Friday, September 18, 2009

A personal choice

I met some friends the other day and they told me that a mutual friend of ours, someone my age, just gave birth to her first child. Then they proceed to ask me when will it be my turn. Truth be told, although I love to hug and cuddle babies, although my heart melts whenever I see adorable babies smile, although I feel the urge to care for young children, although I feel warm all inside when I see parents bonding with their babies, I know from way back, even before I got married that I do not need to have children of my own.

In fact, right after I have gotten married, many well-meaning friends, relatives and acquaintances asked me when do I plan to have children. I answered them politely that I plan not to have any children. Some would snigger and say, "well, you'll change your mind after a while when your maternal instinct kicks in and you'll feel the urge to have children. You'll yearn to have them so badly that you'll feel the pain cutting through your heart." They then say to me, "if you leave it for too long, you may never be able to have children that easily as your biological clock never stops ticking, you will grow too old to have children easily. You will then need to undergo expensive invasive medical procedures just to conceive so please don't wait. You'll regret it later."

What they do not know is that I did not give my answer on a whim. In fact before my marriage, I thought long and hard about this question. I sought my partner's thoughts on this too as I know that a marriage will not work if one spouse wanted children and the other did not. Fortunately both of us agree that having children is not something that we could not live without.

I strongly believe that to have or not to have children is a personal choice. No woman should be coerced, threatened or pressured into bearing children if she is not willing or not ready to do so, not by her husband, parents-in-law nor even her own parents.

I also believe that people should be able to have as many children as they want as long as they are committed to bear the responsibility of bringing up their children to be happy and well-adjusted adults. They should also be ready to meet the requirements of their children financially, physically and emotionally. They need to understand that children are human beings with their own rights, with their own feelings and needs. Children need to be loved and cared for in a stable home.

There is no one particular strong reason why I choose not to have children. It is just that I do not see why I should have children.
Some of the questions and comments that I get from people when they know that I choose not to have children are as below and I have also put in my answers to them.

1. Aren't you curious to know who your children will look like?

I do not have a need to create a new human being from myself and my spouse just to satisfy our curiosity on who they will look like.

2. Don't you love children?

I do and my love for children could be put to good use by me helping out with caring for the children of my relatives.

3. Who will care for you when you are old?

I think it is very unfair to have children just because the parents are afraid that no one will take care of them when they are old. It is a burden to the child to be born just to be a carer and to be the sole provider for the parents during old age.

Save and invest wisely when young so that one can take care of oneself when old. Strive to stay healthy when old by eating healthily and exercise regularly when young.

4. Who will carry on your spouse's family name?

Can someone explain to me why is there a need for someone to carry on any family name?

5. Having a child will complete you. You cannot be considered a woman until you become a mother.

I do not believe that being a mother is a woman's highest calling. There are many other things for a woman to do apart from giving birth and being a mother.

6. Having children is the natural next step after getting married.

One do not have to follow the well-trodden path.

7. We need young workers to replace the old.

Just extend the retirement age. Many old people are still healthy and are still happy to work.

8. Your country needs more {insert race here} so you need to contribute to the {insert race here} population.

I am not a racist.

9. You are missing out on some of the most fulfilling experiences in life.

Being pregnant, giving birth and raising children are experiences that I do not mind not having.

10. How can you be so cruel as to deny your children the joy of living.

How can someone who does not exist in this world (i.e. my children) be denied of anything?

11. Nothing can beat the wonderful feeling of hearing your biological children say that they love you.

I do not mind not having that wonderful feeling.

12. Your children will bring such joy to your life. Having them in your life will motivate you to work harder and give you energy to work that you never imagine that you have. You will have a purpose in life.

Do you mean to say that you have no motivation to work hard, no energy to work and no purpose in life before having your own children? For me, I do not need to have my own children to give me all the above.

Those are about all the comments that I can remember. May all the children on earth have a happy childhood and grow up to be well-adjusted adults!


  1. you know what?? i really admire ur courage and i love this post!! ^.^

  2. I used to think like you, I can say that now, I still think like you do. I have a cousin sister who feel exactly the same as you, until one day, something happened that changed her life forever.

    Her husband got a health scare. He was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer. It was at those moment that both of them started thinking... "That's it? That's life? That's all that you'll leave me with? All the money and our house?"

    It was then that they realised there was nothing that really belongs to the both of 'them'.

    Cut long story short.... my cousin sis gave birth to a baby girl when she was in her late 30's. They never thought they would love her like they do now. She asked me not to wait... she did regret at that particular moment. But she is glad that she has her baby girl now.

  3. April: Thank you. May I know how you come to know of my blog?

    Purple~MushRooM : Thanks for sharing your story. I understand that some people do change their mind and they love their children after having them - it is ok to change minds as long as they take good care of their children.

    But I know I won't change my mind no matter what happened but I guess there are some people who will only be convinced the day I die - when they see that I do not have any biological children the day that I die. :-) I know I will love my own children very, very, very much if I have my own children but I choose not to have them.

    How about you? Is your cousin sister able to convince you to change your mind?

    On another note, genetically the child comes from the parents but a child is a human being with his/her own mind and rights and does not "belong" to their parents. No one human can belong to another human.

    When my husband die, I will have the memories of us being together to keep me company until the day I grow so old that my memories are lost. These memories really belong to us.

  4. Yes Mun, my cousin sis convinced me to have a child. we are planning for baby now. Just leave it to nature, if we get, we get. If not, then it's ok. I just feel that it's time to move into another stage of experience in life. Both me and my hubby knows that our lives will change once we have a baby. Well, whatever will be, will be. :)

  5. Have you considered adopting a child? In fact, after last yr's china sichuan earthquake, i did signed up for a child adoption. But I didn't get it.

  6. Hi Mun,

    Thanks for sharing comments and dropping by my blog. From there I came to read this post of yours and it got me thinking too. I have not thought so much about baby yet and can't be sure like you.

    However, I totally agree with you about having the memories of just two of us together growing old even though without child. If you have seen the movie UP, then you will know how much I agree with you there. I also wish I can be just like the couple in that movie, growing old together and loving each other until death does us apart.

  7. Purple~MushRooM : All the best! Hope you get what both of you want. Good that you have considered child adoption. It is more challenging than having your own child. You may be interested to read about this sad news about child adoption where a couple returned a child they adopted 7 years ago

  8. Hello Jennifer,

    You're welcome! Thanks for reading my blog. In a way, I think you and your spouse must have thought about whether now is the right time for a baby yet, right? (when deciding whether to use contraceptives or just leave it to nature) ;) Sorry for touching on this intimate issue. Sometimes it is good to just live for now and not plan too far ahead. :)

    I have not watched the movie UP yet but I heard it is good so I will watch it soon when the DVD is out.

  9. Actually we haven't seriously thought about baby or when we want to have. We did have those talk but both of us think the time is not now or anytime soon. I want to concentrate on my postgrad and my hubby always worries about the money part. So right now, we are quite satisfied and enjoyed our couple life. Hehe! Of course the families do not think so but we just dilly dally with excuses.

    You should seriously watch UP. I love that movie. It's so touching and meaningful to me.

  10. i stumbled upon ur blog when i read Lilian's blog... although i dont comment in her blog (shhh... don't tell her)but i can't help but to comment here. Ur post actually inspired me to be braver in life and not let ppl put u down.


  11. I totally agree with you!!! I've been bombarded with similar questions after being married for just 2 YEARS!!

    I personally believe it is very hard to stop people from wondering. It is human nature to be curious but there is a limit.

    In this age and time, I certainly think as a women, we have lots more choice and determine what we want to do in our life.

  12. Hello Steph, thanks for visiting my blog. I can't wait to read your train adventure next month! Safe journey!

    April, ok, I won't tell Lilian :)

    Jennifer, yes, I will definitely watch UP. I think I will like it based on what you said.

  13. Hey Mun,

    You are very lucky to find someone of the same thought on 'having children' issue. Way to go..!

  14. Redbabe, yes, I have to remind myself of this whenever I get angry at him over little things. lol! Thanks for dropping by.

  15. Hey Mun, I am on the same boat as you. Not planning to have any child, so do my spouse. Totally understand the situation how everybody around you keep telling you must have a child to have a complete life as a woman etc etc.

  16. fish fish, let us stay firm with our decision and not succumb to the pressure.

  17. I haven't got any plans yet. I have a lot of things I want to achieve in life, and having a child is not something that I have on my list at the moment. It may change or it may not. Both hubs and I are happy just the way we are at the moment, we enjoy each other's company and gives us time to think what else we could do with our live apart from worrying where the next bacon will come from (kids cant go hungry).
    Like you said correctly, as educated women we should be allowed to have the freedom of choice to be child-free or not. :)

  18. miracle8, very true indeed, we adults can go hungry but children can't.

  19. Yet another riveting post!

    My mother herself had 4 children and to be absolutely honest, I think she often wonders why she did.

    Raising children in this day and age is phenomenal. We have not only less time, we need more money to raise children properly. It all seems to much of a hassle to me!!

    Having said that, I often wonder if I would be a good mother. It's easy to picture yourself mothering a small baby/child but what about when they are in their teens/early adulthood?

    Is it just because I'm selfish?
    Too much work? Not commited enough?

  20. Hello Catty Pants, on the contrary, many people chose to have children for selfish reasons - to look after them in old age, for the cute baby to add joy to their lives and etc. Many do not think that far ahead, to the time when the baby turns into a teenager. For you to wonder if you would be a good mother shows that you are not selfish at all.

  21. Hi dear, decided to comment here because I don't check in often enough. Will subscribe after I post this too...

    Some of those questions are undoubtedly really dumb. All in all however, this (dumb questions and all) was very thought provoking for me - why did I decide I would have kids, (mummy blogger that I am some more)? Truth is, it was always an assumption I would. I was "aggressively" raised to have kids when the time came. My mother always wanted me to have 3 (after my first it then went up to 4, now they seem super happy with my 2 :P) and one day shortly after walking out of a serious relationship while he was literally driving down an expressway in Singapore (opened the car door, everyone in the car screamed at me and he quickly pulled up first chance he got) I realized I had at the time wanted 3 because he and my mum wanted 3.

    So then I went through a period of not wanting any, or maybe just one. Maybe none.

    I married someone who always wanted a few and since I didn't mind either way, family's nice and all that, I was back to one or two. Thing is, I am prescribed The Pill pretty much long term for health reasons so to actually choose to try for a child means actively getting off the pill. Yet I wasn't sure when if ever.

    Then, despite being on the Pill consistently for 5 years, I got rundown at work, couldn't stop heavy spotting between periods, so stopped the pill to stop the spotting, and then resume. That's how I got pregnant. So much for conscious choice to have kids.

    Pregnancy came and went, and incredibly comfortable and pleasant experience - but the day my son came was the day I knew, just KNEW a love and life that would never be the same again. I can't describe it that well but knowing who I was before the kids and right up to when my eldest came out who I was after.............

    That whole long thing was to say you are stronger in character than I ever was back then - I don't even know for sure if I REALLY wanted kids or not. I was swayed by everyone around me only. I only knew irrevocably what I wanted after the kids came. But i will never really know what my heart was before.

    1. Thanks Aileen for sharing your thoughts and story.