Society is obsessed with children and having them. An increasing number of people, especially women, are deciding to remain child-free by choice. While some change their minds at some point in their lives, others do not. Both are entitled to their choices and the best anyone can do is leave them alone. However, ours is not a society that knows how to mind its business. It is for that same reason that a parliament with a male majority makes reproductive decisions about and for women. The unnecessary dramatic reaction that follows when one says they do not want to have children can only be equated to Bollywood scenes. What if you chose equally dramatic responses?
What are you going to do with your life if you do not have children?
I will be counting the grains of rice in every 50 kg sack. When I am not doing that, I will build a business, progress in my career, and take care of the environment. I’ll go to new places and eat great food. Be part of a charity organisation that saves children that aren’t mine. Garden and take care of my horses and chicken. There is no end to what I will do with my life, just like people who have children. These are just a few things to show that you can comfortably diversify your attention and do more than raise children.
Who is going to take care of you when you are old?
Holy grail why didn’t I think of that? Oh, wait! Children are not supposed to be a selfish investment for a future in which I am old and creaky. I will hire a nurse who will take care of me. Last I checked, the death register is closed to us and we don’t even know when ours will be marked. Who says I will live to old age, lest you peeked and saw my name in the list of people who will die at 110?
What are you going to do with the money you make?
What else is there to do with money if not to spend it on children? I will bury it in my backyard and hope that it grows into apples and whiskey. Whatever is left of it, I will buy happiness.
How are you going to find someone who doesn’t want kids too?
Communication. It is a way of sharing ideas on what you want for your lives. That way, you can see where your interests intersect. Plus, I am not looking. I will just be going about my child-free life, and then one day, I will meet someone else who is going about their child-free life. What I will not do, is settle. Not for a partner, not for a lifestyle.
Is it just going to be the two of you for the rest of your lives?
What happened to living one day at a time? We will be together for as long as we want without tying the noose of forever around our necks. That way, we can determine where forever ends for us. Recognising that commitment is not sealed by uttering a forever is important. After all, even people who swear to be together forever before people don’t always get there.
Then what is the point of getting into a relationship if you want to be child-free?
Unlike animals, human beings have the privilege of enjoying each other’s company without the end result being a child every time. We will do that. Drink a beer. Play chess or scrabble. Make love. Talk about the books we read and the movies we hate, the places we would like to go and the places we have been. Write beautiful poetry about pain, love, and life. Go to other people’s baby showers and weddings and be amazing aunties and uncles. We will get into relationships for the promise of friendship, companionship, love, and adventure.
What if you change your mind someday?
In that case, I will go ahead and have a child. The biological clock might be ticking but science is working around it.
Why would you deny the world the opportunity?
There are things I should not deny the world, like compassion and poetry (substitute it with something you love). Giving the world a child is not one of those things. Changing the world involves a number of things, like speaking up against injustices and planting trees.
Don’t you think you are being selfish?
What is selfish is you asking me these questions. If you had any sense of understanding, you would understand that I don’t want to be having this conversation with you. Or with anyone I would rather not have it with.
You are going to be lonely and sad.
You clearly have not spent enough time by yourself. Just so you know, I would rather be sad and lonely by myself than be sad and lonely with a child. You might not know this but the latter is possible. You are not sad and lonely because you are child-free. You are sad and lonely because you are sad and lonely.
If you are one of those people whose list of goals does not involve having children, I am sure you have heard some ridiculous questions. Sometimes, these questions are triggering because there are people struggling with fertility issues, miscarriages, and the loss of their children to various terminal illnesses. Unfortunately, people who ask these insensitive questions have no business asking them. They do anyway. There is a lot more to life than breeding and rearing children. People have kids without even stopping to think why. There is no reason why you have to explain your why-not.
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