Child-less or Child-free?

 **This was originally written for and first published in Woman Today, one of the magazines I edit.**

Of my parents’ generation I know of very few childless couples, and those that I am aware of always seemed in the periphery of most socialising.

And they were ALWAYS identified or referred to as ‘the childless couple’, not as Mr Banker, Messrs Teachers or Mrs Nose-up-in-the-air. Even if they answered to any of these descriptions, childlessness was the pick.

Now amongst my generation I see far more couples without children – ‘childfree’ as many would like to term it, against the more detrimental ‘childless’.

The DINK (Double-income-no-kids) club membership is on the rise. An educated choice taken by many couples, whose priorities are different from what is considered ‘conventional’.

But from the dip in tone to describing couples who are unable to have children – “isn’t that just so sad!”, to the indignation against those who choose not to – “how selfish can one really get” – it is not easy being married without children in this world.

About 10 years ago if someone told me he or she had taken a conscious decision not to have children I probably would have been judgemental.

However, now with two children under my belt (pun unintended), I think differently. I believe it takes a certain maturity, responsibility even, to choose not to.

Having children should not be about procreation alone. We are, after all, not race horses or prize winning dogs to have breeding as the ultimate intention.

We spend weeks contemplating a purchase – a car, flat screen TV, a holiday. Yet, when it comes to having children, we make the decision emotionally, or even worse, in response to social pressure.

It’s a lifelong commitment – one we cannot shirk or approach half-heartedly. It’s not a step we can retract if reality doesn’t meet our expectations, or if we are uncomfortable. It definitely is not ok to give birth and expect the nanny to do the heavy lifting.

We need to salute those who make that whole hearted commitment and discharge their duty (Yes, duty. Loving? That’s easy. It’s the duty involved that’s hard).

And just as important (or more so) is to take our hats off to those who are honest with themselves and make the decision to not make that particular commitment.

At the best of times, with best of intentions, being a parent is an uphill task.

Who amongst us hasn’t wished to disappear for a day, a week or a month to just be US? Who amongst us hasn’t had the urge (and probably even done it) to serve Happy Meal as the wholesome meal fifth day running.

Who amongst us hasn’t sent our child to school with wrinkled uniform, or leftovers in the Tiffin box, or fudged an excuse for incomplete homework?

Who amongst us hasn’t taken out our child-unrelated stress on our offspring?

Yes, I am sure most of us, given a choice to go back in time, would do it all over again. I am equally sure that some of us will pause a moment while making that choice.

It annoys me mostly, and angers me occasionally, when self-righteous comments are made of those who don’t have children.

It is a hard, often thankless, job. Yes, there are ‘joys’ to being a parent, that maybe someone else could just as easily realise with their pet dog, their niece or their career.

 

Footnote: I reproduce this here not merely out of laziness to do another post, but also to reach out to my audience (of 5) outside of Qatar.

 

ETA: An interesting post kind of connected to this subject, here.

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16 thoughts on “Child-less or Child-free?

  1. Solilo says:

    Ummon, Thanks for pointing me towards this wonderfully written post. Kudos to you because it comes from a mother. I have seen this blog war between childfree ladies and mothers which is absolutely unnecessary. Live and let live.

    This is refreshing.

    Quoting you here,

    Having children should not be about procreation alone. We are, after all, not race horses or prize winning dogs to have breeding as the ultimate intention.

    We spend weeks contemplating a purchase – a car, flat screen TV, a holiday. Yet, when it comes to having children, we make the decision emotionally, or even worse, in response to social pressure.

    This sums up everything.

  2. Just call me A says:

    So glad you stopped by at my blog. In the process I found yours and I like what I’ve read so far. You have a returning blogger. I also like this template. will check it out as part of my WP discovery project 🙂

    now onto your post: When it comes to having children, a lot of people don’t even reach the stage of decision making. Sometimes an unplanned action makes that decison for them. For people who always wanted kids without a timeline in mind this is usually accepted joyfully, but it becomes a huge emotional adjustment to accept the unplanned good news. that is the worst I think, having a child when one is not mentally prepared to walk down that road.
    It annoys and angers me tremendously if people make any kind of attacking comments at anyone choosing to be childfree, childless or child-loving. But I guess the natural progression of the world is from marriage to children and a deviation from that path is still not largely a socially accepted phenomenon.

    • UmmON says:

      thanks. and the issue with the template is that it’s not very flexible or widget friendly. but looks nice…

  3. Sindhu says:

    Truly agree, I have had no love for kids before marriage but the moment I experienced my very own I found myself changing, But even with all the love I have for my own, I still dream of a life when I can think just for myself, sleep without any disturbance, well the list is unednfing. So for each his or her own…and it is all about the choices you make and once you make it try and give justice to the role you have taken! Read how a blogger reacts to people questioning the decision she has made ….
    http://me-letmebme.blogspot.com/2009/05/we-are-childless-so.html

    • UmmON says:

      thanks. i checked it out. did feel this blogger was targeted unnecessarily in the other blog. interesting dog fight.

  4. Deeps says:

    This is why I have been telling R to bring WT for me every month.See,I’m missing out on so much of worthwhile reading!

    About the post now,I’ve known you for many years but I dnt think I’ve told you,R& I,when we started our life together,had decided very early on that we’ll not hve kids for 4years.And we came across many nasty people over that course,who would go to the length of saying we were having marital troubles because I could not conceive.Gosh!The least they could do was come and speak to us and get their facts right.I wouldnt have expected them to let us be and respect our decision anyway.

    We had Namnam when we were really really ready to take on our parental roles.And now when I say we are done with one kid and we hve no intention to extend our family,a different set of outbursts pour in-about how we are depriving her of a sibling and how the family is incomplete,etc etc.Arent her parents the best judges to decide if she is being deprived of anything or she grows up to be a secure child?
    So long as a couple is happy and convinced with the decision they make,be it not to have a child or not to have another child,I dont think its anybody’s business to pass judgements on them.
    I’ve ranted on for really long havnt I?But I’m glad you wrote this post,V.
    Thnks a ton for sharing this:))

  5. Shyam says:

    Yay, finally somebody who sees “childfree” as a reasoned-out, responsible choice. It’s the “what if…?” aspect to having a child that’s my main reason for not having any kids (apart from I like my life as it is). F’r instance, what if I dont like him/her? what if I dont want the burden? what if I’m the mother from hell? what if I end up adding one more dysfunctional, screwed-up person to the world? Yes, you can say “what if you DONT do all that?” (and many people have said it)… but what if I DO? Once you have a child, there’s no way you can get a return/refund, as it were.

  6. Jiya says:

    “Yes, there are ‘joys’ to being a parent, that maybe someone else could just as easily realise with their pet dog, their niece or their career.”

    lol

    It seems strange that the author claims he/she has children of their own and then writes this. I have had a niece and career(though not a pet dog) as well as a two year old daughter and I know which ‘joy’ meant most to me!

    Thats not to pass judgment on people that choose not to have children. Its their life and their choice to make. However, this seemed like too much of an overkill. Yes there are various different ‘joys’ in life and yes parenting can be stressful. But the author makes parenting sound like drudgery. And people with children self righteous, judgmental twits

    • Shyam says:

      ” But the author makes parenting sound like drudgery.” – Disagree.

      “And people with children self righteous, judgmental twits” – Yeah, a lot of them. As if having children should be, or is, the ultimate achievement.

    • UmmON says:

      i have a career, two nieces and a pet dog. i prefer being a mum to all the other roles i play. but ‘I’ prefer it. maybe the person who chooses not to have a child has made that choice, cos he or she feels the opposite.
      don’t pass judgement based on one post, when you can be more judgemental after reading a few more.
      my whole blog (or most of it) is about me as a mum and my babies, so against the dozens and dozens of posts I write on the kick I get out of it, i have every liberty and right to talk about how it can also be a drudgery.
      i find it a overkill when some mums act as if every second and every breath as a mother is a moment in heaven. give me a break. that’s an overkill.

    • UmmON says:

      and jiya from amsterdam. i don’t claim. i DO have 2 children. proof can be seen in occasional incontinence, and healing ceasaring sutures. though I am sure you’d rather take my word for it than see it.

  7. Solilo says:

    I just linked you to check pingback. Could you see any in your comments section? Check spam too.

    If it is still not there then Check if pinkback option is clicked in Settings–> Discussion–>Default article settings—>Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks.)

    —Solilo

    yep, had done all that. but no show! maybe something to do with this particular template. grr!

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