As society evolves, the outlook on traditional marriage and child bearing for women is changing. We now know the idea of happily ever after is—and always was—a dysfunctional myth. Recent reports indicate that marriage in America on the decline with more and more women opting to remain childless.
CHILDREN AND MARRIAGE
A “selfish,” pessimist that does not care for children, I am not. The experience of childbirth and adding another human being to an overpopulated planet—with every kind of problem from economic disparity to racial injustice and genetically engineered food to global warming—never made it on my list of goals.
When it comes to matrimony, I’m not against the idea at all. In fact, I believe the institution can be utopia if it’s a solid, equally yoked union, and at the end of the day you’re still best friends. I just haven’t come across that someone that I’m willing to make a lifetime of compromises with. And if you were brought up like me—and taught that divorce is not an option and you’re hitched till death shall you part—you tread cautiously.
So I was speaking to a young woman on a movie set the other day who shared her anxiety about getting married and having children. I actually felt bad for her wondering why she felt so pressured to do either. She later revealed to me that she was forty (though she didn’t look a day over 25, 28 the most) and given the paucity of eligible, responsible men, she was scared she’d end up unmarried and childless.
The woman was surprised to learn of my single, childless status. After responding to a dozen questions, I began to feel a shift of relief about her. Meeting a woman like me who went against societal expectations—one who is spiritually alive, psychologically sound, socially engaged and in fact happy—gave her a different outlook.
THE DECISION TO PROCREATE SHOULD BE YOURS
During lunch the woman explained how the root of her desire to get married and have children came from outside influences rather than within. So I’ve heard this sentiment more times than I can count. Contrary to popular belief, all women are not born with the maternal instinct. Therefore, the scripture that tells us to “be fruitful and multiply” has to be a blessing, not a commandment. Electing to have children requires emotional, educational and financial preparation, biological timing and a whole lot of sacrifice. To that I say, “No thank you.”
Bringing a child into existence is a “life and death” decision. It means putting the person you were as a single (or married) adult to rest. Not to mention the lifelong obligation of parenting that comes without any instructions. Look, I may decide to become an influence in a child’s life one day, but until such time, I’m contented. Purposeful living remains at the top of my list of priorities. I want to live the dream and be an inspiration to others. That’s a kind of parenting that has global reach, wouldn’t you say?