Not Having Kids: Not Now, Or Not Ever?

Image credits: Ines Pang

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Have you ever received cute baby Telegram stickers from your friend, which spurs you to love kids even more? What about variety shows like ‘The Return of Superman‘ and ‘Where are We Going, Dad?’, where kids seem to be extraordinarily adorable? Beyond those, sometimes, we don’t even have to look that far to witness lovable children in action. I’ve had my fair share of family gatherings where nieces and nephews congregate in the living room… cheerily munching on snacks and playing board games.

Undeniably, kids are everywhere and bombarding our lives. As university students transition to adulthood, it isn’t uncommon for us (especially attached souls) to bring up the topic of children and family in meal-time conversations casually. Fundamentally, the topic of having children is increasingly discussed. And of course, I’m here today to share my take on it. 

Religiously Rejecting Children in the Past 

To be frank, unlike the majority who are enthusiastic, passionate and keen on having kids, I’ve never really been appealed by the thought of having children. I’d even confess that there was a period of time when I was actively rejecting the notion of having kids. I recall bringing up my adamant stance about not having children at all to my parents, which, unsurprisingly, shocked them. It might be because this seems to go against the culture we currently live in, where society endorses people to settle down and start a family. 

What culture am I talking about, you might ask.

The culture I’m referring to is the typical culture echoed amongst many university students—to find a partner in university, get a BTO (Build-To-Order apartment) while studying at university, and plan their future together. It seems like university is the prime time to do all things related to relationships while juggling academics and internships—from seeking a significant other to family planning. Well, time is really of the essence in university, I’d suppose. 

Though I personally don’t subscribe to this idea, I do understand the constant rush to clear these milestones to settle down. However, I’m not here to dissect this issue so we’ll leave it as it is and dive into the topic of kids. 

My Reasons for Religiously Rejecting Children in the Past 

Let’s address the elephant in the room—you’re probably thinking that I’m a cold person for not wanting kids. I mean, most people enjoy interacting and cuddling with kids, right? How could anyone resist them? 

Firstly, no, I don’t detest kids. Yet, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I adore kids though. I’m rather neutral with them, in that I’d socialise and play with them if they happen to be around me. I don’t necessarily find them appealing, or feel the urge to spend time with them. I think this is one of the biggest reasons why I used to reject the idea of having children in the past. I simply can’t seem to convince myself to follow the cultural tradition of settling down and having children without feeling excited to be a parent. Furthermore, I don’t think it would be fair for my child too. Imagine knowing how much dread and irritation your parents feel when they see you—it’s as though you’re an obligation to them. Unless I finally get past this mental barrier of mine, I don’t think I’ll be having children anytime soon. It just seems detrimental on both ends. 

Another key concern that circles around my mind every time the topic of kids creeps up is the dichotomy between children and career. Granted, in an ideal world, it would be possible for a woman to have it all—a successful career and a great relationship with her children. However, reality seems to be a far cry from the above. It’s more than common to see mothers sacrificing their careers for their children; stepping down from their successful careers to assume the role of a housewife or stay-at-home mother to care for their children in an attempt to foster a greater relationship with them. That is, of course, if the family’s financial situation permits them to do so. In a different light, it is certainly possible for mothers to hang onto their careers due to passion, family financial woes, and the ability to juggle different commitments. 

Personally, given my aspirations and character, I don’t think I’ll be willing to forgo my career and ideal lifestyle to nurture my kids. With this self-awareness, I don’t think it’d be fair to have children and leave them in the hands of others to care for them. In my view, having children means subscribing to the notion of putting in my best to nurture them. For me, if I were to have kids, I would only have them with the intention of raising and grooming them to reach their fullest potential. Unlike many who believe in the prevalent notion of having children for support when one grows old, this idea has never really sat well with me. Many people around me (peers, grandparents and relatives) often mention having children as a sense of security. They often go along the lines of saying the following: 

“Think about it, at least you’ll have some form of emotional, and/or financial support when you’re old! When you’re lonely, your kids can visit you; when you require financial allowance, you could ask your kids to give monthly allowances as a form of filial piety!” 

Though I do understand their perspectives, this doesn’t bode well with me personally. This comes across as a little selfish to me because it seems as though it is expected for kids to do this for parents in return. Kids have their own lives to lead too—does it not sound like emotional blackmailing? It’s arguable that ‘giving back to your parents’ is part of filial piety, though I’d say it treads a fine line between that and emotional blackmailing.  

Nonetheless, by consuming more content regarding this issue and having open, mature conversations with others, my perspectives are gradually shifting. 

Shifting Perspectives Today 

Now, I’d like to say that I’m leaning towards being slightly more ambivalent and considering the idea of having children. I’m learning to take things as they go and trust the process. In a sense, I’m trying to adopt the following thinking: if I’m ‘fated’ to have children, it’ll happen and I should be open to that possibility. Should I reach that stage in life, I hope to be mature enough to be unselfish and care for my child boundlessly. And if I’m ‘not fated’ and it doesn’t happen, it’s absolutely okay to continue living life as it is. 

Parting Words 

With all that being said, the idea of having children is part of planning for the future. Hence, it’s vital to have constant self-reflection and open communication with your partner surrounding this topic. In the event that you are considering having children, ponder about the reasons for having them and the sacrifices you might have to take when you commit to that decision. Wishing you all the best, my dear reader!