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I have dared to write on this topic on a parenting website but couldn't hold my thoughts back when I came across this article Recently I came across an article in “Hindustan Times” (online edition-Jan 03, 2016), titled – “Going Child-free: Indian women opting for lives without kids.”
The article triggered a long and ongoing thought process in my mind. My first thought on reading the title was, amazement, surprise, appreciation and sorrow to some extent. Going through the first few paragraphs of the article, I realized that the women interviewed for the purpose were from metros around India. They were very well educated, in good high paying jobs, or running their own business ventures, having independent thoughts and opinions. Their current professional and personal life was satisfying and the husbands were supportive of the decision of going “Childfree”.
Of all the reasons to stay childfree, career was last one for majority women. Their decision was mainly driven by changing social and environmental factors, like increasing pollution level, higher crime rate, materialism etc. For some women self-growth, freedom and independence was the basis for staying childfree. And for some they wanted their own time to pursue their hobbies or travel around the world or just that they wanted themselves to be available to use their time as and when and for whatever purpose they intended without being bonded by any responsibility or commitment towards child. Most of them wanted to do their tasks guilt free and whole heartedly without having to worry about their child.
After reading the entire content, I thought, is this the new trend in modern Indian women to stay childfree or is this actually a wise decision taken after a thought through reality check? No doubt Indian women have become bold, vocal and assertive about their individual opinions in recent times, and they have shunned most of the tabooed things, which would have been considered audacious and even socio-criminal a few decades back. But going childfree? Is this the reality?
This thought of being childfree is not alien to a frustrated mother, it does cross her mind at some point of time, especially after long sleepless nights, or continuous whining of the baby, or after big sibling fights and tantrums. But those are momentary thoughts and the woman would not want to be childless throughout her life. That’s when I wondered has Indian woman or for that matter any female actually got over her innermost, intense and most natural desire to be a Mother.
Has her self-independence and own growth made her selfish enough to not let her share her precious free time with a little, innocent kid who loves his mother unconditionally and gives her the ultimate joy of being a mother? Most women interviewed in the article mentioned, they felt that the child was a bondage, and they did not want to keep sacrificing their peaceful weekends with friends or adventurous getaways for the young ones or successful booming careers for kids. It is true, and all parents would agree no less, that life is carefree and actually with lot of FREE time when you don’t have kids around to be worried about constantly. You don’t need to worry about routine things like his health, his school work, his playtime, his sleep routine and most importantly many more unexpected things too.
Agreed there are so many things that you could have easily done if you were not a parent. You could have lived your life to the fullest and been very happy and satisfied. Also absolutely true, you don’t have to be a natural mother to love kids, you can love them immensely anyways. You don’t need to give birth to prove you are a good woman or good mother. You necessarily don’t need to be parents to experience that unconditional love and faith from a young one. You don’t need to be father to enjoy those special cricket matches with your little buddy your own son. You don’t need to be a mother to be a confidante and best friend during the daughter’s teenage years. If you wish to stay away from this earthly bond of this beautiful relationship of mother and child, it is totally acceptable. No one would object because it is a free society.
But if young, intelligent and highly educated class of women don’t reproduce, eventually the human race might risk running out of intelligent genes. Because it is medically proven that a baby inherits 80% of his intelligence from his parents and if it is a male child he owes his intelligence to his mother. This does not mean that uneducated woman cannot bring up good kids. These women are no less intelligent, but they lack the environment and training to bring out the best in their children. There have been experiments throughout the world which have shown that though genetics play an important role in the kids’ IQ and intelligence, the role of conducive and productive surroundings and upbringing cannot be denied in the child’s life. Kids trained well grow up into successful people and good humans.
Aren’t these educated class of people who have decided to go “childfree”, definitely at an advantageous position to bring up smart and intelligent kids who would grow up well and at least few would definitely contribute something to the society later in their lives? If every parent raises a good man we would see less crime against women around us.
I am not advocating a populous country or a childfree life. This decision is very personal and every individual has a right to live his life his way.
But I am sad and empathetic towards the women who will miss out on the joy of the big, warm hug from their child. They will miss that moment when tears trickle down your cheek after watching the first stage performance of your own child. They will miss out on the fun of running behind that little monster just to get a bite down his throat. They will miss that love filled cuddle at night and the goodnight kiss. They will miss being parents. A woman will miss knowing what her “Rebirth” is.
And at the same time I appreciate the courage these young women have shown to follow their heart and mind. It would be a herculean task to face people around them especially their own close family members, who would keep pestering them with lots of questions (including that about fertility and womanhood) about why they don’t have a baby after so many years in the marriage. This norm or rule you can say, in Indian society of having kids post marriage has been challenged by these young women. The society changes gradually but will take decades and generations before the ordinary woman next door doesn’t question her childfree neighbor as to why it is so?