May 04, 2010

Parents by Choice

One of my friends, P,  who is thirty plus, said recently " I do not know if I even want to have kids"

After two children, it is difficult to be objective about the matter.
But I told her that it was fine to feel that way.

It is better to not have kids, if the only reason for doing so is to adhere to society's requirements...after all,the parents nurture the child not the society- at least largely. And an innocent child cannot be made to feel unwelcome.

It is a decision that the couple has to make and something they will have to live with either way.

Are  we ever fully ready to be parents? I do not think so. We also learn parenting along the way.  Most of us try it a couple of times even. Some of us even get good at it!
Yes, children bring chaos & responsibility but they also bring unconditional love and laughter
No kids means freedom but can also mean small twinges of regret and lonliness

If you wish to have one later and your biological clock has ticked away?? asked another mutual friend.

P had no answers. I had one suggestion.There are many children in need of love and care. You can always adopt one of them. They will be glad and so will you.

Where do you stand on the matter?


Swati said...

hmm..thought provoking post
Actually we were never sure when we want to have kids and the logistics of it but we always wanted 2. Now after 1 we have second thoughts about having second. But I think at some point in life we need to make decisions and we cannot just keep postponing things.
"What if we regret later" ...should not stop us from deciding for today..tomorrow we will see what to do , if at all there are regrets. And grass is always greener at the other side. We had Aryan early after marraige and we sometimes regretted those carefree days and were envious about some of our friends but at the same time we loved Aryan beyond words. Another friend on mine had her 1st child at 33 and she says , she regrets not having it earlier. So regrets are part of human nature is what i feel. Adoption is sure a great choice for ppl like P.

starry eyed said...

I think it's perfectly ok to choose to be child-free. Parenthood is not the be all and end all for everyone! The whole stereotype that it is selfish etc, is untrue. I know several couples who wish to achieve and contribute much more to the community, society and nation by staying childfree. Better than having a child and neglecting him/her while going after goals and ambitions, right?

And yes, they could adopt if they regret after their biological clock has ticked away. But there is an adoption clock the couple gets older they can only adopt older children...upto a certain age. Maybe another option is foster parenting.

Vidya said...

A nice post! Adopting and bringing up a child that is not yours biologically can be more challenging and is a greater responsibility according to me. Consider the amount of effort that goes into getting the families accept the little life, and letting the child know that it 'belongs'!

How do we know said...

exactly where you do. If you are not ready, dont have kids. They are a huge responsibility and most days, the only thing that gets one thru the day is the firm belief that one WANTED to be a mother.

If you want to have one later, there is a lot of help at hand, and then there is also adoption.

Basically, its purely a personal choice. I know a lot of couples who have decided to NOT have kids.

Rohini said...

I think children should not be born for any other reason that they are wanted. And being child-free, abortion, adoption are all acceptable option to that end

Anonymous said...

I agree that one may never be fully ready to become a parent. But it's perfectly ok to not want children. You addressed the post mostly from a "fear of parenting" or "unwilling parent" perspective. The truth is that several people choose not to have children for more reasons than that.

My husband and i chose not to because our children would have more than 50% chance of inheriting a genetic condition. One friend because she felt absolutely un-motherly around children to the point of loathing them. Another because he's interested in politics and averse to giving them a less than stellar childhood because of his personal ambitions. Another was disinclined to give up her medical career. Yet another couple because they work with street children and feel fulfilled enough. The last because they want to adopt multiple children and feel they would rather adopt another child.

My father-in-law frankly said he never wanted children and although he's been a happy father he still feels he would have had an equally exciting life without children. My husband feels the same way about children. So, yes, it's ok and even normal to not want children. Parenthood is not for everyone.

Previous anon said...

Also, a couple need not necessarily choose to be childless so that they may be free to work for a higher purpose. A Chinese friend who was made to feel unwanted by everyone for being the second child in the family, including his govt, is so scarred for life that he doesn't want anything to do with children. His wife doesn't want either because she wants to travel the world instead. Selfish? One who knows them wouldn't say that.

Their argument is that having a baby has less to do with biological function today because the world is already populated enough, mortality rate is lower than ever, and there are 145 million orphans who are in need of families. So why bring another IF one feels disinclined to?

Artnavy said...

yes to each their own....... or not

very valid points highlighted - but why cant you identify yourself I wonder?

we are not even in conflict!!

The Print Lover said...

Choosing not to have kids is perfectly fine.

As per our Indian upbringing, we are tuned to think that kids supposedly "complete" our lives. So kudos to those who have the clarity of mind to think beyond this and know what they really want.

Asit Kumar Barma said...

I feel children are basically our teachers in faith and life .How many times we come close to God when our children are sick or are distressed even though we may not beilieve in such exstences. Once my son in his fifth standard went to an inter school competition and end of the day when I picked him up I saw him totally dejected since he lost in all competitions he took part - his shirts dirty , bruises all over ( he was good in sports )- I only looked for ways to make him happy.Parents' greatest sorrow lies in seeing the children unhappy . When he did not make it to IIT , I bacame wiser - you must not force your child live your dream , let them allow room for self discovery. When his paper got selected for presentation at the last Science Congress , I realised a parent's greatest joy lies in seeing the children happy.Children have great intuition. What they think of us is always accurate - unlike the flattery or criticism we encounter at work place or society driven by interests and motives. Children makes a very true assessment of ourselves and thereby we get a chance to reform !As years go by and we grow old going through the vicissitudes of realities, it is the children who keep the warmth alive.One reason of high rate of seperation in the western countries can be attributed to this fact that the children grow adult there too fast besides a sharp decline in child birth.Till his seventh standard my son used to believe that Santa Clause was giving him all the bed side gifts he was receiving while waking up on the Christmas day ! As a child grows up , they become more of a friend and that's a great feeling you must not miss. But however we never wanted a second child mostly from the logistics point of view.Otherwise I always wanted a girl baby and it would have been worth the try had I been in a joint family with more logistics support.Adoption is a very good idea , but in India the process is fairly complicated going by the experience of many of my friends who have gone for it.I too wanted to adopt a girl child but this needs equal acceptability by both the parents.Anyway I am waiting for my daughter in law to arrive now ,may be a wait for another ten years or so . You can bet, I would be the world's best father in law!!!

Uma said...

For a long time I wasn't sure Art and I can't believe it now :)
I know a few who have chosen not to have children for reasons already cited here by some. I think there are many roads to paradise and which one you take is a matter of personal choice. It is the same as choosing to remain single...

The anon who refuses to identify herself said...

Because the genetic condition thing is something i'm not ready to announce openly on the internet. Our extended family would hound us with "advice". :)

Anonymous said...

Being the P in this context, I am amazed to see how many of you think its ok to decide eitherway. I dont believe we are procrastinating due to fear of parenting or responsibilities...though it is a fact that I do feel unmotherly around children...My husband enjoys spending time with children but he doesnt feel yet that he wants one of his own! We just dont feel biological clock ticking should be the sole reason to have a child. Maybe we will have a child in 10 months or maybe 10 years (quite impractical given my age!)...but putting off the decision is itself making the decision for us at this point in time. But glad to know that there are more people like us out there :)And who knows, if and when we have a baby I might kick myself for not doing this sooner but till such time....

Artnavy said...

Good to hear from u P...Go with the flow and have no regrets either way.

parenting is such an individual thing though it also takes a village to raise a child!!

i really think 10 yrs later wont be too late...if u decide to go ahead that is... looking at how fit and s..y you have kept urself

am sure u will be the best FIL in the world!!

Unknown said...

@anon-P: u could alwayys opt to freeze ur eggs n sperm n go for it later.. 10 years seems logical then.

Minka said...

hmm thought provoking. I ask myself this question if I really wanted to be a mother considering that I am short tempered and need order and discipline to the point of living my life on a timetable and I can now safely say that I am enjoying the ride but it has its ups and downs.

Adoption is also a great option. But you have to watch out for misgivings in the extended family as well ( if you live in a joint family) . I know my ILs would be very uncomfy with adoption and although I don't agree with their thinking, I wouldn't knowingly like to put them in a spot.

digression - you're all settled in Blore - your home looks transplanted from Chennai to Blore. I am fine in Kol - email you later.

Prachi said...

Really a topic after my own heart...the Indian society has made it so mandatory to have hildren that without them you start feeling that enjoying your life is a crime...why 2 years of marriage and I listen to insensitive statements like " Is there any problem" what problem I may ask, yes there is a problem of you trying to play God in my life and trying to make us have sex for the very purpose of manufacturing a kid. And to think of it these statements come from insensitive in laws as well as your own family alike. The latter might not present it so bluntly.
I love kids and I would want to have them one day but sorry the one day is not today, tomorrow or any day which I can put a date on. The pain ( errr...starting from the process to the afterlife scares me off :)) All I can say to people who'll be least affected by the same is KEEP OFF!!

Artnavy said...

minka- will await your mail

prachi- good for you! u r clear and i cant agree more.... but anush yesterday asked me out of the blue
" was i born a long time after your kalyanam"!!!

i said that it did not matter and that she was born when we were ready.....

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic.
We are one of those childless couples, and perfectly fine with it.
No regrets, no second thoughts...if others out there are judging us, its their problem :)

Unknown said...

Got directed here by Starry. Just wrote a post on this - I can't understand the choice to not have children in one's life (since visiting and going home to kids are two totally different things). Obviously, to each his own and all judgment. Just that after having kids and seeing what a pleasure it is (despite short tempered days like today), I find it very hard to understand (note: not accept, I can accept others' choices just fine, thank you!!).

By the way, adoption is a only a way that a person becomes a parent...the thought about choosing to parent at all is hugely different.

Good post and thought-provoking comments.