General Question

SergeantQueen's avatar

Why is having children or getting married almost seen as a necessity?

Asked by SergeantQueen (8960points) 1 week ago

Why is it that when I say I don’t want children I get told “Oh, you’ll change your mind”???? I get I’m 19 but I literally hate the idea of having kids. It doesn’t seem beautiful to me and I do not want to take care of them! It is for purely selfish reasons too. I do not want to be bothered with having to look after another human being, plus I feel like with me having depression and all kinds of other issues I’d either pass it to my child or it would just make me a shit parent. I would rather save someone else from dealing with that because I wouldn’t handle parenthood well at all. It just makes me feel gross thinking about carrying a child in my stomach for 9 months. Don’t even get me started on childbirth.

Also, why is the same said for people who don’t want marriage? Why is “You’ve been together for 7 years and aren’t married yet? How?” a question? Why can’t people just live together without making it legally official? I don’t have plans to get married. Never really thought of it but if it happens, it happens I guess. I’m not as opposed to marriage as I am with me personally having kids.

I just feel bad for those who choose to do neither and people look at them like something is wrong with them. I don’t hate children just wouldn’t want them of my own.
I suppose since these things have been the norm for EVER it’s going to be hard to make it just as normal to do neither.

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54 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

Its societal pressure for both sexes. As if a mini-me is the ultimate goal in life, or getting married. Then the disappointment from family when they figure out your serious. Guilt trips.
I highly recommend disregarding what anyone wants except you and your mate. Run with it. To be your own hero in life is pretty amazing.
I was lucky to have an aunt and two uncles who chose the path less travelled and they had amazing lives.

SergeantQueen's avatar

It is for both sexes. And it’s stupid. Yeah, I’m going to do my own thing. it’s my life, after all…

SergeantQueen's avatar

BUT the constant criticism you see IS annoying… But I noticed my generation + millennial are getting married and having kids less than previous generations. So the stigma is ending with newer gens.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Sergeant Its pretty great in many ways, but there are a few times I’ve wondered if it was best. My mom has no grands in her old age. I didnt get any of the love and joy from a child. For me, its ok, but no mommy groups, PTA, playdates etc..is really hard on some women. Psychologically we’re groomed to be wives and mothers so it can be daunting.

canidmajor's avatar

Prepare for a boatload of crap for defying the norm. I chose not to marry, and I chose to have a child as a single parent. Over thirty years later I am still getting crap for that.

Yeah, you may, indeed, change your mind, and you might not.

If you take steps to ensure that you won’t get pregnant (tying your tubes for example) try to find a doctor, (most likely a woman who will have a better understanding of your position) who will not question your choices. They may make you sign a waiver. If you balk at that, they may well choose not to do any procedure.

It is enormously frustrating that people get weird, judgmental, and accusatory about the life choices that you make that will literally have no negative effect (or any effect at all) on their lives.

Little tip from someone who’s been there: try not to engage with people who want to get up in your face. They won’t listen and will call you names.

However this plays out, I wish you luck with your life choices.

SergeantQueen's avatar

@candidmajor I try to avoid answering the question “Do you want kids?” whenever possible. I always get the same response.

Sagacious's avatar

You get to choose how you want to live your life. You owe no one an explanation. That’s all.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Because at 7,000,000,000+ there just aren’t enough fucking people on this planet.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@SergeantQueen for the first ten years of our marriage her side of the family harassed us about having kids, my mother in law went as far as to tell my wife that I would leave her if she didn’t have children soon.
My mother in law didn’t know I had the snip two years into our marriage, at the ten year mark they just said one day you are not going to have children are you?
they finally got the message .
People went over board telling us it was selfish not to have children, I asked how does that make us selfish, no one could answer.
Not having children was the best decision Mrs Squeeky and I ever did.
I do realize having children can be the biggest blessing in your life , BUT it also can be the biggest curse .
At 19 you are really young you might meet the guy of your dreams and he may be hell bent on having kids and you will give in.
But if you really mean it tell guys you are with early on you have no intention of having kids ever and if that bothers them they should get out now.
Just remember you don’t want accidents either so practice good safe birth control, because most doctors won’t tie your tubes until your in your thirties or have a couple kids, good luck.

canidmajor's avatar

@SergeantQueen For a while you should be able to get away with answering “Not yet, I’m still so young!” Then change the subject quickly.

SergeantQueen's avatar

Yeah being young helps. It isn’t expected. I imagine in my later 20s, assuming I think the same way, is where it would get hard. But I don’t owe explanations @Sagacious you are right

KNOWITALL's avatar

@canidmajor People finally have stopped. I’m 46. Haha!
The peace, quiet and money, ability to chase dreams, all of it is a great payoff. My dogs fulfill my instict to mother.

canidmajor's avatar

Ah, but @Sagacious, knowing that we don’t owe explanations, and dealing with people who are honestly concerned about your choosing a different-than-expected life are two very different things. There are a lot of people that I had no desire to be belligerent in response to, and it’s a fine fine line between standing up for oneself and pissing everybody off.

YARNLADY's avatar

Sometimes, when people are very happy with their marriage and kids, it’s easy to believe that others are missing out on it. It’s common to think that what makes me happy will make you happy too.

Just say “I’m glad you’re happy with your life, and I’m happy with mine too.” Don’t take their concern as judgmental.

SergeantQueen's avatar

@YARNLADY I guess that’s true. Yeah, it’s easy to assume sometimes that the path you took should be the path everyone takes just because it provided you with what you want in life. It’s also easy to forget that people have different life goals.

SEKA's avatar

When they ask, reply Why you want to know?_or _Why does it bother you? You put them on the defensive and they stop asking. I only ever had 1 person challenge me with my question and I took that opportunity to explain that I found their question to be extremely rude as well as offensive since it was none of their business. If it pisses them off, so be it. Better they have hurt feelings than you

cookieman's avatar

My advice? Only marry someone you consider your best friend. If they’re not, don’t bother.

If you want to become a parent (whether you’re married or not), adopt. There’s enough children on the planet already. Many without parents.

You don’t need to be married to be whole. You don’t need to get pregnant to be a parent. Your genes aren’t that special.

And, if you’re confident you don’t want to be a parent, then don’t. And those who try to pressure you can fuck off.

gondwanalon's avatar

Mature romantic love between a man and a woman is the highest form of human existence.

It takes two to make it happen and it’s hard to find the right one.

Good health.

cookieman's avatar

@gondwanalon: So, by that logic, mature romantic love between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is somehow less than?

Or those who remain single can never achieve this “highest form of human existence”?

SergeantQueen's avatar

I hope I’d fall in love with someone who wouldn’t be hell bent on things I don’t like though.That’s already happened once and I wasn’t happy in the relationship so I hope I could meet someone with a similar mindset. As I get older, it would be something I’d mention right away but right now it wouldn’t matter unless things got serious.

Patty_Melt's avatar

When I was about your age, I had a tubal pregnancy.
The doctor said I would probably never have a baby.
People constantly asked me why I was in the Navy, and I should be at home making babies. Like it was the same as baking sugar cookies. Go home and make babies.
It was none of their business. It was rude. It hurt me deeply.

It is a sign of their primitive thinking. But just know that when you get bothered by those simpletons, they are just primitive thinkers.

Sending you (((hugs))).

gondwanalon's avatar

@cookieman You understand what I wrote correctly.

SergeantQueen's avatar

@Patty_Melt That’s why questions such as these just shouldn’t be asked. You never know someones full reasoning/ situation. I’m sorry people were so rude about it.

cookieman's avatar

@gondwanalon: Thought so. Wow.

kritiper's avatar

It’s out of fashion. In the old days, it was probably seen as a social plus, a way of being accepted in society. Being married made a man look settled, dependable. A wife could help around the house and produce children who could also help out around the place, and could be in her own place instead of being in the place of her mother and father, doing work for them.

JLeslie's avatar

Do whatever you want, it’s your life. You are young though you might change your mind, but you might not.

As far as marriage goes, most married people feel like the commitment of marriage does change the relationship. That it’s not the same as living together. It’s not that you can’t be just as committed, obviously the promise and love for each other is between the people not the government sanctioning it, but still, I do agree being married is somehow different in my own experience. I think it’s completely fine if you never get married though. There are positives never marrying. Everything has positives and negatives. My aunt and sister never married. Neither my aunt, sister, nor myself had any children.

As far as children, people worry you might regret not having them, or they enjoy their own kids so much that they don’t want you to miss the experience. All sorts of reasons people are being dismissive with your decision not to have children. Having read how you feel about children I think you are right not to have them. I never had children (although I did want them) and in many ways my life was easier and more carefree than my friends with children.

I actually know a lot of people who never had children, I’m in my 50’s, there are a bunch of us. My one piece of advice is save your money. You don’t have the expense of children, but you also won’t have them to help you when you are older. There is no guarantee your kids will help you anyway, but usually one of the children is at least somewhat helpful or protective. You will only have money and possibly nieces and nephews or siblings to make sure you are being treated well, or to help with financial matters if you are incapacitated in some way, and can’t speak for yourself. Friends can help with this too, but as you all age people start to die, and typically family is who comes through during dire times.

It doesn’t just have to be health, it can be a bump in the road financially. My in-laws lived with me for a few months when they had to sell their house. The more family the more safety net in that way (usually) BUT like I said there is no guarantee.

Plus, not just bad health, but just generally having family around. Being lonely is depressing to most people. Grandchildren especially are very much enjoyed by most people.

Certainly, having children should not be done just because of old age worries, but it’s part of what a lot of people factor in as they age.

raum's avatar

Biological imperative.

Also perhaps a good helping of ego and hubris that you will be able to do a better job of raising tiny humans than the generation before you.

gorillapaws's avatar

Reproduction is necessary for propagating the species. It’s kind of obvious why a society would build a culture that encourages marriage and reproduction. That’s why it’s considered “normal” to follow this life plan. Just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean you have any obligation to go with the grain. That said, it’s common for other people to judge others for being different.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I think others judged us out of jealousy ,by not having children we paid off all our debts, might be able to retire before we die,life is a lot simpler.
and @gorillapaws who says having kids is the normal, you should only have children because you and your partners heart is totally into it, your ready to devote your life to your kids, not because society says it’s the norm.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Just curious what you would say about the married part? Do you think living together is the same as marriage? Are you grateful to be married rather than single?

Inspired_2write's avatar

I would think that marriage was a public notification of a committed long term relationship but without that it looks like one or both start out as unsure that they have found there true love?

Some just live with a partner until they find the love of a partner that satisfies the need for perfect union with a soul mate, then they leave the live in.
It smacks of uncertainty and not a good sign of a committed partnership.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Not sure how one must get the state involved to validate their committed relationship.

JLeslie's avatar

In recent history the state being involved in marriage helped protect women financially who were at a disadvantage in the work force, and who most often cared for their children. Women had some protections in the case of divorce for their spouse to be legally obligated to at least partially support them or their children. Before DNA testing most women, including me, would warn not to have a baby without being married.

if you have ever watched Judge Judy you know living together. And mixing finances when not married can be problematic when the relationship doesn’t work out.

There was/is a downside to marriage that women sometimes had less power in the relationship though. Less psychological power. I think it was Goldie Hawn who said I don’t need to get married, because I have my own money. However, if you have ever read the series of books of the Millionaire Next Door, marriage seems to help achieve wealth in life. For sure if my husband and I divorced, and everything was split in half, our individual wealth would drop dramatically. My wealth would be less than his within a few years since he is the breadwinner.

Also, about less power, women 100 years ago had much less power in marriage, since they were basically owned by their spouses, women were at the mercy of their husband being decent and fair, and society encouraged men to not be, especially religion reinforced this. Then the states stepped in and started to fix it.

Everything above I’m talking about America.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Marriage was super important to Mrs Squeeky, @JLeslie and all I knew is I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, so I had no problem with getting married , I am just super glad she was ok with the no kids thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 Do you think if you had been an unmarried couple all of this time that your relationship would be the same? Or, marriage adds to the unity, or some other aspect, maybe you would use a different word than unity.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I don’t really know I would like to think so.
WE are totally committed to each other so married or not, I do love being married to her.

JLeslie's avatar

^^Most people I know in happy marriages love being married to each other as you said. I think that’s why people tell the OP not to completely throw away the idea. But, as you also said you probably don’t have to be married to feel the same. It’s the same reason some people with children want others to have children, they love being parents.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I have never understood the compulsion certain people have on the necessity of bearing children. As a practical matter, it is obviously essential to the society that children are born; but on a personal level there are few undertakings more fraught with responsibility, hazard, obligation or expense than the decision to bear and rear children. The terrifying and assured long term economic consequences to such decisions alone should be discouragement enough from assuming the risks. Our plunging birth rates testify to the brutal reality of this, as the child poverty rate climbs inexorably along with accelerating single parent (poor) households.

Sagacious's avatar

@canidmajor Grow up and piss them all off, then go and live YOUR life…I emphasize that this one wild and crazy life is yours to live as you will. People get over it when they see you doing your own thing. And yes, expect jealousy…...even from a parent who didn’t have the nerve to do what you do.

canidmajor's avatar

@Sagacious I did that with my family of origin, who were not well meaning people. This (and I speak from experience) is not a hill worth dying on. Learning to pick your battles is growing up.

ucme's avatar

It isn’t!
This is not 1965.

Sagacious's avatar

@canidmajor Do your own thing and put a few hills between you and your family/baggage. My answer is the right one if you want to be happy. You don’t have to have battles with anyone….just go do your thing. Your response to me is simply trying to justify weakness. I wish you well.

canidmajor's avatar

^^^Spoken from a place of no experience. That’s OK, in a hypothetical world. We all have different levels of complexity in our world views.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Sagacious And remember, many of us raised in the 70’s and later, were not raised with the same ‘goals’ as previous generations.

Even for me, it wasn’t easy telling my mother or MIL/family (even his brothers), we weren’t having kids without a twinge of guilt.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Why would you feel guilty of not having children?
My inlaws tried to make us feel guilty but it never worked.
Amazing enough my family once told never brought it up again just said it was our choice and could understand in this day and age of not wanting children.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Because I deprived my mother of rockin babies in her old age haha. In my area its not very common, everything is centered around family and kids.

My husband and I skipped the traditional wedding, too. Barely let our moms come tbh, we just do our thing. It drives both familys crazy a little bit. Ha!

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Unless they are paying all your bills,then let them go crazy.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@SQUEEKY Yes we still disappoint them quite often by not giving in to the guilt trips.

We had conflicting events for Christmas and my MIL is still pissy we skipped hers, which changed dates two days before. Sigh. Never win anyway, may as well be happy!

Bootsiebaby's avatar

Who said it is?

SergeantQueen's avatar

@Bootsiebaby I haven’t had to really deal with too many people asking me if I want kids, then getting pissed when I say I don’t because I’m only 19. But I’ve see others get harassed over it, and even if it isn’t always verbally said, it’s the mindset of a large amount of people in society.
Here is an interesting Wikipedia entry called Voluntary Childlessness
Here is an article about Jennifer Aniston and her choice to not have kids
Here is an article that talks about why people think it’s a bad choice to not have children The last one isn’t “anti-childless people” It’s just a few reasons they think people should have kids, while respecting those who don’t.

Patty_Melt's avatar

@Bootsiebaby, see my post above.

Bootsiebaby's avatar

@SergeantQueen: “then getting pissed when I say I don’t because I’m only 19”

May I ask why that is an excuse for people to get drunk?

Where I live, people have children if they want them, but plenty choose not to. It’s not seen as a necessity here, it’s a personal choice like everything else.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Bootsie Where are you generally? Sounds great. I would love to visit a childfree community.

Bootsiebaby's avatar

@KNOWITALL It’s not a child-free community, it’s just that there isn’t the “pressure” on people to have children. It’s not regarded as 100% necessary but yes, some of us do have children. I have a teenage son myself.

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