The decision to have children has no right or wrong approach. Although there is an implied favoured approach placed particularly on women and that is, to have children.
Go to school, get your degree, settle down, buy a house, start a family.
From an early age we are provided with what we believe to be a tick sheet to a successful life. At no point are we told it’s more like a very loose guide sheet based on people’s previous activities. Not everyone finishes school, some people attend uni in later life, in Germany you’re less likely to own property. Yet all women are expected to have an “excuse” why they don’t have, or necessarily want, children. This intensifies particularly just before 30 and up to around 35 which is the reason for my post title. Many already have a monthly reminder of their biological clock and all the risks associated with age. They don’t require any additional reminders in order to be aware.
So when are you going to have children?
Some of this urgency around objectives before 30 are certainly shared by both men and women. The biological optimum age for children is said to be 35 for women and 40 for men. Although, men can continue to have children their entire lives, women until menopause. However negatively questioning a reason about not having a child is too often aimed at women. Even more of a challenge is that this very personal conversation is often raised as light small talk (same time as “Are you seeing anyone?”, “When are you getting engaged?”). This is all based on a perception of the “needs” of a womans completed life. This inherent expectation not only invalidates achievements but silently communicates not having children means you’ve failed.
The narrative continues the assumption with women without children must lead luxurious lives. Having no children automatically means an absence of any responsibilities. That they must be wealthy and only expenditure is on fancy holidays and luxury goods.
“You wait until you have children”
“Until you are a mother, you won’t understand”.
Fun fact: Women without children still have a 24hour day
Reasonable people will understand that it’s still very intriguing that so many lack the empathy to understand how these are expectations are insulting. Child-free is not as implied and people who do not have children rarely live an entirely child free life. In fact, this “child-free” life becomes increasingly difficult with age as so many will have children.
“She’s the spinster of the family”
When holding a child, people feel to inform pass judgement on whether they think you’d make a good parent. The alternative is to ask whether you are getting broody. Often this is received as unintentional smugness and although all should feel proud of complements of their child, this is unwelcome. Many who are child free will feel entierly content with holding a child without the desire to immediately birth their own. This unspoken expectation that a childless woman is meant to never understand the parenthood struggle but also provide unequivocal admiration for those with child can also be exhausting. All of these are rarely directed at men to the same extent.
“I don’t want to have children”
“You’ll change your mind eventually”
A woman’s desire not to have children is often invalidated thorough responses of those around her. To the point where some are told to have one first to be sure. Any decision should be recognised and equally respected as those who choose to have children or, are undecided.
There are so many reasons behind such a decision big decision overpopulation, the depletion of non-renewable sources, cost, age but all of these are personal and often considered private. All are deserving of a completely different type of conversation rather than light small talk.
Tokophobia – A pathological fear of pregnancy
A taboo topic is the genuine negative aspects and genuine health risks of pregnancy and labour. These can vary from person to person and are not only personal, but valid and should be treated as such.
If a woman who chooses to have children it is more likely to go unchallenged compared to those who choose not. What someone chooses to do or not do is their choice and should only be discussed when or if she chooses to raise it. This should be extended even to those who are in relationships as many may not know a couples life intentions and shouldn’t assume children is one of them.
What are your thoughts around this, let me know in the comments below.