It was two years ago, during our blissful pre-COVID days when on a lunch date with my girlfriends, I confidently declared that I don’t want kids in my future. The gazes I was met with were full of disbelief and the questions showered were a bit unexpected and baffling.
“What do you even mean?”
“It’s just a phase, you will feel differently in the future.“
“Everybody wants kids. How can you not!”
“Wait till your motherly instincts kick in.“
And what surprised me more, was the fact that these statements were not from only nosy aunties but also from modern, millennial women. I believe that these women have been conditioned by society to believe that a woman’s life is only complete once she has a child.
Although many young women today are choosing not to have kids, society is still stuck on the very predictable life route of expanding the family tree through endless reproduction. It is seemingly difficult for our aunties and uncles to accept the reality we are currently living in and the consequential choices of our generation.
So, this article is not for them. It is pointless in trying to change their point of view or introduce them to a whole new concept when they have been living with set ideals and way of life for decades.
“This article is for women who wish to deviate from the set standards of living and choose their own path. It is to make them understand that it is okay to be different, and the reasons that they have been fed with their entire lives to confine them to the same pattern of living as them actually hold no ground,” says Saloni Mathur RJ, Journalist and TVM Author
To understand this better, first, let us break down the arguments and reasons we are given to have children and see if they can hold their ground.
Carry forward a bloodline
It may have held some importance a few decades or a century ago when kings and queens ruled lands and heirs to the throne were decided by blood, birth, and gender. However, this is the 21st century, and monarchy doesn’t exist in most parts of the world; even Britain operates under elected political officials.
In addition to that, if you are told that you must carry forward the family bloodline and name by giving birth, then please ignore or fight this obnoxious belief.
First, your bloodline has traces of races and cultures from all over the world, its fascinating, but it is not so exclusive that it needs to be preserved.
Second, if you want someone to carry out your family name, it can be done even if you adopt a child and give it your name. It has nothing to do with giving birth.
So, please, don’t fall for this argument.
Solution to a failing marriage
This is probably the worst reason to have a child. Why does a child have to bear the responsibility of fixing a broken relationship and home? On the contrary, if a partnership is on the rocks and on the verge of breaking, it is the worst time to bring a child into the picture.
A human that can barely move its head without help cannot be held accountable for your marriage or love life.
Rekindle your flame, go to therapy, go on dates, have loads of protective sex, take every reasonable step possible to save your relationship. And when you do, if you are ready, take the mutual decision of introducing a kid to the mix, not to fix you, but to be a part of you.
Someone to take care of us in old age
That is one of the most selfish reasons to have a kid, to have someone take care of us in our old age. And, sadly many parents in India still believe in this self-centred logic.
Maybe, decades ago, to people who were so strongly dependent upon their families, this seemed like the most natural thought. But not today; there are enough facilities around the world that cater to the elderly.
In fact, an increasing number of senior citizens are being abandoned by their families and seeking refuge in nursing or retirement homes. And with people growing more impatient by the generation, this could only get worse.
So, it’s better to depend upon yourself and paid services rather than putting your hopes on someone who doesn’t even exist yet.
Someone to fulfil your dreams
Even if you have a child, it is under no obligation to fulfill your dreams and aspirations. It is an individual with its own mind and thoughts; subjecting it to your wishes is cruel and unfair.
If there is a dream that you didn’t fulfil, work on it, it’s never too late; live your life yourself, not through someone else. Plus, if you don’t have a kid, you probably have enough time to do that too.
Bored, someone to play with
Seriously, do I even need to point out how misguided this logic and reasoning is? You do not create an entire human being just because you need something to occupy your time, pick up a hobby.
Your in-laws or parents need grandkids
You are the one who has to be responsible for an entire human being. So, do not decide to take such a huge responsibility just so that your parents can have someone to play with, sometimes.
This is how families are made, and you always need family
We need people around us that love and support us and whom we can depend upon in life. But there is no such rule that they have to be related to us by blood to do that.
Just because you don’t reproduce, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a family. There are always people around you who care about you and love you, and that makes them family.
Now that we have dealt with these outdated arguments, I feel the need to explain why anti-natalists like me choose not to reproduce, ever.
- Population Explosion – To be honest, there are too many of us in the world. Maybe if we were simple-minded animals like every other species, it would have been fine. But we are a race filled with insatiable greed and hunger, and it is taking its fair toll on the planet.
- Carbon Emissions – The carbon footprint of one child is roughly around 58.6 tonnes. It’s not a small number, having one less kid reduces your environmental impact 30 times more than giving up personal automobile transport, long flights and sticking to a plant-based diet for life.
- We do not want to bring a child into a dying world – The air is hard to breathe, the water is overflowing with human waste, and the food contains more pesticides than a chemical factory. Subjecting a new, innocent life to accept and adjust to this degrading planet does not sit well on our conscience. Let’s work together to fix it first. Let not the penalty for our previous and present generation’s ignorant sins be paid by the next one.
- We want to live our life our way – It may sound self-centered and egotistical, but it is a vital component of living. There is nothing wrong with living for yourself; it doesn’t make you a bad person, just a practical one. Having a child transforms your life in every possible way, and not always for the better. Your time is not your own, your entire life revolves around someone else’s, and your expenses skyrocket! It’s not a decision that can or should be taken lightly.
- Happier life – According to a study, couples who do not have kids are relatively happier than those who do. Parenting is hard work, it is stressful, it is not something everyone desires, and there is no savory way out of it. Yet, because of the way we think and lead life, almost every couple is expected to become parents sooner or later.
You may ask, what if those motherly instincts do kick in, and then we want to have a kid? Well then, go ahead, have a kid; there is nothing wrong with it.
Have a kid because you want it and you feel ready for it- not for any other reason. Remember, it is a choice, not an answer to society’s insistence on ‘good news.’
Adoption is also a choice and a noble one at that
Yet if you are a person who does not want to increase her carbon footprint exponentially, but still wishes to have a child, then adopt.
Honestly, I believe that adopting a child is one of the most noble decisions you can make; giving an abandoned soul a second chance at life and love is no less than a blessing.
There are more than 20 million orphaned kids in India, and most of them live under horrible conditions that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy, let alone these poor souls. If you want to shower your care and affection on someone, choose one of them, they need you.
You are not alone in this, there are many couples who chose either to not give birth or to adopt, and they all proudly stand by their decisions. So, go ahead, make your choice; you have a parade of inspiring people backing you up.
And, the next time an aunty questions you about children and your very private sex life, just pass her a polite smile and move on. It is not our responsibility to change their perspective, just as it is not our responsibility to carry out their wishes.
Live your life your way, and leave them to live out theirs.
Once again, to any nosy aunty reading this article: