I recently became engaged last week to my man-friend of 5 years. We’re not even two weeks into this new stage of our relationship and already the questions are flying. The most popular being “Now when are you having kids?”
The thing is, while I’ll still say we’re “undecided” for the most part we are leaning toward not having children. When we share this with others we’re usually met with reactions that vary between shock, disappointment and pity. They then ask “Well why are you getting married if you’re not going to make a family?”
There seems to be a misconception that marriage = children and children = family.
However, the last time I checked, marriage is no longer a requirement for procreation in our society. Want proof? Turn on the TV. The show is called “Teen Mom” not “Teen Wife”. Though I’m sure that’s another “reality” show in the making.
A marriage and your “family” should not be defined by the amount of children you have. Would you tell an infertile couple that their marriage is pointless? My family is defined by the people who make me feel most at home when I’m around them. It’s got nothing to do with kids.
I’ve often been told that “not wanting children” is selfish. Is it selfish for a person to acknowledge that they do not have the ability to meet the physical, emotional and financial needs of another human being that they would be the sole provider for? Is it selfish for someone to not want to pass down dysfunctional genetics into the next generation? Is it selfish for someone to be truly honest and decide that they do not want to give up the lifestyle they have grown accustomed to? Would it better for that person to have a child and still continue living as if they DIDN’T have a child?
Selfish is having a child because you think it will “fix” your marriage.
Selfish is having a child because you want someone to take care of you when you’re older.
Selfish is having a child because you want someone who will love you unconditionally.
Selfish is having a child because you need something to be proud of.
Those who opt to not have children do not do so out of selfishness but out of responsibility. It is not a decision taken lightly, and it is a decision that can only be made after careful and thoughtful contemplation. And yet, for some, the decision to have a child is often more of an after thought once an “accident” occurs. Go figure.
A couple should marry because they want to see where life will take them together regardless of whether or not it leads down the path of parenthood.