Many women who have decided not to have children are opting for the label “child-free by choice” rather than “childless.” Why do they need a label? Well, ‘when are you having kids?” is a common conversation directed toward most women over age 30 in urban and cosmopolitan areas, probably much younger everywhere else. I’ve not only had an aunt that I am not even remotely close to ask me, “Why don’t you have children? Are you not a woman?” but also had an older cousin give me (unwelcome) “permission” to become a single mother. Still, I mistakenly triggered my brother’s new bride’s anxieties last month when I sent her a (premature) Mother’s Day text.
Kara Stevens, a newlywed and personal finance speaker, writer and coach, faces the question often. Here she courageously sounds off about the erroneous assumptions you may be making if you ask a woman or couple when they plan on giving birth. Thank you also to Kelly from YouTube for the brave flashback video below where she explains that she views having kids as a social construct; not as a right of passage.-aa
by Kara Stevens
My wedding was just how I wanted it: small, intimate, and fun— I loved my dress.
I was smiling so much that my cheeks were sore by the end of the night. My make-up was on point; everything started on time and ended on time.
On my wedding day, my husband and I exchanged our vows in the house that ushered me from girlhood to womanhood in the presence of friends and family that had protected, loved, and supported me along this journey.
It was perfect and I decided to remember it as such despite having to deal with pushy family members asking me—without my husband present—“so when are you going to start having some babies?”
In hindsight, I know that their intentions were good. However, there is a big difference between intention and impact. That’s why I am writing this article. Asking a newly married woman, or any married woman without children when they plan to have children can do more harm than good because this question operates under some of the following heavy assumptions.
The “When are you having children?” assumptions:
1. Assumption: “Every woman wants to have children.”
For some, “the pitter-patter of little feet” does NOT sound like music. In fact, a life full of diapers, play dates, and college tuition sounds scary, boring, suffocating and expensive. Some couples want to be “DINKS”- double income no kids because they have want to pursue noble and not-so-noble endeavors and that is their business to share, not yours to discover.
2. Assumption: “Every woman can have children.”
For the women or couples experiencing fertility challenges, this question may not just sadden or depress them, but perhaps ruin a sacred day if asked at a wedding or at an anniversary party. You do not know the intimate details of the couples’ medical history, so save yourself from committing a major snafu by keeping this question to yourself.
3. Assumption: “Marriage or coupling is synonymous with parenthood.”
Individuals and couples do not need to be married nor do they have to wait until marriage before deciding to be parents. On the flipside, couples marry because they want to share their lives, make memories, and grow old together. The love connection that two adults want to create and sustain is independent of one that they want to make with a child.
4. Assumption: “A mark of womanhood is motherhood.”
Women that defend their right to be wives rather than mothers receive a lot of scrutiny from society about their decision to define themselves by who they are, not who they care for. In many cases, they are deemed selfish and not “real women.” If this is your opinion, be sure to keep it to yourself, unless you are volunteering to be a surrogate and provide high-level financial support for the children that you believe women who have freed themselves from the bars of this social destruct construct should have.
Marriage and parenthood are two special, different journeys, which can happen one without the other. When a couple marries, just share in their happiness and bliss and don’t be so worried about their reproductive future; they will let you know if/when they are ready.
Personal Finance Coach Kara I. Stevens’ much-sought after advice on money and well-being can be found all over the web. In addition, Kara has quickly become the go-to expert on all matters concerning African American women and financial empowerment. She is the founder and head blogger at FabulousNFrugal, an online home for all things financial empowerment, girl power, and juicy living. ”Like” Kara on Facebook at Fabulous N’ Frugal or connect with her on Twitter @fabandfrugal. Her previous posts for this site include “Single and Saving In the City! Dating & Money” and Birthday Money! 5 Financial Tips for Your Best Birthday.”
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