Nothing irks me more than when people insist that I should have another child, this time a girl, to even things off. “One child is no child,” or “The boy needs a sister to protect,” are among the sage bits of “advice” I’ve been given.
Of course the people who know me and the drama that was my pregnancy say it in jest, but the others are, most times, dead serious. Why? I have to assume it’s because they haven’t a clue of what it took for me to bring my son into this world and to be alive to tell the story. It was that bad. So much so that my own mother refuses to even entertain the thought of me having another child.
Having children is a choice and no one, married or unmarried, should be shamed into it because it’s what society expects adults to do. There is this father of four I know who takes every opportunity to force his “expert” advice on a young couple he believes should be well on their way to parenthood. Why? Because, according to his reasoning, they seem to be happily married and financially sound. He has no idea if what he assumes is real, or if there is a health issue involved. He has no clue if they even want to have children, which is their right, but he keeps on pushing. I would have told him from day one to mind his own business, but that’s just me.
There are a number of reasons why some people may choose to not have children. These are among them:
The cost of raising a child from birth until age 18 is phenomenal, I should know. I’m just past the halfway mark and the figure keeps rising at an alarming rate every day. The cost of even the basics of food, clothes, shelter, amenities, education, medical expenses, day care, entertainment and extracurricular activities can take quite a bite out of any budget. Some people just can’t afford this type of financial commitment, and having a child may place a lot of economic stress on the parents, so they opt to not have children.
Many people may have hereditary physical and mental health issues which can prevent them from having children or which they fear may be passed down to future generations. Out of an abundance of caution, they may prefer to give up the idea of having children instead of perpetuating the risky gene.
Not all relationships may truly possess the bliss that social media portrays. Some people, although they may choose to remain in an unhappy relationship, refuse to bring children into it. According to the Journal of Marriage and Family, research has shown that parenthood can sometimes have a negative impact on marriage as a result of the restrictions and stresses that come with the job. This can compound an already precarious situation.
Raising children is a time-consuming responsibility not everyone is willing to take on. The increased stress levels, sleep deprivation, poor eating and lifestyle habits that usually comes with being on the go for at least 18 hours every single day is not for everyone. So, if an individual prefers to spend their time and money doing the things they want to do rather than raising children, it is their right to do so without being judged. When, for instance, you run into them at the airport with their expensive luggage, designer clothes and well-made up face and every hair in place, confidently making their way to the first class lounge where they will be served wine, while you are struggling to keep your economy crap together, still don’t judge. You made your choice and they made theirs. Live with it.
Some people are population conscious and they consider the fact that the world’s population is well over seven billion, giving rise to a decrease in housing and other necessary resources. As the population increases, so too will be the strain on these resources, and some people would prefer not to add to that strain.
Then there are those who are concerned about the environment and the impact having children can have on the planet. “Having children is the most destructive thing a person can to do to the environment, according to a new study,” an article in the independent.co.uk says.
“Researchers from Lund University in Sweden found having one fewer child per family can save an average of 58.6 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions per year,” the article continued. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities such as eating meat, driving cars and travelling by aeroplane.
Freedom of religion and freedom of speech are constitutional rights, freedom to abstain from parenthood is an individual right. If you choose to waive your rights to your finances, time, leisure activities and entire life so that these tiny people you choose to bring into this world can have a good life, then by all means do it. But don’t expect everyone to make the same choices you do. Mind yuh own business!