I have recently had the pleasure of being contacted by the founder of a new blog, Childfree Indian, who gets the many negative impacts pronatalism has on our world.
To kick off the blog discussions, there is a cool offer-tell your story of being pressured to have kids and you get a free copy of my book! The stories have started to come in; meanwhile, a few words about nipping this kind of pressure in the bud.
Here is an excerpt from my book about how to stop getting this kind of pressure. It refers to those who have decided they don’t want to have children, but the ideas also relate to wherever you may stand -don’t want children yet, or feeling undecided.
A four-part strategy will relieve the pressure. First, what not to do: lie. In the past, lying has been a more common way of dealing with the pressures. For example, childfree people told those who pressured them to have children that they “couldn’t” have children. This explanation led to further concealment and the need to act sad and grief-stricken about it. To move toward living by the Post-Pronatal Assumptions, we have to tell the truth, even when we predict we will hurt or be judged by others. Falsely sending the message that we want a child and that we would have one if we could only continues to reinforce a child-centric belief system that does not support a childfree choice. We need to have the courage to be honest and communicate directly, yet diplomatically.
As far as strategy, if you are not having children, first be very clear in your own mind why you feel this way. Not only do you need to know this for yourself and your partner if you are in a relationship, but you need to know it so that you can articulate it to others. You can use the Post-Pronatal Assumptions you particularly resonate with to help you explain yourself. For example, use the Destiny Assumption to explain that the idea of the biological clock is not true for you and that there is no real evidence that this clock exists at all. Or talk about the Normality Assumption: Explain how there is nothing wrong with not wanting the experience of parenthood. Or use the Fulfillment Assumption, explaining that parenthood brings fulfillment to many people, but it is not “the” way for everyone and not the way for you.
If you are in a relationship, strategy two is to present a united front. This is important because it’s easy for others to blame one or the other person in the relationship, but it’s harder to do this if both people clearly vocalize their position. It also means both parties have done the thinking they need to be ready to verbalize their reasons. In response to any of the judgments or pressures, both parties need to be willing to talk about where they stand.
Strategy three: Nip the pressures in the bud. It’s important not to wait to speak up when you feel you are being hit with pressure. The longer you tolerate direct or indirect pressures, your feelings will fester, which will not serve you when you do try to talk to those who are pressuring you. I could tell you many stories in which couples “sat on it” as the interrogation became so intense that they hit a breaking point, resulting in an argument or “blow” that could have been avoided.
And fourth, perhaps the most important step in alleviating pressure is to seek mutual understanding. After honestly and clearly communicating in a heartfelt way where we stand, we need to have the courage to find out why these people are pressuring us. We need to ask them, “Why do you want me to have children?” We need to get them to see what’s in it for them. If it’s our parents, and they want grandkids, why specifically do they want a grandchild? Do they have concerns that they will be seen as strange or bad parents if we don’t have kids? Are they concerned about how not having kids will affect the relationship with them? Whatever the reason, talk with them until they see how their desires relate to them and their own feelings, not to you. If you can talk openly about why they want what they want for you and why they judge you for your decision, the pressure will stop 99 percent of the time.
Tell your story of pressure here and get the book to not only read all of this section, but the rest of the book, which explores why society needs to move past outmoded thinking about parenthood and reproduction for the good of All, parents, non-parents, children and all other beings in our world!