Enough thought???

When I tell any of my friends about my decision to be childfree*, they always say "I hope you have given the matter enough thought", or something to that effect. To me, this is quite incomprehensible.

I have been married for more than four years now and have a lot of time to think about it. We have talked it over between ourselves and have come to a decision. That is more than I can say for a lot of couples who have had kids. I have acquaintances where having the baby was almost a unilateral decision on part of the wife!

When a couple has a baby before their first wedding anniversary, does anyone ask them if they had given the matter enough thought? Rarely, if ever. At the most, they may be asked if it was a good idea to have a baby so soon after getting married. But once the deed is done, there is no going back, it is an irreversible act. You are bringing a human being into this world and will be responsible for raising it to adulthood. The decision will change your lives completely and will change the way you relate to each other and to everyone around you. It will have enormous repurcussions on your career(s) and one of you may have to quit working. But does anyone ever ask parents-to-be or new parent whether they have "given it enough thought"? Nope!

But when a couple wants to maintain status quo, to be as they are without bringing another factor into their relationship, to keep living their lives as they have been, then all the questions come up. Even though the decision to be childfree need not be necessarily irrriversible. With the advances in medical science, older women are having children too, and there is always the option of adoption if you are not hung up on "flesh and blood". But everyone assumes that the decision has been made on the spur of the moment, because the couple is too busy enjoying themselves to have kids right now, because they are too wrapped up in themselves and their careers and they haven't thought about having a baby at all. I personally feel that couples who make a choice to be childfree actually give the matter much more thought and deliberation than most couples who have children.

*I use the word "childfree" to indicate a concious and voluntary decision to not procreate, as opposed to "childless".

8 comments:

spiralarchitect said...

yeaa...very true....but the indian society is defined by phases in life...when u finished ur college and get yourself a job, the question pops out on marriage and soon enough once ur married it is about kids
we as a couple gave it a thought for 6 yrs pre and post marriage and have decided to be "childfree" as you concot...what do people gain by pushing you towards a child...i guess its because then they can happily identify themselves with you...it is conformance to standards...they do not realise that standards make them mediocre....the decision to be childfree is probably the toughest decision to take....u need to know ur partner too well to go down that road....and ofcourse !@#$ the society....cheers, SA

KoPoS said...

with low proliferation of birth-control methods among the commons, no one actually thinks a child can be 'planned'. its something that inevitably 'happens' over a year or so give or take year ;)

now when you say you have 'chosen' to be childfree for now; the question they ask might actually be an euphemism for 'oh! is something wrong? have to tried all methods possible for child birth?'

and of course, the general concept is that women must bear children before they hit 30. so there goes the epitaph on my logic of child birth.

Aparna said...

with low proliferation of birth-control methods among the commons, no one actually thinks a child can be 'planned'
Yesh, once a friend of mine, who was to be a father in a few months, told me ,'Everything happened by the grace of god. This is the correct time in our life when we can bring up a child, so god gave us one'
I was trying to find words to reply for a one whole minute...and then told him, 'That's all very good, but if you leave your birth control to god, I am sure he would give you a lot more children than you want'.

Anshuman Ghosh said...

well .. as of now, I am planning to remain "wife free" :-D

KoPoS said...

@anshu
or to put it girls are choosing to remain 'anshuman free' ;P

Monika said...

tanushree,
i loved this post... one its well written... two it resembles my state so much as of now... though we have not decided to be childfree we have just decided to postpone it but still the pressures are too many... i guess this is the way indian society is...child bearing is thought of as a task to be completed rather than a responsibility to be enjoyed and given ur heart and soul too... and according to me only couple who is 100% sure of it should jump into it...

Mithun Kumar said...

Ofcourse, pressures do build up from the society... Parents always have an expectation to become grand parents before they kick the bucket...
But the responsibility always lies upon us, the wannabe (or not) parents of the future...

I, for one, surely respect your decision Tanu...
But from my POV, parenthood is one experience of the lifetime that does change two people's life...
Now whether the change is for good or for worse, depends entirely on the two individuals in a wedlock...

IMO, no one should base any percentage of their decision looking at another couple (or individual).

Anonymous said...

Interesting!
I too have been thinking on the same lines.

Kiran