Motherhood is a vocation like any other. It should be freely chosen, not imposed upon woman – Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
The acclaimed author may be speaking in a different context here; yet, her statement rings true down to this generation. Childlessness – that is, women choosing to live without having a child or the traditional concept of a ‘complete’ family – is a growing trend. As evidenced in this British study, this Newsweek article or this BBC article on Indian women, more and more women are choosing to consciously remain child-free, or accept their state of infertility without attempting treatment. It is not always a decision made by single women, but also by couples who choose jointly. The decision to remain child-free is truly a controversial one, yet there are a number of valid reasons for doing so.
Firstly, we are living in the midst of a population of 7 billion people, of which an estimated 153,000,000 are orphans. The Newsweek article referenced above suggested strategies to ensure couples had children, but in my opinion, these numbers mean there shouldn’t be any complaints if I choose not to have children. There are also economic costs to consider. In the UAE, raising a child until the age of 18 will cost Dubai parents AED1.2 million. It doesn’t stop there – one has to consider the fact that most parents will send their child to university, which can add another 3-4 of high expenses, especially if he or she studies abroad. At this stage in my life, I have seen how hard financial stability is to achieve, and moreover, my own educational goals soar so high that I’m afraid the need to support another human being could completely clash with them.
Additionally, parents need to be emotionally ready to have and raise children. There have been instances where an emotionally unbalanced atmosphere can have a painful impact on a child’s life. Think about it – if you think you’re at risk for having personal or marital problems due to previous emotional distress, would you want to inflict that on an innocent life? Having children may also cause a negative impact on a marriage, and I don’t think I’m prepared for either risk. Lastly, and most simply, we’re arguably in an age where women have the opportunity to rise meteorically in their careers. While I’m sure some women can ‘have it all’, I don’t think I could balance both a job and children, nor would I be able to deal with the guilt of neglecting either.
However, upon declaring these views, people have often asked me how I can be so selfish, usually followed up by a remainder that I will have no one to care for me in my old age – a statement that is paradoxical in itself. I have often also heard the views ‘You’ll change your mind.’ I don’t deny that I might, but no one should direct such judgment or outright disbelief towards a life decision – either anyone else’s or mine. Having children is not an obligation, it is a responsibility, and should be treated as such. In this advanced world, it’s time we realized that no one, man or woman, need have a child to be ‘fulfilled’ or ‘complete’. Careers, traveling, or pursuing your dreams are equally worthy achievements; the joy of parenthood is unique in itself, but it is not the only thing capable of providing color to one’s life.
Featured image courtesy of The Huffington Post
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