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What is it like to be child free in India, by choice? In a country where marriage and child birth is an obsession, its certainly not easy!
The new age India is rapidly witnessing changes in almost every sphere. Many people are choosing to stay single, marry in the same gender, or make other decisions which are supposedly not as per social norms. While a lot of these new changes have gradually made their place in the mainstream society, a few concepts are not yet understood well enough to be accepted. Choosing to have children or not is one such desperate cry for personal freedom.
Around the world, many child free women are strongly holding on to this personal choice. In India though, being child free is as unfathomable as seeing dinosaurs in broad daylight. So even though you may decide to be child-free, people insist on believing that you are child-less. Because in India every woman ought to want to have children; in fact that is what they are born to do.
So how does it feel to be child-free/child-less in India?
First of all people do not understand why anyone would not want children.
First of all people do not understand why anyone would not want children. No amount of logical, emotional, honest conversation helps. You may have decided to be child free for a couple of years, if not forever, yet people will be desperate to convince you otherwise. Therefore, the first thing you will experience is that any conversation related to any topic in the world will eventually end in the prospect of you having children. It will always start as a question, then as soon as they will realize that having children is not on your list of to-do things, it will become a full fledged debate, sometimes a heated argument (if you can’t keep your cool, that is).
The second thing you will almost always notice is how people will make you feel that something is wrong with your life. Worse, they will try every possible way to make you believe how empty your life is. In the beginning, such encounters will leave you frustrated, angry, exhausted and so on. But eventually your patience will teach you to handle them. But one thing is for sure: because in India everybody and anybody is interested in your reproductive prowess, such encounters are guaranteed to be many.
The last thing any person wants is alienation in any form. And being child free will earn you just that.
The last thing any person wants is alienation in any form. And being child free will earn you just that. So while you would be ignorantly sitting in the cosiness of your child free haven, the entire colony/building would be celebrating some tiny tot’s birthday. Almost as a conspiracy! Not only will you be categorically not invited, but at other times amidst mothers, you will feel out of place or even out of this world. Because needless to say, you will not be trusted enough to give your two cents about good parenting.
And if all this does not fluster you, wait for the day you grow a tummy. All eyes will turn into x-ray machines, trying to decipher the stage of your pregnancy. The disappointment on their faces will make you feel like nothing short of a criminal, when you announce that it’s just fat.
Eventually, some people succumb to this enormous pressure of having a child and thus grudgingly start a family, while there are some who feel that their time has come and they voluntarily decide to take the plunge. And then there are those, who stand firmly by their decision and live a child free life, happily amidst this madness.
Having a child is not a social obligation; in fact it is not an obligation at all but a very intimate decision that affects at the most three lives at once. Whatever a person’s personal choice be, the worst a society can do is make them feel guilty or worse still, unwanted.
A child free woman is neither evil nor selfish (unlike what many people would like to believe). In fact, she is honest and courageous enough to stand by her choice. It is high time the world let her be and gave the right of the uterus to whom it rightfully belongs.
Empty swing image via Shutterstock
People Enthusiast/Writer/Trainer/Happy Soul
It should be a matter of choice but it is not.
I am 30+ and child free for now but I can openly say that it is super hard. From loved ones to total strangers, every one wants to give you advise and tell you what a big mistake you are making. It’s frustrating at times but personally I don’t pay heed. And that kind of attitude helps. It’s hard to help other understand why you are child free and not child less.
I wrote this post last year and have also shared it on WW earlier – but it goes with the theme of this post so sharing again – http://happinessandfood.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/please-dont-ask-me/
You have covered every aspect of what i am facing today. I am 31 and have completed 3 and half years of my married life. Everybody including friends and relatives whenever we meet come up with the same question everytime. I just don’t understand what is their personal interest in it. Though intentional still at times I start feeling as if i am missing out on something..
please excuse me for replying so late. but i just wanted to say, do it only when your heart says so!
You’ve pretty much laid out what goes on in my mind. I’m almost 30 and been married for 3 years now. The only reason I haven’t been plagued by the baby question is because I’m studying. The moment I get a job, the endless barrage of questions will start. It will only get worse when my in-laws find out we intend to be child-free permanently! My only advantage? I don’t live in India! So it will be pretty much long distance queries….
So I understand that I’m not an Indian woman, but I did want to tell you my story.
I met a man in my University three years ago when we were both completing your masters. He was studying data science and I was completing my Master’s in nursing. We denied it at first but after a period of mutual acquaintances and shared interests we realize that we truly had feelings for each other.
The past three years have been an amazing period of getting to know him and myself in, what I truly believe, an unconditional depth of love. We’ve overcome many obstacles cultural and otherwise and came together talking about our future full of dreams and aspirations.
When we first met I had told him that I hope to remain childless (or childfree the terminology doesn’t matter to me). He expressed the same. I am, however, a few years younger to him and when he turned 30 it seemed that some switch has gone off inside of him. I don’t believe it’s biological but I do believe that there’s some social conditioning where we grow up to check these boxes off in our lives. Suddenly he started saying that he was afraid his life wasn’t moving fast enough and that he wasn’t going anywhere even though we have robust careers between the two of us, aspirations to pursue Ph.Ds, have explored and continue to explore new hobbies, and have been able to travel the globe.
Suddenly now he needed a child because without a child apparently there’s no purpose in this world. I thought we were on the same page I thought that we had already created a world full and vibrant of meaning and purpose between the two of us. I think that meaning can only come from your self individually and it’s beautiful when someone else wants to share it. I don’t believe happiness can be found in another human being including your husband or child. It has to first come from within. But now I see him making this choice out of fear. I think that’s what it mostly comes down to for a lot of people who otherwise would hope to remain childfree is the idea of Fear And Regret. But for those of us who remain childfree by our own decision we make our lives full of passion and don’t live to regret as we know ourselves.
Regardless I’m here is because one of the reasons he cited for leaving me is that all woman in India want children. He cited my American culture for being too selfish to want to start a family. I never believed what he said but I will tell you that it’s quite a relief to see that woman in India are just that: They are individual woman with their own desires and wants and needs. Thank you all for remaining true to yourselves because at this moment – if I was weaker in my own will – I might have caved to that argument. Now I just thank God that I was true to myself, him, and to all women/children out there.
Very true…its a big and strong decision ; though people around us dont understand that why we want to be child free and there is long advise list we get from family, friends and everyone. ” Just have one, you will feel the need later”; i dont understand this. being child free gives me my time, our time to travel and enjoy life. I wish all the parents very best with their kids and wish super awesome life to couples like us
I need to interview childfree women from this city for my M. Phil research project. It is proving to be extremely difficult to locate such women. Please help if you can?
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