I am a 22-year-old girl from a middle-class family, having a stable, well-paying job, and I do not want children. There, I said it!
What escapes the understanding of the people, who often scorn at the younger generation for choosing to live a life that according to them is “incomplete”, is the fact that we are free to make our own choices. The older generation needs to accept that the definition of a ‘fulfilled’ life can vary from one person to another.
The young people these days, do not want to be bogged down by the burden of meeting certain pre-defined goals by the time they reach a particular age. All of this doesn’t always mean that we are all rebellious or we do not value the importance of parenthood.
We witnessed our parents raising us with everything they had. We’ve seen them feeling complete because of us, and in no way do we mean to belittle their sacrifices and love for us. We are only trying to find our footing in a rapidly changing world, while simultaneously experimenting with different ways of parenting.
Our parents struggled to make a decent living and made compromises over and over to make life comfortable for us. In the process, most of their ambitions took a back seat. Theirs’ is a generation which had the recipe of a quintessential good life laid out for them by their elders- education, job, marriage, and children. Then the task was to have your children repeat the same cycle in their lives.
Our parents chose us over their hopes and dreams. It was nothing unusual, albeit heartbreaking, as it was a way of life back then. Growing up, we might have been naive to demand more from them, but we now understand their troubles and sacrifices. Unlike them, most of us do not want to get caught up in the same cycle at the cost of our personal goals and ambitions.
For the life of me, I can’t forget the horror in my mother’s eyes when I told her that I don’t want kids, a couple of weeks back. She knew it wasn’t a childish joke, and that I had given it a thought seriously. Struck by the statement hard, she looked baffled and remained quiet for about 30 seconds before saying, “Never say that again”. She was almost hysterical. Then followed a series of her concerns, which I would rather call ramblings. This is how it went-“What went wrong with your upbringing? Did we leave you broken unknowingly? There are always issues between parents and kids but at the end of the day, it’s the family you love. How can you live a life devoid of that? We tried to give you everything. Why would you not want to be a parent?…”
I have been trying to make her understand my stance that having children is a commitment one can’t run away from, and I am probably not ready for such a huge responsibility.
We are a generation trying to break free from the shackles of established societal standards, in order to find and form our own identity. We want to be fiercely independent and inspiringly successful. That obviously doesn’t happen overnight; and for most of us, that doesn’t happen within our 20s either.
So is bringing a new life into this world, when your own life is half sorted, really the right move? Yes, parenthood is a learning process. But if you don’t know yourself, how can you intertwine your life with your kids’ and build a life together?
I commend those who handle career and family, both successfully. But I don’t want children. At least not till the time I am 100% sure that I’ve become what I always wanted to become. And I dream big!