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Kids are not your toys, happiness-generating robots, status symbol or financial assets. Children should be a conscious choice and not a default condition!

In India, the ideal life of a young adult is if they land a government job, marry at a fertile age and produce progenies as soon as possible. The first two conditions may have slight variations across families and one’s social locations.

Some families may prefer their kids to migrate to the US or Europe. Some parents may be least bothered about their child’s career paths, especially if the child is female. So the different versions of the first two conditions depend on your class, caste, gender or geographical location.

But, the constant condition for a successful life is always to have kids. It does not matter whether you are working at NASA or an Olympian.  The version of your life where you sacrifice for your kids gets the most applause from society.  The decision to have a child changes one’s life completely.

Having a child is a permanent decision!

It has crucial consequences on various aspects of life like educational attainment, career choices, physical and mental health, income and quality of life. Do couples discuss child-bearing decisions and parenting patterns before marriage or at least after marriage?

People around always question the decisions of couples who have decided to go child-free. They are forced to re-think their choices, and family members scare them through stories of their upcoming dark old age.

They convince couples by creating insecurities about them having an ‘incomplete family’. But what about those couples who go for the decision to have kids?

Does society ever doubt their choices? When will society understand that not every individual has the calling to be a parent? Leaving aside other people, do the couples introspect themselves on their choice to have kids?

I have often felt couples have kids thinking that children are a security for the future, a status symbol in front of family and society, peer pressure or for parents’ happiness. The danger of these reasons to have kids should be scrutinized intensely.

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Are children an insurance policy for old age?

In a developing country like India, the functioning of the insurance and credit market is incompletely present or absent. So, adult children are considered security assets for the parents’ old age. One has to incur high financial costs for child care in the initial stages of life.

They try to smoothen their consumption in the future when the income flow is low and erratic through their children, who serve as insurance against periods of uncertain income.

Times are changing, and the Indian insurance market is developing attractive insurance policies that will provide more stability against hard times than children. So, it is high time for Indians to reconsider their idea of having children as an insurance policy for their old age.

People should think of investing in good old age homes than giving birth to a human being to look after them in the future.

Childless? You will be judged by all!

Recently, I saw many blog posts regarding Indian couples going voluntarily child-free. I believe that it is one of the bravest decisions a couple can make. In Indian society, the natural progression after marriage is to have kids and being infertile is considered a failure.

The burden of shame is generally on the woman. Recently, a female friend shared stories about how different people advise her about being childless after two years of marriage.

Another group of people advised her to undergo infertility treatment. If a couple is childless, people assume that the female partner has gynaecological disorders. Another group urged her to stop prioritizing her career over starting a family.

Even though being childless or child-free is a shared experience of the couple, it is mainly the women who are attacked. It doesn’t mean that men are free of shame, humiliation and the perception of being flawed. It doesn’t matter whether you are a super-achiever; all that matters is your ability to procreate.

Due to the massive societal pressures and the horrible socio-cultural experiences of being childless, many couples decide to have kids to uplift their social positions.

Your social network influences fertility patterns

Many studies explain the relationship between fertility patterns and interaction in social networks. These studies show that an individual’s fertility behaviour is strongly influenced by the fertility of one’s social network members.

Findings suggest that childbirth is contagious as one’s chances of conceiving increase when someone’s significant social networks members like family members, friends or co-workers have a child. Ask any Indian couple, they might have been compared with other couples married at a similar time period on this matter.

Peer pressure exists in all stages of our life. But how is ‘everybody is getting pregnant’ a justifiable reason to create a human being? Can we explain it simply by tagging it as the couple’s choice? I have serious concerns about this stress-induced pro-natalism.

The pressure continues even in old age!

Just as discussed above, older adults also face peer pressure. Once you are retired, and your children are settled, the next set of comparisons with your peers is about the grandchildren. If we look into the social media platforms of old people, their display pictures, stories and posts will be mostly pictures of grandkids.

It is widespread to hear parents in Indian families say their ultimate goal is to see their grandchildren. The number of grandchildren is seen as trophies earned in old age.

In Indian society, old people do not have much excitement going on in their life. So, a new member of the family brings much happiness and joy to their life.

Grandparenting is less stressful than parenting. Grandparents get to enjoy the joyful part of child-rearing—the unavoidable difficulties and responsibilities of child-rearing fall on the parents, especially mothers. I have heard parents tagging their children as selfish for not giving them grandchildren and happiness in their old age.

But what do you call those people who guilt their children and force them to produce unwanted children for their desires? It’s high time for Indian parents to realize that their children own their life and body, and their reproductive decisions are their own.

The earth is already overpopulated!

The world population was projected to be 8 billion by 15th November 2022. We have enough and more humans on the planet Earth. We are not in dearth of human beings, but, we need kind and empathetic individuals in this unfair and unsafe world to make this a better place. Parents have a huge responsibility to raise such individuals.

For that, it is crucial, before having kids, that individuals should invest their time and energy in learning about parenting and ensure they have the physical, emotional and financial capabilities to raise happy, healthy and empathetic human beings.

Kids are not your toys, happiness-generating robots, status symbol or financial assets. Children should be a conscious choice and not a default condition.

Image source: Zmaster, via Getty Images free on CanvaPro

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