A writer from Malaysia who writes about anything and everything that interests her
Why I Won't Be Having Biological Children
Growing up, I was always led to believe that having biological children was a given for any normal adult. You graduate from school, get married, have children, raise them as well as you can, and die. Adults that didn’t go on to get married and have children were seen as abnormal. Let me give you an example. In my culture, people would often talk about karma and its relation to how good of a life someone lives. I remember hearing my grandmother talk about a neighbor of hers who was “unlucky” because all her adult children never had children of their own, which was a bad thing. Granted, that may be just a really traditional way of thinking that is slowly dying out, but the idea that having a child of your own is crucially important still persists today.
I think it’s a given that when you have your own children, you want to give them the best life possible. You don’t want them to suffer, and you want them to be happy and healthy. As I got older and really started looking at how the world is today, I’m rethinking my desire to have biological children.
I think that it’s a growing trend where fewer and fewer people are having children or even getting married, and it’s slowly getting more socially acceptable. I do see some very legitimate reasons as to why this is happening.
The first reason is that people just can’t afford to have kids anymore. In my case, this is extremely real. In my country particularly, living standards have increased immensely compared to decades ago, but the wages are stagnant. A recent study showed how living standards increased by around 300% while the wages increased by only a fraction of that. With necessities getting so expensive, people can barely make enough money to look after themselves, let alone a whole other human being. Children are just so expensive.
As a woman, I also feel like women have a tough and important choice to make after the birth of their child. In many cases, it’s the women who have to sacrifice their careers for the sake of looking after their children because they feel like it’s extremely necessary to be there to be a constant maternal figure present during the child’s developmental years. Honestly, I can kind of agree with that because I had the privilege of being cared for by my mother as I grew up compared to friends who were sent to daycares because they had working mothers. While there are certainly some women who would be glad to do this, it’s also extremely worrying that many of them don’t even have the luxury of a choice due to the need for two incomes for the household to even survive.
Career-driven women, on the other hand, will certainly suffer from this as it can be really hard to get back into the workforce once you’ve been out of it for a while. There’s also the issue of discrimination from companies that discriminate against pregnant women or women who want to start families due to the cost they would have to bear in terms of maternity leave.
Another personal reason why I’m starting to feel like this is that I would be worried about the suffering that I might potentially put my child through. This might be a stretch, but I have personally dealt with extremely negative and depressive thoughts due to a lot of things that are happening in the world now. Issues like a terrible job market, rising living standards, the 24/7 news cycle that keeps pumping out negative news, and other things that just aren’t good for one’s mental health. There were times when I blamed my parents for bringing me into this world. I don’t want that for my child. I don’t want them to feel messed up in their mind but be unable to discuss these issues and heal.
My final point (or more like two of them) surrounds climate change and rising living standards. We’re all aware that climate change is happening and getting worse by the day. World leaders just can’t seem to band together to make quick and decisive actions, while staunch capitalists just say no to any action to slow climate change because it’ll hurt their profits. There will come a day when the damage caused by climate change will be so significant that everyone will suffer. There are already people suffering from the effect of climate change. For example, Indonesia’s capital is slowly sinking and people are already losing their homes as they were built on lower levels. Have you watched The Silent Sea on Netflix? It depicts a world where water is so scarce that it is rationed in a way where people with higher “ranks/levels” get more water. It may seem dystopian, but who’s to say that it won’t happen somewhere in the future?
As for rising living standards, I mentioned how living standards have increased immensely, yet wages do not. Inflation is on the rise, yet the yearly increments in the salaries don’t even cover it. In my current generation, it’s practically impossible for a person to purchase a house without their parents’ help, much less raise a child of their own. I don’t want to bring kids into a world where they have to worry about getting the bare necessities.
Ultimately, I don’t really want to bring a child into this world for the sake of it or for the sake of conforming to the norm or societal pressure. I am, however open to adopting a child as it would alleviate a “problem” that already exists in the world. I am still young though so I might always change my mind.
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