When the nail sticks out

rants, raves and randomness

The persecution of childless couples

I have been meaning to write about this for some time already.

The noise is getting loud. We are on our sixth year and people are asking – no, demanding: Why don’t you have kids yet?

I get it from both sides of the family, that is, my mom side and dad side. I get it from my friends and my cousins. We also get it from my husband’s manager (although much, much less here in Japan). What about kids?

It seems like for the Filipino mindset, there are certain stages one has to clear in this life. Find a boyfriend, get married and have kids. This of course, doesn’t have to be in that order. For a fact, we’ve seen a LOT of cases where kids come first before marriage– so much, that I was getting a lot of questions when I decided to get married. “Are you pregnant?” It was ridiculous. Can’t a person decide to get married and not have a bun in the oven?

You would think that people would just leave us alone. But several married years later, and the questions start to pour. Why don’t you have kids yet? I realized then, that it is more acceptable for the Filipino society to clear all three stages (find a bf, get married, have kids) in any order than not clear one stage at all.

To be fairly honest, it is none of your ******* business. I don’t have to justify my life to you or anybody. And you, whoever you are, have no right to make it your business to preach to me or any childless woman about  the importance of having kids. We don’t need to explain ourselves to you and having kids or not is a private decision not open to debate.

Mothers my age are merciless. They flood your news feed with their kids’ photos. Look, Elisa is eating her breakfast. Look, Elisa is now eating her lunch. Look Elisa is running to the toilet.  Delete from news feed. But it doesn’t stop there. These ladies make it their business to ask questions.  They got knocked up when they were in school, and now that their eldest is turning fifteen and ready to knock somebody else up, they start wondering why you haven’t started embarking on this “very fulfilling ultimate journey to motherhood“. Ok that was harsh. Let’s say they willingly chose to be mothers. Sorry. But since when did motherhood turn into a race?  They ask, prescribe and preach.Better start now. You’ll regret it.

And let me add this belatedly: families are the worst. I am now the same age as when my mother had me – I think she sort of had it in her mind that I will follow in her footsteps and start producing babies by this age. Mothers,aunts, uncles, cousins- they’re there to make sure you feel the pressure, they remind you every minute that you are childless and not doing justice to the bloodline. I told my mother frankly not to expect me and my husband for Christmas again- this year or the next. I’d rather spend it in peace and wait for the noise to die down. And what’s up with the guys ? “Mahina! Hindi makabuo!” Yeah right.

Common arguments thrown at me:

a) Life is much more fulfilling with kids

b) Iba ang ligaya ng may anak (Happiness with kids is different)

c) Walang mag-aalaga sayo pagtanda mo (No one will take care of you when you get old)

d) It is a woman’s duty to mankind to reproduce. If you have it, use it!

 

Or all of the above.

Here are my answers to these:

To A : I find it sad that you need another person (namely a baby) to fulfill you. Aren’t we supposed to be fulfilled ourselves?

To B : Excuse me, but do I look so unhappy? In fact, the reason I may not want kids is because I love my life now – I don’t want any major changes!

To C : That’s just wrong. A terrible excuse to have kids.

To D: Are you serious?! It’s 2014.

If motherhood worked out for you, then great. But don’t shove it down my throat.

I am enjoying married life. That is, just my husband’s company. Contrary to what you like to believe, we are happy and content as we are, just the two of us. Are you kidding me? I have a career, I have a flat and I am thinking of buying my beach-side lot and many more.  We travel and drink fairly frequently and we surf and meet our childless friends (an occasion to talk about something mutually meaningful where we don’t have to put up with what Elisa ate for dinner). We don’t have to worry about diapers and crying tots and sending kids to school. We’re living our lives. This is the time of our lives where we have a bit of time and still a lot of energy while making a decent amount of money. It’s a great time to explore and do things and learn new stuff. And surf, because I love to surf and I will surf til the day I die.

This may change, of course. We may decide to have kids someday (and take them surfing with us, of course). But for the meantime, we are not ready. We are taking our time. We like to plan. For us, having kids is a great step that we’d prefer not yet to take. You got knocked up, that’s your fault. But please understand that there are women who actually like to plan things out. I was nice to you when you got knocked up and even congratulated you (although your baby was obviously unwanted at that time). Or, for those who simply decided it was time for progeny, I respected that you willfully chose to be a mother. So please, can you give me the same respect I gave you and stop asking and prescribing what could have and should have? And same goes for my family. I don’t owe anybody any explanations!

So you think I should have a baby? Which one of my bills will be paying for this month?

So you think I should have a baby? Which one of my bills will be paying for this month?

A lot of people are overstepping their boundaries when talking about kids. While people are more sensitive when talking about homosexuality or body odor, Filipinos make your childlessness their business. Imagine telling a homosexual that his life would be happier if he turned straight. Or someone who smelled perfectly fine was told his life would be more fulfilling if he used  a certain deodorant. Or a Muslim  told his life would be better if he converted to Catholicism. Yes, it is uncalled for. It is also rude, insensitive and just offensive. So stop it.

But I just don’t think motherhood is the be all and end all of being a woman, and suspect that those of us who don’t have children may well enjoy a broader and more fulfilled existence.

Hannah Betts made such a point in The Times recently, declaring that the real way for women to have it all was simply not to have children. Her conclusion seemed entirely logical to me. The child-free among us can enjoy focusing on our careers, late night gins, impromptu liaisons, and even a night in front of the TV in our pyjamas undisturbed by a baby monitor.

Such a reality is beginning to dawn on many of my girlfriends. For women my age (25), being a mother is lower on the list of priorities than a career, travelling and socialising. We’re not selfish, we’ve just realised being a mother isn’t everything and we can get on with other things.

Henry, Charlotte. The Telegraph. ‘Why my life will be more fulfilling without children. August 08, 2013. Web. January 28, 2014. < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/10231010/Why-my-life-will-be-more-fulfilling-without-children.html >

Your Life Will Never Be Yours Again
The moment you have kids, your life becomes theirs. Everything you do will revolve around them and their needs. Your relationships, your looks and your drive will all become a distant piece of who you once were.

Marin, Lauren. Elite Daily. The Most Brutally Honest Reasons You Should Never Have Kids. January 24,2014. Web. January 28, 2014. <http://elitedaily.com/life/the-most-brutally-honest-reasons-you-should-never-have-kids/ >

More women in the developed world are choosing not to have children. So why do friends, family, colleagues and even strangers think it’s OK to question their decision?

Once this was considered insane or unnatural. Even today, it is viewed with suspicion – women with no desire to procreate say they sometimes face awkward questions and disapproval.

“A woman at work was recently quite shocked by my saying I didn’t want children. She said: ‘You’re a woman, you were born with a womb, God gave a womb so we could procreate’,” Jenny Woolfson, aged 25, told BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.

“My friends and I have occasionally likened coming out as child-free to coming out as a gay person 40 or 50 years ago. There’s the same sense of shock – perhaps that’s too strong a word. But it’s a lifestyle people don’t expect and it may challenge their world view,” says 31-year-old Rhona Sweeting.

O’Shea,Hayley. BBC News Magazine. The women who choose not to be mothers. July 29, 2010. Web. January 28, 2014. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10786279 >

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21 comments on “The persecution of childless couples

  1. awesomebones
    April 6, 2014

    Hello! I’m Katherine Alon from DLSU, and I’m doing my thesis right now and it’s about lived experiences of voluntarily childless married women. We found this very interesting because it’s very different from our culture – very collectivist meaning social norms are very important and voluntary childlessness is deviant from norms, so childless women experience stigma, what more the voluntary diba. 🙂
    We’re looking for participants for our qualitative study, and we’re using all our resources even googling “childless couples in philippines” just to get participants. Woah, it’s extremely difficult, that’s why when I saw your blog, it’s a little calming to know na there are really Filipinas who prefer to be childfree! 🙂
    I hope you can participate in our study! My email is posted along with this comment! 🙂 Thank you so much!!!

    • ikalwewe
      April 7, 2014

      Thank you for your comment Katherine. Sorry for the late reply, I am normally busy on weekends. Sure, I don’t mind. Will contact you later. ciao

      • awesomebones
        April 7, 2014

        OMG Thanks again!!!! 🙂 I hope you can share your experience with us! 🙂

  2. Claire
    August 12, 2014

    Hi! Though I’m childless not by choice, but by circumstance, I am now on the road to acceptance that I may not have children. Thank you for coming up with this post, a very brave thing to do, speaking up for all of us Filipino women who don’t, or can’t have children. I have been browsing to so many blogs of childless women and I’m happy to stumble upon your blog.

    • ikalwewe
      August 19, 2014

      Hello Claire,
      Sorry for this delayed reply and thanks for your comment. I think mas malakas ang pressure sa Pinas kaysa elsewhere. I can really feel it, whenever I go home. My childlessness is everybody else’s business and it bugs the hell out of me. Don’t let anybody pressure you, there’s nothing wrong with being childless. More power to us.

  3. Arlene
    October 13, 2014

    Thank you for writing about this! It is quite a comfort to read your piece. It’s been very frustrating for us (my husband and I) to deal with this issue here in the Philippines. I’m just banking on the hope na magsawa na sa kaka-comment ang mga tao, specifically my side of the family, on our personal decision to not have kids. You try to make them understand why this is the choice you made for your life but kahit anong explain mo they just won’t have it! To start with, you shouldn’t even be made to defend this very personal decision that you as a couple made on your own! I don’t mind if they ask questions about our decision. I’ll take that as an opportunity to open up their minds na iba-iba ang tao. We make different choices in life. That we are allowed to be different! But it’s very difficult when you are made to feel like you are wrong; you don’t know what you’re talking about; you’ll change your mind, etc. At least our friends and my husband’s family (non-Filipino) are open-minded about it and are fine with it.

    • ikalwewe
      October 14, 2014

      Thanks for your insights. I know how difficult it is for Filipino couples who choose to be childless to be in a society that favors kids. Iba talaga ang mindset ng mga Pinoy. And I agree – we don’t have to justify ourselves to anyone. But it’s tiring. It’s hard to make them see our way of thinking. And it’s annoying that something that is inarguable is being argued. But the good thing is, there are more and more childless couples by choice now, and I believe there will be more. It will take some time, but things WILL change. Stand your ground, stay strong Arlene 🙂 Cheers

  4. FSL
    October 24, 2014

    Nice article, I can very much relate to it. I am glad I am not alone with this predicament. We are 9 years married and childfree.

  5. Gem
    November 27, 2014

    Hi! My name is Gem Tupaz, BS Family Life and Child Development in UP Diliman. Please help me accomplish my research in partial fulfillment of my FLCD 197 (Special Topics in Family Life) requirement by answering some questions. It’s very brief lang. 🙂

  6. Mimi N.G.
    January 10, 2015

    Hi! Thank you for writing this article.

    Is that you in your avatar picture? If it is, i have to say you look youthful. 🙂

    • ikalwewe
      January 13, 2015

      Thanks Mimi. Yes, that’s me…some years ago..hehe.. Have a great day!

      • Mimi N.G.
        January 13, 2015

        I am sorry you had to go through such pressure. Children do add a lot of stress.
        Maybe it’s because misery loves company. Or they thought “It’s what your supposed to do”, and don’t like the fact that someone decides to go to the alternate path.

        Does your folks still pressure you?

        I hope you have a wonderful day too!

      • ikalwewe
        January 15, 2015

        Fortunately, my folks don’t pressure me anymore. I told them we won’t be celebrating any holidays with them if they keep on doing that. Some of my relatives are still relentless. Though I live far away they use social media to force their views on people. I’ve learned to ignore them. Do your folks pressure you or anything? Cheers!

  7. Mimi N.G.
    January 15, 2015

    Not yet. I am 19 year old and childfree by choice! I am also a pinay who lives in the USA. 😀

    I don’t tell most people, especially my parents because one, it’s none of their business. And two, I will get a barrage of bingoes thrown at me. 😦 Very few people only knew. I told an ex bf. He said “You’ll change your mind!” 😡 I strongly loathe that sentence. It is condescending and rude as if they think they can think for me which is wrong.

    I have a single and childless cousin who is 35. She looks like she’s living the life. I hope she doesn’t give in to societal pressure because I look up to her. I guess the pressure will start once I hit my 30’s. :/

    In case you don’t know what a bingo is. Here it is-

    It’s good to hear that they don’t pressure you anymore. I wish more people would except the fact that not everyone is going to follow the same life path as they are.

    I am curious. How old were you when you 1st realize that you didn’t want kids? 🙂

    • ikalwewe
      January 20, 2015

      Sorry for the delayed reply. I have been busy!
      I hope you don’t let anybody tell you what to do. Ultimately it’s your life, your choice. You may change your mind, or not. I know I might! The Philippines is slowly changing, though, with more and more distractions and of course, opportunities for women. Thanks for the link btw. Should try playing it sometime, lol. Actually, I sort of wanted kids. I told myself when I was young that I’d start having kids when Im in my 30s. Well, nearing my 30s, I started thinking about things. I was having the time of my life-a bit of income, a bit of time and lots of energy to do things I wanted. Now I’m in my 30s and I don’t feel like I am ready yet. And with bad things going on everyday, I start wondering if it might be better to spare my future child(ren) this world? My kids don’t deserve to live in such a terrible world. I know, so negative. But , my point is, we shouldn’t be pressured to have a child if we don’t want to. Men don’t. It’s our life. Peace 🙂

      • Mimi Ng
        February 17, 2015

        I’ve been busy too. most of the people without kids i know in real life are childless by circumstance. It would be nice meet someone who is childfree by choice and over 40. there are people who didn’t change their minds and no regrets at all. looks like we are a minority here. if you have time, search “TCFL forum”. There are stories of people who have gone through the same thing as you did and may have a lot in common with. you’ll find support there too.

      • ikalwewe
        March 2, 2015

        Hello Mimi. Sorry for the late reply. I have been traveling and practically had no internet. Anyways thanks for the tip, I’ll search the forum. Cheers.

  8. childfreefilipina
    January 19, 2015

    Hi! I just started a blog about being a childfree filipina and found your post! Can I link this in my blog? 🙂

  9. aprilnavarro18
    April 6, 2015

    I am so glad I’m not alone. Thank u for this blog. Nakakaurat na yung mga taong mas alam pa kung anong magandang gawin sa buhay mo. Hahaha!

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This entry was posted on January 28, 2014 by in Family, People, Thoughts - Philippines and tagged , , , , , , , .
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