Stop Pressuring Me To Have Children

Now that I’m entering my late twenties, I regularly get bombarded with comments about how I must start thinking about having children because having them young is the best time to have them and because, seemingly, nothing I do outside of my ovary function is of any interest to anyone. Being a badass young lady and a fierce feminist with buckets of ambition, you can imagine how frustrating this can be.

To give you an example; I wrote a list of thirty things I want to do before I reach thirty years of age. It features such items as starting a novel, meeting a sloth in person, travelling to Canada, and raising money for charity. In my humble opinion, a lot of the items on this list are pretty interesting challenges for a young lady to be trying to achieve.

Obviously not interesting enough.

I got a comment about the fact that I hadn’t included having children on my list. To say that my feathers were ruffled is quite the understatement. I was furious at the suggestion that all of the things on this list were somehow completely superfluous to what should surely be my real goal; having babies. Aiming for promotion? Boring. Learning an instrument? Why bother. Start preparing my womb to pop out perfectly formed little beings? DING DING!! We have a winner!!

Add to this the fact that I have been in a relationship for ten years and am not yet engaged, married or pregnant, good grief! The incredulous looks I get from people when I proudly state that both Greg and I are too busy doing other things to start on all of this adult stuff makes me feel as though I’m a gnat’s wing away from being immediately placed on bed rest and diagnosed with hysteria.

Now I know there have got to be some ladies reading this who are nodding their heads and reliving every lecture they’ve ever had about having children. There may be women out there who never want children, those who don’t want them right now, those who are unsure and those who may never be able to have children of their own. That is why I’m writing this. I’m telling you that you’re not alone in feeling this immense pressure that your sole purpose as a woman is to have children.

It’s not.

However, knowing this is not enough to arm you against the raft of baby police out there. A sociological argument just isn’t going to cut it in that instance where you’re being told precisely what to do with your reproductive organs (goodness knows I’ve tried). So, here are my suggestions for dealing with those who throw down the baby gauntlet….

from the fringe pressure to have children

The advice giver:

Description: The advice giver is somebody who thinks that they’re doing you a favour by imparting their worldly wisdom. I find that the people most frequently telling me to give birth right this instant are those who regretted having their children late. Fundamentally, this is a kind act because they are trying to give you the insight they never had whilst you still have time to act on it. Sweet, yes, but also annoying.
How to deal: Handle the advice giver with care. Their advice may be irritating but it comes from a well-intentioned place and they are likely to get upset if you are too bristly. Gently remind them that you have other goals to achieve and suggest that you’d love to chat about your ambitions instead.
Stress level: ☹☹☹

The expectant:

Description: The expectant is the person who has decided that you’re at the right time of life to start utilising those reproductive organs instead of just letting them gather cobwebs in there. The expectant has assessed your life situation, like an insurance broker who counts piles of babies instead of piles of money, and determined that if you don’t have children right now you’re basically going against what is expected of you as a person.
How to deal: To get the expectant off your back, you might have to provide an element of justification about why you aren’t in labour already. This is totally unfair but they are unlikely to change their mode of thinking unless you give them an alternative to consider. Tell them about the traveling you’ve been doing, or the promotion you’re going for or the fact that you love how you can just go out on a date without having to think about any little folks.
Stress level: ☹☹☹

The enthusiastic parent:

Description: The enthusiastic parent is the parent of the best child ever created in the whole entire history of the universe, ever. They literally cannot talk, tweet, or Facebook about anything else. Photos are forever shoved under your nose, tales of parenthood are paraded in front of you like a guilt-inducing piñata, usually accompanied with an insistence that you’re missing out.
How to deal: Dealing with the enthusiastic parent is difficult because you simply cannot be rude. There’s a certain amount of etiquette required simply because one of the people involved in creating this child had to perform the equivalent of squeezing a watermelon through a straw. I suggest a jokey-truth; a laugh with a throwaway comment that might just resonate. Something like, “hahaha! God, baby police much?! hahahah” *playful slap of the  leg*
Stress level: ☹☹☹☹

The aggressor:

Description: The aggressor is the person who makes your blood boil, who is relentless in their plight, who is a ninja-master in weaving babies into any conversation. Their aim is direct confrontation, the desire for which is usually borne (excuse the pun, ha) out of falling into all of the above categories. They simply cannot handle your childlessness.
How to deal: If options 1-3 above do not work, you will need to harness your inner badass and get snippy. I’m talking cutting them off mid-sentence when the talk turns to babies, I’m saying walk away if you feel like a grenade about to go off, I’m suggesting being outright honest about how damn inappropriate/offensive/undermining/rude they are being. The knack to being snippy is to maintain decorum at all times. Tempting though it may be, don’t descend into scrappy arguments. Take the moral high-ground and put them in their place.
Stress level: ☹☹☹☹☹

So ladies, I hope I’ve given you some small but useful tools to deal with the tide of baby fanatics out there. Remember though, the most important thing is to remain true to your hopes, dreams and plans at all times. Realising that society expects you to have a baby is half of the battle because you can be prepared for any confrontation you encounter. Even though societal attitudes aren’t going to change radically overnight, being strong in our beliefs, confident in our choices, and take advantage of the freedom afforded to us in deciding when to have children, will help to slowly erode expectations.

You are an awesome chick whether or not you decide to have children. Keep that inner badass close and don’t be afraid to wield when necessary.

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  • Amazing post! I’m a little too young to experience all of this yet, but I did get told once that I should start thinking about babies by the time I’m 25, that’s four years away and much too early for me who hasn’t even really decided if I want kids or not yet! I hate societies expectations of a woman’s reproductive organs go and put a ticking time-bomb on your own life for once, ew.

    Marbl☾☽Moon

    • Thanks so much Ciara, glad you enjoyed it. Honestly, the amount of women who have spoken to me about their experiences of this is crazy! It’s such an issue and I can’t believe how offensive people can actually be about it. Like you, I’m just not really in the mindset to be thinking about children at all right now and people just cannot seem to get their head around it. I might just start asking personal questions about their bodies and see how they like it! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • I’m only 23 and people have told me I should start thinking about babies! But it doesn’t matter what age someone is other people shouldn’t force their ideas onto someone else’s life! If you want to have kids, great! If you don’t, great! It’s your life it’s up to you what you do with it! Great post lovely!

    Ella xx
    http://www.inellaselement.co.uk

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, Ella! It’s entirely up to the person whose body it is to make serious decisions about what they do with that body. I hate the way that people’s opinions about children have to be forced on us like they know what’s best for us. It’s so rude!! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving your thoughts 🙂 xx

  • Elizabeth Hisle

    Yes, this! I was the “breadwinner” for a while. My husband had been laid off and used it as an opportunity to go back to school. Fortunately, that paid off because he got a really good job before he even graduated! I was so excited… only to be bombarded with questions about if we were finally going to conceive. Way to ruin a lovely moment.

    http://waltzandwillow.com/

    • Oh Elizabeth, that is so frustrating! It’s as though all of life’s big events are just gearing up towards eventually having children and, for some people, that simply isn’t the plan. We recently celebrated ten years of being together and bought a house, two pretty big life commitments, and people were like “ooh you’ll be married and having kids before you know it”. I was like “BACK OFF” haha! At least we’ve got each other for solidarity, eh Elizabeth?! Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts!

  • Great post Suzy; this isn’t hugely different for some men too I have to admit, the pressure to settle down and start a family as I am nearing thirty is unreal! What if I don’t want them (I do)? What if I can’t? Why is it anybody’s business? I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment of your post!

    SuburbanGent | Two Men About Town Blog

    • It’s ridiculous isn’t it?! I think it’s just fundamentally rude and the potential for possibly upsetting someone (for various reasons) is quite high! Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  • Julia vdS

    Gasp. And what if you’re ‘slightly’ over the age of 30 (a la me)?