The college version of myself wanted to have kids. I once said I wanted six kids even to the shock of my friends who were already thinking the toll it would take on my body.
As I joined the workforce, faced with the reality of how hard it is just to even provide for myself, I’ve changed my tune. I no longer want to have kids. In Japan, it’s been revealed that their constant population crises is due to how more millennials can’t afford kids, on top of a pervasive gender issue. “In a country where men are still widely expected to be breadwinners and support families, a lack of good jobs may be creating a class of men who don’t marry and have children because they—and their potential partners—know they can’t afford to.”
On top of this, they too are tired and spent after a day’s work. The time that kids demand is already too much given their current lifestyle. It’s something that hits close to home for me. Sure, technology has made working easier but it also demands that I am constantly wired in. There’s no such thing as clocking out these days especially when you need more hustle to add to that monthly paycheck.
I don’t want to have kids just for the sake of saying I achieved something in life. Children are valuable and they should be loved but they are not trophies to boost our ego, at least that’s what I think. Having kids is selfless, indeed and I continue to admire the parents who persevere to do the best for their offspring. But we also have to understand that not having kids doesn’t equate to just being self-centered. That’s why it was difficult for the people behind the essays in Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed to be simply labeled as the title of the book suggests.
One friend of mine shied away from kids because growing up, it was made clear to her she was the one to save their family from poverty. She didn’t want that kind of burden on another being, even if that said being is from her own womb. To her, that’s selfish. But don’t get it wrong, she’s more than happy to give hope to her family.
In this light, how women are not having kids also changes the narratives we’ve imposed on each other. Gender roles usually subject women to the losing end of the bargain. They work only to come home to expecting children and a spouse. There’s also how men are faced with a certain standard when they become dads. “I find the dynamics between husbands and wives a little archaic,” said one of my guy friends. He’s currently in a happy relationship with another friend of mine. They compliment each other as her family life was less than perfect while he comes from a prideful family, full of reunions and big celebrations. Both of them, however, want to change the narrative of family life.
Having kids is a tremendous responsibility and though it is a choice one is free to make, it is not the only choice towards a fulfilled life. Especially when you see how not all family stories end well or how not all children end up with parents they share good memories with.
There are many more reasons not to have kids. But that doesn’t mean we’re totally closing off the possibility. However, the choice not to have any isn’t just reflective of a personal dilemma. It’s also a sign of how our society is moving in a different direction. Whether this is a good direction or not, we might not be able to tell. But it surely brings us to look closer at how we build and strengthen families.