Having a child seems to have always been the ‘thing to do’ after you get married. As soon as you step off the aisle with your new spouse and have been duly congratulated, family and friends start hankering for the next bit of ‘good news!’ If you happen to be a woman, you will invariably be pestered by your parents, siblings, his parents, siblings, and almost all of your friends!
I don’t agree with the commonly-held notion that one of the ‘key result areas’ of marriage is to produce children (especially immediately after getting married).
In my opinion, here are all the wrong reasons to have children:
It is a must after marriage. (Why?)
You aren’t getting on too well with your partner, and you’ve been advised that a child would fix everything. (Having a child will, if anything, add to the stress. Sort out your own problems first!
You are human and you desire to have children, so you go ahead and have them without thinking about whether you’re equipped to; financially, physically, practically, or emotionally. (Why would you want to do that to yourself and your own kids?)
They are an ‘investment’; you need someone to look after you in your old age. (And you can’t manage to prepare yourself for a secure old age because…? Besides, what if they decide to turn their backs on you at that point?)
You are a perpetrator of the irrational Indian notion of having a son. (So you keep on trying for a male child, and produce daughter after daughter until a son comes along, knowing that your resources are limited?)
You want to keep the family name alive. (Eh?)
Your parents or in-laws want grandchildren. (So you must oblige them, regardless…?)
You don’t have anyone else in the world and need some company, to keep yourself occupied. (Is there something that stops you from developing other relationships? Remember that your kids will pick up from your habits, outlook, and behaviour. Your reclusiveness is not good for them; you need to be able to develop the right relationships so they have access to people and opportunities when they need them, and can learn to develop healthy relationships too!)
Your biological clock is ticking. (Not a good enough reason, mate!)
Children are an absolute and complete responsibility – you’re responsible for bringing them into this world and you owe it to them for doing so.
They are not objects for your own fulfillment, in any form or manner.
You are not doing them a favour by bringing them into this world, as they never asked you to to do so. (It would be quite selfish of you to use this line on them, to manipulate them into doing what you want!)
I believe that people should think of having children only when:
They are in a position to give their child the opportunity to make whatever he or she wants of his or her life.
What’s more, it’s absolutely OK to not want children. It’s OK for women (or men) to not go ga-ga over the antics of kids, and/or to not want to foot their responsibility. Feeling this way does not make you any less of a woman or a man. You are entitled to your opinions and ways.
Here is an absolutely brilliant article on why having children is an ethical choice, and not an emotional one; why it needs absolutely certain and careful thinking. The choice to not have children needn’t be questioned, because it is actually the safest bet! On the other hand, people who want to have kids can be cross-examined as to why and if they should – they ought to be able to justify this decision of massive consequences!
I would really be happy if our leaders were to consider incentivising people to help control population, instead of considering every additional child a potential voter! The population problem in India is immense, and the strain on our limited resources is enormous. It’s high time people are influenced to see sense; and the sooner that’s done, the better!
A version of this post was originally published at the author’s blog
Woman considering a child image via Shutterstock
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