To breed or not to breed, question that ‘must’ be answered

We met a ‘married’ lady a few days back. The usual boring session of introducing each other followed where no one was actually interested to know who’s who.

Someone asked her, “So, how many children do you have?”

“None”, she said.

An uncomfortable silence prevailed. Awkwardly, everybody tried to change the topic of the conversation. After a while, when the ‘childless’ woman left, one woman was heard saying to another with a fictitious pity in her voice, “The poor woman has no child. How sad that is! I wonder what the problem might be.”

This incident is a proof of the fact that in our society, it is given that marriage should follow procreation. If someone decides against this norm, they find themselves under scrutiny everywhere.

Why is it like this? Why is it assumed that if someone marries, they ought to have a child a couple of years later, ideally just after nine months otherwise a barrage of questions and questioning eyes follow the couple everywhere, mostly the woman. One does not marry just to have children.

Who says that every married couple should have a child? In the earlier times having as many children, cattle, and wives used to be a status symbol; 20 children, 6 wives, and 54 cows.

Now times have changed. These days people decide to become parents because of various reasons- they love kids, they want to adhere to the tradition, they wish to continue their progeny, they love the idea of their child fulfilling the dream, which they themselves were never able to accomplish, or may be just to please others.

No Kidding

If some individuals choose to remain childless, they are supposed to provide an explanation as to why they decided not to have children. On the other hand, no one expects any kind of explanation from individuals who decide to have children. A childless couple is pitied because it is very conveniently assumed that if individuals do not have children, it is because either they are still thinking of having one, are infertile, are too selfish, or maybe they will change their mind someday.

Whatever the reason might or might not be, they are always obligated to furnish an explanation. However, no one asks a ‘proud parent’ that why they decided to have a child. Hence, this cross of justification is carried perpetually on the backs of those people who have taken an ‘unconventional’ path and decided not to have a child.

The burden of justification, in an ideal world should lie on those people who decide to procreate, and not on those who choose to be childless. Isn’t creating a life more worthy of an explanation than not creating one?

The individuals who give birth to a child are bringing into this world another human being who is dependant, weak, helpless, and vulnerable. Therefore, individuals who decide not to have children are taking a path, which is easy and less perilous because having a child means that you have to take responsibility for that child for at least next 20 or more years to come or may be for eternity.

This world is already an ideal place for misery and hardships. Corruption, castism, child abuse, rapes, female feticide, this world is full of pain, why drag an innocent soul unnecessarily to this circus?

Having a child is a life transforming decision and it is not the same as your decision of education, career, and marriage because such decisions can be easily revoked. Once you bring a child into this world, there is absolutely no looking back. Procreating is more than just a biological inclination because if it were so, we would have been no different from animals. It is about taking responsibility for another human being whose future might be at risk.

It’s not an endorsement of childlessness and criticism of those who have children. It is an argument for the need to contemplate deeply about this vital aspect of human life. Moreover, these days procreation is becoming more and more of a choice because of the easy availability of contraceptives. Thus, people are taking such decisions; they are choosing not to have children.

Bringing a life on this earth is one of the most important decisions of an individual’s life and it should be treated so.

Likewise, deciding not to have a child is an equally respectable decision and it should be treated so.

All of us need to think seriously about every single decision of our lives, having a child, being one of them. One should not have a child because everyone is having one. In order to have someone to take care of you in old age should not be one of the selfish reasons to have a child. If one wishes to have a child, it should be given a serious thought. Why exactly you decide to bring a life on this earth, this question must be answered.

Every time you switch on the television and see little kids as young as 5 or 6 years old innocently gyrating to the beats of “Sheila ki jawani” (there’s a lot of trash going around, ‘choose carefully’) to win a dance competition, just wonder whether becoming a dancer was the parents’ dream or the child’s dream.

Ask yourself, what the child’s dream might be.

Ask yourself, what other things this child is besides being a magnificent dancer.

Ask yourself, whether you want an engineer, a doctor, a singer, a dancer or just a son (a daughter in some ‘exceptional cases’)

To procreate or not to procreate, there has got to be a solid reason because bringing or not bringing life to this world should not be just whim,  pleasure, or a mistake.

6 Comments

  • Good one Thakur Sahiba I would request you to read “Shri Madbhagwatam” and then have your say on Marriage & necessity of Reproduction.

  • Thanks for your suggestion. Reproduction is necessary, I agree. But still it needs to be questioned like everything else. This article just puts forth a question and a thought. It is, I reiterate, not condemning either marriage or reproduction. I will read the book you mentioned one day, but till then this article will remain my say on reproduction. Thanks for taking the time out.

  • It is a question which need not be asked in the first instance. It is entirely for the couple whether to have a child or not. No third person comes into picture. If the majority in the society thinks that the end product of a successful marriage is a few kids, it is entirely at its liberty to think so. What can be done? The majority in any society has always a standardized way of thinking. If a couple decides to do something different, it is their freedom to do so. It is just like two freedoms meeting and deciding to chart their own course in life without infringing upon the freedom of others. The society is the way it is. Some people are going to ask the couple about the reason for the different decision. The couple does not owe any explanation to anybody. How they face the uncalled for questions depends entirely on the strength of their convictions. In short I want to stress that the freedom of a couple to decide to have it or not is absolute.
    The very fact that this question has arisen in the mind of the author proves that this idea is already in the air. There are some hard core professional couples who even can not think of having kids because it will interfere with their professons which they love with all their heart and soul. Old ideas are bound to change with time. This idea, too, will become acceptable in time.

  • A nice read indeed. The article deserves accolades simply because it questions the established norms of society, something that requires, and in turn confirms, the presence of a ‘thinking’ mind behind the scheme of things. ‘Thinking’ has become a rare phenomenon,in true sense of the term since all we do all our lives is what we are taught to or may be what we are expected to. The world has become a zombieland sort of.
    Any idea that challenges an extant social proposition is liable to persecution, with your line of thought being no exception. To breed or not to is a matter of personal choice, no doubt. It should always be that way. But being a part of society has its own perils. You are going to be judged all the time with respect to the norms that have taken years to concretise. No matter how logical and rational be the side you put forward, the scales are always going to be tilted against you. The simple reason being that society abhors non-conformity and the non-conformist (often labeled as Rebel) is persistently denigrated. As far my understanding of society goes, the non-conformists have always made invaluable contribution by putting up defiance to whatever they regard as absurd, arbitrary, erratic, senseless, invalid or inconsistent with the changing times. They provide matter to society to ponder over which often needs a shake-up to get out of the rut. Complacency requires the wake-up pill.
    The world today is not one of the best places to live in and it does need ‘a change’. A change in thoughts, perceptions,behaviour and ways of thinking. The status quo has to be altered. It takes courage to repudiate the order of the day and on that front, the article does deserve kudos. The profound ruminations on life, personal choices, use of discretion, world and its ills are laudable.

    To sum it all up in one sentence – A brave foot forward.

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