10/11/2014 11:54 EDT | Updated 12/11/2014 05:59 EST

Stop Telling Women to Have Kids

Young woman walking in a shopping mall
Young woman walking in a shopping mall

Why is it, everywhere you turn these days, there's a story, post, blog or tweet about women having babies, trying to have babies, or what to do now that said baby is born.

Don't get me wrong I'm not anti-children per se -- I've got a god child many thousands of miles away who I cherish dearly -- but when did mommy bloggers and fertility clinics take over the world? If childbirth and childrearing is the most natural thing in the world, why do we need to hear about it all the time?

And why is it, when we've come so far from the burning of the bras, that the conversation has only shifted from stay-at-home mums to having-it-all mums?

What about don't-want-to-be mums, or let's-keep-schtum about it mums?

It's not surprising modern culture hasn't moved on, though, because the notion that every little girl must want to grow up, get married and have babies is a narrative spun from the U.S. Mid West to the Middle East, Hollywood to Bollywood.

The media's obsession with celebrity pregnancies and babies is a case in point, from North West, to Blue Ivy, to Prince George, people, for some reason, can't get enough of these gurgling toddlers.

And if a celebrity isn't pregnant, well, there must be something wrong.

Every other week there's a fake story in the U.S. tabloid mag-rags about Jennifer Aniston's "pregnancy." As Hollywood's golden girl, she better get knocked up quick, or get knocked off her lofty pedestal.

It was considered a news item in the states earlier this year when Cameron Diaz dropped the bombshell that she doesn't want to reproduce.

"It's so much more work to have children," she said. "To have lives besides your own that you are responsible for -- I didn't take that on. That did make things easier for me."

She was hailed as brave for "speaking out" about her choice.

It's not often I agree, or have something in common with Hollywood stars, but Diaz is right.

It's goddamn hard work raising a kid, I hear, and it's not a job everyone is qualified for.

If you want someone else's child, you go through an unbelievably rigorous process. It's a pity there isn't the same stringent interview regime for those making their own.

This month is the Children's Aid Societies child abuse prevention month in Ontario.

Last year, 171,118 referrals about possible abuse and neglect of children and youth were received by the CAS and 47,893 families received ongoing protection after an investigation.

And that's only the extreme tip of the abuse-iceberg.

Children face shocking mistreatment at the hands of unsuitable and bad parents. Yet women face unrelenting pressure to bring even more babies into the world. In developing countries, children themselves are forced to reproduce.

A global report released this week by children's charity Plan, ahead of International Day of the Girl on Saturday, revealed how teenage girls around the world view life.

Almost 40 per cent of girls Plan spoke to said they are not allowed to decide about their own marriage. More than half (53 per cent) of girls Plan spoke to claimed that adolescent girls "never or seldom" decide if they become pregnant.

Back in the developed world, we like to think women have more choice, but these societal pressures linger.

No wonder women believe conforming to the "norm" is the only measure of success. But it makes me think, how many women choose to settle down and have kids, and how many do it just because they are supposed to?

I personally don't want children, and have several times come across those who pedal this inexplicable notion that every woman must have kids. When I tell people I don't want children, the typical reaction is shock, followed by an attempt to change my mind, because clearly, I haven't thought it through.

"You don't want kids? Ah you do, course you do, you just don't know it yet."

People have told me it's selfish, or just a phase I'll "get over."

Last time I checked, it wasn't an illness and I don't want to be called brave for "making this choice." And why is it any of your business anyway?

As for my own personal reasons, does anyone really care? Or need to know?

I could probably find some very good reasons in my childhood experiences, but there are simple reasons too: I value my independence, I love travelling, going on wild night's out spontaneously, sleeping in. I really love sleeping in. All of these things and more I'd have to give up if I have a child. Is it selfish that I've actually thought about this and made a decision based on common sense?

I wonder sometimes, when hearing horrific stories of child abuse, or even about parents who just don't care, do people really think long and hard before altering their lives, and another human's, forever?

The decision to procreate is a luxury many -- like the Plan girls -- don't have, so that makes it incumbent on every woman to carefully consider their choice.

There's another interesting Canadian statistic out there that should make everyone stop and think: the Adoption Council of Canada estimates that about 30,000 - 30,000 -- children, many older or with disabilities, across the country are eligible for adoption. Sadly, these stark facts from Canada and around the world get much less public airing than the latest baby accessory or birthing trend.

Here's a radical idea: Let's look after the children we have in the world before rushing, and putting pressure on people, to make more.

And when someone tells you they don't have any, refrain from asking what's wrong or suggesting a good fertility clinic; there's a good chance they've actually decided it's just not for them.


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