I saw something online earlier this week that basically said that people cannot be truly happy without children. Life would feel incomplete or empty without the apparent joy that a child can bring to you. However, the short answer to the question is simply no. This is simply projecting your lived experiences and ideas about how to live onto everyone.
There is nothing wrong with bringing up your perspective to a topic, obviously. That is how we diversify discourse and acknowledge different points of views. But there is a difference between explaining why you feel a certain way, why you hold a particular opinion or belief, and trying to put that same experience onto someone else or make them feel bad for feeling different on the matter.
Now, the question of whether children fulfil you is a relatively tame example of this, as it has become more and more acceptable to break off from this societal “norm” (although I should acknowledge that, as a man, and still quite young, that this question is less relevant to me than it would be to women). But there is a huge range of reason why individuals will choose to say yes or no to that question. Personally, while I don’t feel I’d need a child to be “fulfilled”, I quite like the idea of it. I have a friend who, at this point in time, likes babies but has absolutely no desire to have one of her own now or in the foreseeable future.
I know/have heard of women who have dedicated their lives to their children, and within that I know some who loved every moment of it and others who detested it. For the latter, it wasn’t that they hated the child, nor even that they didn’t love them, but parenthood, once it came around, was not for them. Mostly, it’s about choice and autonomy, particularly for women, seeing as they kinda have a major role in the whole thing. If a woman does not want to have a child, they should not feel pressured into wanting one or feeling bad for not doing so. Could you imagine people being pressured into not having children? I mean, it probably happens, but in the mainstream and from my experience, that would just be absurd. It’s almost always about the choice of the couple, with the woman obviously having the final say.
But sometimes it isn’t a choice, for very different reasons. On one end, as mentioned above, some people are pressured into it. If children are not something that you want to have, then being forced to have them, whether through persuasion or more violent means, removes your autonomy, your choice from the matter. You may end up enjoying the subsequent parenthood, but it would likely feel extremely limiting and impact you mentally. The choice was taken away from you and now you have to live with not only the child, but whatever experience led to it against your wishes.
On the other end, however, are those who are unable to have children. If the individual doesn’t want them, then I suppose that works out, and there are even some who elect to sterilise themselves to avoid it. What about those who want them but can’t though? Some people, for whatever reason, whether it’s something that’s happened to them or some medical condition, like endometriosis in women, just aren’t able to have children, or at least not easily. I don’t know anyone personally who has experienced it, but I have heard stories of people being asked why they don’t have kids in a judgemental way when the reason is something out of their control.
So basically, mind your own business. What works for you won’t always work for everyone else, and there may be reasons unbeknownst to you that are affecting whatever decision is being made. Your view is no less valid, but you cannot expect everyone else to feel the same way and that needs to be respected. Even better, understanding why someone has a certain view or experience, and genuinely taking an interest, not just judging it, can encourage those doing what they want, or help those who may be struggling with their circumstances, whatever they are.
Liked this? Read an older piece on another matter of choice: Abortion Debate is Simply Oppression – Nothing Else to It
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