If you’re married, it has probably occurred at least once during your marriage. And, if you have been married for more than a year, I imagine it has happened countless times. I’m talking about pressure applied from family and friends to have a child.
As a 37 year old woman, married for over six years, I have had my fair share of pressure. And although I’ve come to a point in my life when I can deal with that pressure in a healthy and hopefully graceful way, it still bothers me that people feel that pressuring an individual or couple to have a baby is acceptable. Putting pressure on friends or loved ones to have a child is the most inappropriate and selfish thing one can do. If you’ve ever been a victim to this pressure, you know of what I’m speaking. If, however, you have been the one to apply pressure to someone in your life to have a baby, you might want to stop and reevaluate your actions. Chances are you have no idea as to why someone is or isn’t having a baby, and your pressure could be creating unnecessary stress and anxiety for a mom-to-be or a couple:
- Timing: When I’ve been pressured to have a baby and have responded that the timing isn’t right, I’ve had countless people tell me that “there is never a good time” to have a baby. Having a baby absolutely changes a person’s life. And, although there may not always be a perfect time, there are DEFINITELY better times and worse times. The only people who know if they are truly ready to have a baby are the parents-to-be themselves. The “right” timing can involve so many factors, and it is extremely presumptuous for someone to assume when another person’s timeline is right. Timelines can be impacted by financial situations, job situations, emotional readiness, and even, dare I say, couple readiness. Only the couple knows when the timing is right. The people who have the child are inevitably the people raising the child. As a result, they are the ones to know whether or not they are ready to take on the responsibility.
- Age: Yep, as a 37 year old woman who is fast approaching 38, I’ve been privy to many unprofessional and professional opinions that I need to get on the baby wagon. Although I agree having a child when you are younger is more ideal physically, I would never argue that it is always better mentally, financially or personally. I recently learned that my grandmother had my mother at the age of 39. And this was in the 1940s. If she could do it, I can do it. And you know what, a lot of other women can, and do, do it. If a woman waits it is her prerogative. If she finds that she waited too long, it is for her to deal with, not the rest of the world.
- Biology: A friend of mine, at the age of 26, confided that her in-laws pressured her relentlessly to pop out a grandchild. Unbeknownst to them, she had three miscarriages during this time. She was devastated. Their constant pressure only made the situation more stressful. Complications with having a baby isn’t always tied to age. I know 22 year olds, 28 year olds, 33 year olds and 40 year olds who have either had trouble conceiving or had miscarriages. Putting pressure on couples who have difficulty conceiving or difficulty coming to term is insensitive and hurtful. Chances are if a couple has lost a child, they are not spreading the word for public consumption. Further, if a couple physically can’t have a child, pointing it out to them over and over again is unnecessarily painful.
- Choice: Although I have no doubt that there are individuals who would be appalled to read this, having a child is not for everyone. If a couple decides that they don’t want children, then it is their choice. I applaud couples who make the conscious decision to abstain from having a child instead of bringing an unwanted child into the world. The world is overpopulated as it is, do we need to make it worse by expecting people to have children when they don’t want them?
My husband and I may or may not have a child one day. For numerous reasons, we’ve not had one. Whether we do or not is our personal situation and personal choice.
Have you been pressured to have a child? What was your response?