Mother or not, I am a person.
According to society, our adult lives must follow a very specific formula. Get educated, get a job, find a partner, get married, have children, retire then die. If anyone decides to do anything a little differently, they are seen as a pariah, peculiar, a disappointment to their family and even a failure in life. Even though the person may be very comfortable with their life choices and their decisions, society will not let them rest in peace without inappropriate, weighted questions.
It might be, “when will you find yourself a boyfriend/ girlfriend?” Or when you do, “When will you get married?” The second they’re married; a new question arises – “when will you have children?” And the list goes on. Nothing will ever satisfy the societal norms, and this burden of expectations is passed on for generations without even realising the harm and mental exhaustion you are causing.
Can we all just stop a minute, analyse the enormity of such weighted questions and just stop? Most people don’t realise it, but everyone fights their silent battles every day and come out smiling. Your question, as innocent as it may seem to you, may be triggering their traumas. I could focus on a lot of these questions but let’s take an example of just one question – when will you have children?
FIRSTLY, NO COUPLE IS OBLIGATED TO HAVE CHILDREN. EVER.
It’s an archaic attitude that we are all here to procreate and then die; we all have right to live our lives without having to contribute to the circle of life if we so choose. Having children is not a milestone, and if somehow they are pressured into having them and are not prepared to be parents, yet again society will blame the parents.
Many parents will know that it doesn’t even stop when you actually have a baby as immediately the “when are you giving them a brother or sister?” questions start, which can be equally insensitive, prying and infuriating. But above all this, the weighty question could be the catalyst for all kinds of emotions, and no one knows the battles faced in someone’s private life and nor should they.
Cases of miscarriages and stillbirth are common and life shattering and rarely something that one will broadcast outside of the closest people to them. It is agonising and not a topic that anyone would ever want to address in the form of small talk at a party or get together. Chances are, if you are one of those people that go around asking others when they’re going to get a move on and start a family, you have probably hit a very exposed and sensitive nerve. It’s not possible to imagine the pain of having lost a baby – or more than one – and then having to brave it out when asked why you haven’t had a baby yet.
Infertility is more common by the day in both men and women. It is disturbing and excruciating for both the partners. When confronted with the question, no one wants to have to explain that they planned for it long ago and are still coming to terms with the fact that it will never happen for them.
Not everyone CAN have a child and for people this affects having it slapped in their face during every other conversation means that the struggle just gets even worse.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA THE WOUNDS YOU COULD BE OPENING BY ASKING WHEN THEY PLAN TO START A FAMILY. JUST DON’T ASK. EVER
But this is not the reason you should choose to not ask these questions. Even if there are no issues at play, it’s just infuriating to think that we all still seem expected to follow a pattern. In a modern society where every life and situation is different, why should it be deemed odd that a couple in their 30s don’t have children?
Some people have children young; some people have them old. Some have them while single, some have them while married, some never get married and have them and some never have them at all. And some simply can’t have children and do not need constant reminder of it.
Mind you, I am not against society and its norms. It may be good for some people who like normality and a standard to their lives. The aspect that is wrong is when someone forces another person to follow this and reminds them they are not on the path to fulfil this standard constantly.
If you are a person who gets asked these questions - a legitimate answer should be – ‘it’s none of your business.’ If you are content in your life choices, there is no need for you to explain them to others.
Even if we are a bystander to these vexatious questions, it is time to take a stand for others and not be compliant to hurting other people. In any way we can, we must try to help those in need to heal and support them to rise above these questions.
If you are one of those people who have asked these questions before – there is no shame in accepting you were wrong and now you know better to not to do it to anyone else in the future.