Think before you breed

Think before you breed

Yes, I know. I haven’t been writing here for a while now. Rest assured nobody feels the loss more than I do, but I have reached a point where the line between legitimate blogging and all-out venting has been blurred so severely that it is for the good of myself and the realm that I refrain from blogging for a little while. At least until I sort out my anger management issues.

Nevertheless, I came across this opinion piece on Maddi’s Facebook page a few days ago, and it was too well-written and too close to my own dear heart not to share. The article, though controversial, I’m sure, rings especially true in this modern age where practically everything, whether one would like to admit it or not, is the manifestation of a decision-making process, a choice. And thanks to the alarming rate at which the world population is growing, the concept of procreating is now also a choice.

My relationship recently hit the three-year mark, a first for me and definitely something to celebrate, considering we spent three years in this and are still alive. But while it is in many ways a good thing, it has also come with its own set of issues, one of which is the increasingly annoying and teeth-grinding question: “When are you getting married?”

Now, I’ve always hated questions like that, because I’ve never known how to answer them. I’ve tried snarky (“It’s a bit late tonight, so maybe another day”), coy (“Oh, not yet, not yet!”), autopilot (“When we’re both ready”) and even downright rude (“I’m going to pretend you never asked”). But no matter how I word it, it has never been a satisfactory answer, because it has never been what the inquisitors want to hear. The frequency of this question has increased significantly in the last few months, primarily because many people in our circle are getting married this year, so everyone expects us to cave in to the same pressures and hype and get hitched as well.

So I sat down and put some genuine, serious thought into this question, and then it hit me. I don’t want to get married, because I — unlike the rest of the world, apparently — don’t want children.

Could I ever be married? Sure.

Would I ever consider it? Of course.

But…?

But why should I get married if I don’t want children?

When I take a look at the parents and children around me — in malls, on the streets, in restaurants — it always crosses my mind that these parents, full-grown adults that they are, should have put some serious thought into having children (and undergo psychiatric evaluation; yes I said it) before they actually had them. I have always made my feelings clear about children who misbehave in public and who should know much more at their age than they currently do, and about their parents whom I blame almost entirely for their behavior. That’s when I turn to Afham, after witnessing yet another episode involving an insufferable child and their inept parents, and say, “Now aren’t you glad I don’t want children?”

The last time someone asked when I was getting married, I tried: “I’m not.” After they had finished pulling their eyebrows out of their hairlines, they asked, “Why not?” And then there was another mad scramble for the eyebrows when I said, “Because I don’t want children.”

This is an argument I’ve had to have many times over the years. I’ve always believed that one does not need to be married to have a child, but in a country that frowns upon having a child out of wedlock, it should only stand to reason that wedlock itself is not necessary if the child in question were never to exist. I don’t need a husband to validate my existence, and I most certainly don’t need a child to be happy. That said, I subsist in a country and a culture that believe it is the natural and expected order of things to get married and procreate, so my choice to not have children will always be frowned upon, regardless of my reasons for not wanting them.

As Christine Overall writes in her article:

The choice to have children calls for more careful justification and thought than the choice not to have children because procreation creates a dependent, needy, and vulnerable human being whose future may be at risk. The individual who chooses childlessness takes the ethically less risky path. After all, nonexistent people can’t suffer from not being created. They do not have an entitlement to come into existence, and we do not owe it to them to bring them into existence. But once children do exist, we incur serious responsibilities to them.

Because children are dependent, needy and vulnerable, prospective parents should consider how well they can love and care for the offspring they create, and the kind of relationship they can have with them. The genuinely unselfish life plan may at least sometimes be the choice not to have children, especially in the case of individuals who would otherwise procreate merely to adhere to tradition, to please others, to conform to gender conventions, or to benefit themselves out of the inappropriate expectation that children will fix their problems. Children are neither human pets nor little therapists.

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