Sunday, June 21, 2015

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed

The title of the post is the name of a new book - a collection of 16 essays curated by Meghan Daum and written by authors who decided not to have children.

And once again, there is a sudden outbreak of people with access to keyboard gives their two cents on what people should do or not do with their bodies and lives.

My stance here? Pretty simple. Nobody has any right to tell others what to do (not do) or what is the thing to be done (not done). There is an underlying contradiction here. When I say "you cant dictate terms for anyone but yourself"...aren't I telling that person they shouldn't do something?? Well, yeah, I guess. I am going to ignore for now, that fundamental flaw, and stick to my guns here.

The main crux of issue, people who choose to not have children, being made to give a justification of why and why-not...points to a premise where not having children seems to be an unnatural thing. People might decide not to bear a child (i hate the term breeder/non-breeder used in this context. Children are not cattle) for a myriad of reasons...reasons like the fear of not being a good parent, losing out on opportunities that their career provides, financial stability, fear of children coming into the space between partners, keeping their bodies in current/better shape, not having their freedom to travel/work long hours/spend etc. limited, not wanting to be responsible for another person, do not like small children, do not have the instinct, do want to bring children into an already over-populated planet, are horrified by how the next generation will thrive the atrocities you see/read.. etc..etc.. And to me, these reasons are valid if they are valid for the person making that decision-because these are not my reasons to judge its validity. This is not my circus and not my monkey. If miya & biwi raazi, then bhaad mein jao khaazi.

I do not have kids yet. What I plan to do with my reproductive system is my business alone. The only person who gets any say, is my spouse. I find that being a woman in her thirties and childless still is something even random people find it their duty to be inquisitive about. Politely skirting the topic leads to more unsolicited advice on the 'ticking biological clock', 'career being a non-priority in the big picture of life', and 'how only a child can bring true joy and love'. I will not contest these statements, coz most of these statements are autobiographical. Sure, having a kid (or the second kid) was the best decision you took, good for you that you finally found true happiness, I am thrilled that you feel that your circle of life is complete. But please... pause to think that the other person is different from you. He/she might not want/believe in the same things.

And there are also the anecdotes where protagonists changed their minds about having kids and the retrospective enlightenment of how marvellously mistaken they have been earlier. Sure! Good for them. But before they get too comfy in that new-convert-now-advocate chair, please do google up 'post-decision/purchase dissonance' and how our psyche plays a game to avoid/minimize that. In event of one being in a no-other-way situation, your mind makes some adjustments in your initial algorithm which makes you believe that this no-other-way situation is what you wanted in the first place. Which is good for you, because you end up being happier about this new scenario than you would have been with your earlier mind-set. But that does not brand your current evaluation criteria or the current scenario as being optimal. (P.s. this is also widely applicable for the second/third kid situations)

Now look at the scenario where the unwilling recipient of your life-hacks does want to have children..and by some sheer misfortune is not able to? Do you know, or is it even in your place to know, their gynaecological or obstetrical hurdles? Or how their already stretched finances cannot handle a child-bearing & rearing expense? Or maybe, they are still evaluating if they should bring a child into an already shaky marriage? ... How self-absorbed does one have to be flaunt joys of parenthood in the face of someone who cant have it? How megalomaniac-ly shallow does one have to be, to assume the entire world should follow one's definition of what is right and proper? And for the well-meaning relatives/friends whose only desire left in life is to fondly gaze into the eyes of your progeny ... isn't it rather selfish to expect others to twist their whole life around to fulfil your wishes?

No comments: