Having children is somewhat a social norm, something many women (and men) around the world want to have at some point in their life. It's strange to meet a woman who doesn't want to have children. But why?
Jessica Handler tells Newsweek that she has decided not to have children because she has a 67%chance of passing on a rare blood disorder, and because children remind her of the sister she lost to that disease. It's hard to read things like Handler's loss (who lost another sister to leukemia) because she feels stigmatized by a decision that was obviously very difficult to make.
She writes, "Our culture presumes that a grown woman's true responsibility is motherhood. We're obsessed with babies, even as we expect career success, hot sex and designer style. [...] While few can pull off parenthood with the glamour of Hollywood stars, the underlying message is hard to ignore: if you're not having a baby and enjoying it, something's wrong with you." Unfortunately motherhood seems to prove how complete you are as a person instead of bringing up complete, happy people.
Anna Quindlen however, writes about how parenting is "easy." She backs this up with results of studies showing that parents who go for training to gain skills have healthier, better-adjusted kids. Quindlen argues that good child-rearing is a learned skill instead of an instinct. She writes:
"The prevailing ethos about being a parent is that it's mostly intuitive
and uniformly joyful, even though the news, and our own lives, are full
of those who found it so conspicuously otherwise that they made an
utter mess of actual human beings. This mythology has two effects. One
is that parents who don't feel happy or competent are made to feel like
freaks-and to just keep quiet about the fact. The other is that this
makes everyone believe not only that anyone can be a parent, but also
that everyone ought to do it, even those who seem by character or
inclination to be ill equipped."
Of course, it's easy to say the "ill equipped" can learn. But this ideology of how kids make your life fulfilled might be pushing people to have them before they're ready. Some people who choose to be independent or have personal fears like Handler may never be ready at all.
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