Do Marriage & Children Still Represent “The Dream Life”?
In terms of relationships, short or long term, every person has their own boundaries, preferences, and expectations. More specifically, regarding the future. There are various reasons as to why people no longer want to get married and/or have children; they want to stay single, focus on themselves, or do not think they are stable enough to commit to raising a child or a significant other. I, personally, want to get married and have children, but I do not think it’s the only purpose people should have in life— and I would not look at someone differently if they didn’t want to have kids or get married.
Growing up, I did believe marriage and kids were the “dream life”, but now, I do realize there is more to life than marriage and children despite still wanting it. Overall, most people are content with the current life they are leading and feel no need to alter that. Clarissa Sawyer, a professor who teaches gender psychology and adult development at Bentley University, states: “[w]omen around the world are getting married later and part of that is because women are getting more educated and investing in their careers.” The reason for this is because with education comes time, responsibility and investment. When people, not just women, spend their days investing their time into something they care about, especially education, they are typically just delaying marriage but not always writing it out of their life completely. In western culture, marriages used to be a (mostly) loveless economic proposition, which later turned into a union between two (or more) lovers.
Essentially, the definition of what marriage entails has become more fluid in the sense that someone may just want to experience the feeling of being in love or in an affectionate partnership. For example, Leslie, a 39 year old woman who is engaged, enjoys that feeling and the experience and devotion associated with it. She explains she is “just not interested in marriage — it’s not something I want or need to do in my life. I’m also not comfortable having an expensive/extravagant event in my honor — I know I wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure of planning a ‘perfect day.’ I realize I could elope, or go to City Hall, but again, marriage won’t change anything in my relationship.”
I essentially agree with this because if someone isn’t planning on raising a family, there is really no need for marriage as it won’t necessarily affect the dynamic of the relationship they’ve built. This brings me to the next topic: children.
To continue, I’d like to restate the fact that I do not view anyone differently for their views on marriage and children, so long as they reciprocate that energy for me. Besides age, many people choose to not have children anymore due to how it could impact their lifestyles, or they are not mentally, physically, or financially stable to care for one. According to the US adoption network, about 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year. In other words, 135, 000 children are given up because certain individuals do not believe they are ready for that type of commitment.
There has always been a stigma surrounding women who choose to not have children; some may even say they are selfish, or self-absorbed. However, is it truly selfish to save a child from a life you may not be ready to provide for them? In more recent generations, many people have developed a fear of passing down their mental illness or “trauma”, so to speak. Those who have battled with multiple mental illnesses have a particular wariness when it comes to bringing children into the world out of the fear that they would pass down the painful experiences, memories, and habits that they have gone through.
Some people do not have children simply because of the pressure that comes with it. A survey conducted by MIC shows how others have responded as to why they do not want children. They claim that they are aware of how much responsibility comes with having a child, which means they would have to deal with putting the child before them and to consistently make good, healthy choices. It is completely normal to not feel up to that challenge and it doesn’t make them selfish at all. These respondents have said it “[i]t overwhelms [them] to think that there would be a tiny little person growing inside of [them], depending on [them to make healthy choices.” and/or “I might fuck them up with horrible parenting.”
Don’t try to make people feel guilty for not wanting to live your idealized version of a perfect life. It is outdated and unfair to assume that each person wants the same thing as you. At the end of the day, no one should have to explain their reasoning. Ultimately, someone’s choice with what they want to do with their body is personal. Just for that reason, another person’s choices shouldn’t matter to anyone else.