Tales from an eternal gypsy who believes anything can happen

Why are people procreating?

fertility

If you’ve recently entered into a marriage, naturally, the next thing people tend to ask is when you plan on starting a family. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes such and such pushing a baby carriage…right? A seemingly natural progression for most, but not everyone is on the same timeline. Increasingly so, we 30-somethings are veering away from parenthood altogether.

There are plenty of people like me advocating alternative lifestyles and being true to one self when the topic of family planning arises. More than ever, women are choosing not to have children. An ever-growing statistic we see published a lot these days. Fortunately some of these women have taken on the brave task of explaining their choices to the public, thus giving a voice to those of us unsure about motherhood. But why should they?

Why is it always women who have to explain their choice not to have children? Are men prodded with the same line of questioning and expected to explain this choice like women are, or is it perfectly natural for men to feel unsure about fatherhood? As a newlywed (like, really newly wed) I find it odd that most people direct that question at me. As if to say it’s solely up to me or my husband has no say in the matter? Going forward, I’m going to suggest that all inquiries involving the utility of my uterus go directly to my husband. I’m tired of crafting clever responses.

In related news, it occurred to me while reading a review for Jessica Valenti’s new book Why Have Kids? that it’s uncommon for people to ask new parents why they decided to start a family in the first place. Is this an inappropriate line of questioning? Should it be assumed that people who choose to be parents have always dreamt of having a family? I thought about surveying the small segment of my friends who have children already, but I suspected I wouldn’t get the most authentic answers, so I put it out to the Twitterverse. Here’s what I got:

“I like the idea of a full dinner table at Christmas.”

“I honestly have no answer to this question. It just happened.”

“I can’t imagine not having grandchildren one day.”

“I never really questioned it, I just accepted it.”

“I always knew I wanted to be a mother.”

I was compelled to write about this, not because I’m sick of people asking me when I intend to launch into motherhood – although, it is getting old – but because I’m curious if parents or parents-to-be find it rude or intrusive when people question their choice to start a family. Isn’t it the same as asking a childless woman in her 30’s why she’s decided to skip out on child rearing? Or is it a more sensitive topic? I’d love to hear what you think. Post a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Also published in the Huffington Post.

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11 Responses to “Why are people procreating?”

  1. ana74x

    Spot on. A lot of people thinks it’s okay to ask really personal questions. When I fell pregnant after a ten year gap, my daughter’s TEACHER asked me if it was planned! I didn’t even know her first name. I actually embarrassed her by pointing out that it was a very personal question for her to have asked. Btw, even when you have a few kids people always ask when you’re having more. No winning really. Stuff ‘em.

    Reply
  2. Urban Cowgirl

    No winning indeed. Good on you for giving it to your daughter’s teacher. How cheeky!

    Reply
  3. Sarah Jasper

    Great post! Not only do the uncertain get this question, but even more aggravating is if you are sure you don’t want children, you get faced with condescension or flat out refusal to accept it as a legitimate answer. It’s posited with a seemingly benign, “you’ll change your mind, don’t worry, you’d be missing out,” often from perfect strangers. Imagine if I went around asking mothers if they were really quite SURE they had wanted their children, or asked if they knew whether they were really happy, or suggested that they would change their mind about it eventually? (It would be the last birthday party or shower I was invited to, I think.) Or what if I physically couldn’t have children, and was at peace with that? How painful the questioning would be then. I think it has more to do with the asker feeling validated in their decisions – thankfully, I don’t feel the same need and I am grateful that we have the privilege of a wide range of lifestyles that make us happy.

    Reply
    • Urban Cowgirl

      So true. Most people give you a *sad face* and say ‘don’t worry, maybe some day’. I’m 34…I don’t have the luxury of ‘some day’. Your point about the person seeking validation is interesting…this could definitely apply with a few of my peers.Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  4. Dustin Lewis

    I have two daughters. If someone asked for my opinion about having kids, I would share my thoughts. Otherwise, I don’t understand why people ask that question.

    I have two daughters. There is so much they have given me that cannot be purchased. You get to experience how truly innocent we are as children, the empathy kids have, and how they love to learn. The time/effort/commitment is huge, but deep down you know it is time well spent.

    Other pleasant side effects:
    –If your new jeans from Aritzia are not an ideal fit for your body type…kids don’t care.
    –Kids won’t turn and run if you gain 20 pounds or decline the marble counter top upgrade in your condo.
    –Your living expenses will probably reduce. Two drinks with an appie = a massive box of diapers.

    The best part is you get to give and receive unconditional love. For me it is pretty amazing. However it is none of my business what other couples decide to do with their lives :)

    Reply
    • Urban Cowgirl

      Sounds like you became a parent for all the right reasons:) Thanks for the comment!

      Reply
      • Dustin Lewis

        Totally the proud daddy now. But ten years ago I would have been thinking something like…ewww, kids sound like a lot of work an money :)

  5. Beautyandthepigskin

    I hate being asked about when I am having kids. I am very comfortable with my choice not to, I’ve never been called to motherhood, and I love my job and independence. My husband has taken to telling people that we can’t have kids when asked this intrusive question and other then usually making people feel really uncomfortable, some then even have the nerve to ask if we have looked into alternatives. It is no one’s damn business if I don’t want to have children, I love my life as is, and no, I don’t think that I am missing out on something. Thank you for tackling this often asked question and allowing for a discussion..

    Reply
    • Urban Cowgirl

      Agreed – it’s amazing how intrusive some people can be when the topic of child rearing arises. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply

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