By Darlynn Amara
Until only a few decades ago, it was assumed that once a woman got married, the stork would come by to drop of a ‘special delivery’ in less than a year’s time. Today, where ‘choice’ is a key element in almost all aspects of modern living, more and more women are choosing to be childfree.
‘Childfree’ should not be confused with childless. Voluntary childlessness refers to people — in particular women— who are fertile and do not intend to have children, who have chosen sterilization, or women past childbearing age who were fertile but chose not to have children. Unfortunately, the stigma attached to a woman without offspring by choice is rather heavy.
Women who do not and in fact never intended to have children are often on the receiving end of some harsh criticism, aimed at both their personalities and their capabilities. They are faced with all sorts of awkward questions, ranging from ‘What do you mean you don’t WANT children?’ to ‘How can you be so selfish?’ — which is rhetorical by the way, but none the less judgmental.
Many people assume if you are single and child-free you haven't met the right man yet. If you are in a relationship that has culminated in tying the knot, they ask 'when are you taking the next step?' A woman's fertility status is still very much considered public property.
The assumption is always that she is ‘unable’ to have a child and not that she is ‘unwilling.’
For many, bearing and giving birth to a child is considered a rite of passage into womanhood, but recent research has highlighted that the decision to be childfree is growing in significant numbers and many women do not ‘dream’ of the pitter-patter of little feet running through a rummaged home.
The obvious pros of being childfree include more expendable time and energy towards careers, finances, relationships and in all honesty — the self. The cons may be endless.
In no way undermining the miracle that is being a mother, children probably do bring joy that is unsurpassed by anything else the world has to offer (as inferred from several conversations with mommies).
In almost all circumstances, mothers around the world — and fathers too — cringe at the voiced opinions of childfree women, but a step in the right direction would be having the conversation and letting each side of the camp enjoy the life they set up for themselves without feeling pressurized or pitied.
Many women, who are childfree, choose to remain ‘givers,’ and they are able to nurture friendships with the same devotion that many women raise children. They are at times mothers to several kids of close friends and make wonderful aunts to others.
And many women who are mothers, manage to make time to have reasonably satisfying careers, bank-balances and love lives.
The catch is in determining what you value the most in life, accepting that it will differ from one woman to the next and not giving her a hard time for it.