I'm a woman who wants to help other women find their voice when someone has taken it away.
"When are you having another baby?"
This question has been asked of me more times than I can count. By family members, in-laws, friends, acquaintances, and even the random couple who stops me in Target. And while asking this question can really bother some women, it's not exactly the question that bothers me, but rather the mom shaming that follows when you say that you do not want to have another baby.
Why is it as women that we feel the need to shame a woman for not wanting to have another baby, if not even wanting to have a baby at all?
"You'll change your mind."
This is a common response when I tell people that I do not want to have another baby. And not only is it a response when asked about having another baby, but it is a response women often get about not wanting to have a baby at all.
One week after getting out of the hospital, after giving birth, a woman close to my son's father asked me when we were going to have another baby. Yes, you read that right. One. Week. After. Giving. Birth.-
When I answered that I did not want to have another baby I got the good ol' - "You'll change your mind." Now if any of you know me, you know that my response to this was repeating myself again. This went on about four times in a row that I would have to continue to say that I did not want anymore children.
Now I don't know about you ladies, but to be a new mother and have a tiny human come tearing into the world, literally and figuratively, can be extremely overwhelming and exhausting. The last thing I wanted to be asked or told was when I was having another baby and that I would change my mind. All I wanted after becoming a new mother is time to adjust to being a mother and my new life- and that is okay! Allowing women time to learn and grow into their new lifetime roles as mothers should be more than accepted- it should be encouraged! I can not tell you how many women I see struggle with one or more children and still feel the pressure of society telling them just when they need to have more children, and how many more. To me, it's pretty simple, the mental, emotional, and physical health of a mother needs to be a top notch priority when deciding to have another baby. If you're feeling overwhelmed and drained- allow yourself some time to process and sort out when its the right time, if there is a right time, to add to your family. Maybe you never reach the point of wanting to add more on to your plate- and that is okay! I mean, how can you take care of tiny humans and make sure they are getting everything they need, if you are not taking care of yourself first?
"Your child is going to be lonely, he/she needs siblings"
This is when the responses get really good. One of the number one responses to telling someone you do not want another baby is that your child needs siblings. I grew up with two siblings and while I was never "alone" I still went through my fair share of boredom and loneliness being that I was the only girl.
Not to mention I was properly socialized with my classmates and had tons of friends that I played with on the daily. I honestly think I spent much more time playing with my friends as a kid, than I ever did with my brothers. I can also recall having several only child friends who grew up to be perfectly fine, well socialized adults.
If you as a parent are teaching your child to be a productive member of society and maybe even have friends with children, or enroll them in day care/pre school- I can assure you your child will not be lonely. Children often keep themselves entertained all on their own- they are full of thriving imaginations! I can tell you my son, even only at 9 months old, has no problem entertaining himself with activity sets and our trusted companion Bentley.
"That's your duty as a woman."
People have it in their heads sometimes that all women are put here to do, is give birth to children. That as a woman it is our duty to populate the planet. Off the top of my head I can think of many other duties a woman can do that does not include adding to the population. Perhaps being a positive role model to the younger generation? Focusing on our mental and emotional health? Getting involved in reform and change that we wish to see in the world? We are in the year 2018 where women are continually proving themselves to be the best and top candidates for jobs and awards. What kind of message are we sending to young women when we tell a woman that it is her only duty to bare children?
Whenever I hear this response the first thing that comes to mind is- Are they saying the same things to young men? Now, I can attest that I have heard people ask married men who just had a baby when they are having their next and I can tell you that it does happen often. However, if that man were to answer no that they were not- would he be dad shamed? If he were to say I am focusing on my career- would he be dad shamed?
Everybody with a womb doesn't have to have a child anymore than everybody with vocal cords has to be an opera singer.
— Gloria Steinem
"You're going to regret not having children/more children."
This response really just does it for me. There is so much disrespect in this small comment and most people don't even know it. Imagine saying this to a woman and not knowing the following:
- She has fertility problems
- She has had multiple miscarriages
- She is newly divorced
- Her IVF treatments aren't working
- Her marriage is suffering
- She had a traumatic pregnancy, labor, and/or delivery.
Or maybe she just does not want to have children.
As humans we can be so quick to portray how we think other people should live their lives, instead of just being concerned for their health and happiness. I can think of many friends that choose lifestyles that I wouldn't that are certainly living their best and healthiest lives. Some of them are focusing on having another baby, while others are choosing to advance in their career and have children later. Whatever path we choose to take we should always support each other in our differences and continue to do what is best for ourselves!
J Briceno (author) from New Jersey on November 19, 2018:
@nikkichristian thank you for your feedback! We as women do already face so much expectation in society. It's nice to know that we are becoming more aware of this issue and can discuss it openly without the guilt.
Nikki Christian from Australia on November 19, 2018:
100% agree with you! When you’re single you’re asked “when are you going to find someone?”. Then once you’re in a relationship “when are you getting married?”. Once married it turns quickly to “when are you having kids?!”. And then of course, as if it is everybody’s business to know & understand why - “when are you having more kids??”. As if we don’t already have enough Mum guilt!! Thanks for highlighting this issue - lots of love to Mums & parents who can’t or choose not to have more children.