I think the decision to get married and have children is something personal. It is not the same for everyone, and while we can learn a few things vicariously, what other people go through or have done is just irrelevant. What works for others may just not work for you.
Culture also plays a part in how we view marriage and children. While single people are becoming more common these days, the norm is to get married in our twenties, pop out a couple of children, and when you’re reaching retirement it’s OK if you hadn’t saved any money because your kids are your retirement plan. Haha. I wish I were joking. I once knew a man (same race as me) who told me he would like about five children because at least one or two of those children would be able to take care of him in future. I do not see children as retirement plans, please get a proper retirement plan, and if I had my own children I would want them to live their own lives and not feel obliged they’d have to demonstrate filial piety by supporting me in my old age.
I think around 26 I really wanted to marry some dude who was so wrong for me in so many ways but I had known him for years, glad that didn’t work out, but since then I had been more discerning about who I date (no broke dudes! Haha! But he wasn’t broke, he actually was heir apparent to a business empire but we had nothing in common so conversations were never good and always ended with petty squabbles that didn’t make any sense. The sex was terrible too, he was not a giver, and I remember I cheated on him a lot with other men and one woman haha, and he once confessed he cheated on me and I burst out laughing because I thought I had to confess, too. I didn’t, because I had my head screwed on tight), and I now have a soft spot for people whose values align with mine (which should have been the case in the first place).
This is a bit personal but if you have this URL you probably already know me in real life and I probably had already told you the story, but when I was 11 my dad married another woman, while still married to my mother. This incident, while having little to do with me, changed my perspective on things, especially marriage and men, because I am very similar to my mother. We look the same. We talk the same way. We share some common interests. I also started developing mixed feelings about religion (I was raised in a Muslim household, among other things we do not eat pork, and we always talk about Hell like we have a clue) and have considered on a few occasions to not practise religion.
There’s something about coming home from school to find your mom sobbing loudly in the bathroom that forces you to grow up overnight. I remember cradling her and telling her to stop crying. Again, I was well aware her marriage had nothing to do with me, but I just hardly spoke to my father after that. I did joke a few times, when I was on the cusp of adolescence, about sex with my mom and told her if she had been willing to put a cock in her mouth maybe he wouldn’t have gotten a second wife?
I joke. We don’t make people do things. Yeah we might influence them a bit, but we all have agency and we do things we want or feel is right, and most of the time those things are done without anybody else’s input.
In my early adulthood I always wondered if the second marriage didn’t happen, or if I didn’t know about it, or if I didn’t stumble upon my mother crying in the bathroom after school (I was prepubescent and hadn’t even gotten my period so I didn’t understand anything sexual or relationship-related), would I have been a different woman? Would I have respected marriage and whatever it entailed? Would I think that hey, marriage is not sooo bad? Would I have gotten married?
I think while this somewhat influenced my thoughts on marriage and my reluctance to be in one I have come to accept that that happened to my mother, and it wouldn’t necessarily happen to me.
Most people (not men I date, people who actually are irrelevant to my decision making) think I like to only have fun and sex, am selfish, they think I am scared to do housework (hahaa, the feeling is not ‘fear’, it’s more like why don’t you buy enough clothes to last you for a couple of months? :p I kid, I kid) and that I am just scared to take the good, the bad, and the ugly of marriage.
One, I think it is just unnatural for anyone to be stuck in an arrangement where you (I mean, me) vow to fuck one person the rest of your (I mean, my) life. Two, I don’t know enough about what I want or aspire to be, and had never had a roommate so I need to learn to be a good partner and I don’t want my first marriage to teach me that (with that being said, if you’re not a piece of shit maybe you won’t need a roommate as a test run!). Three, anything that hints at being permanent makes me uncomfortable because mortality is real to me, so for someone who doesn’t leave things to chance or fate, it’s a lot to think about. Four, for me marriage has nothing to do with just love or feelings or that I don’t have feelings. Love must definitely exist. We somehow do things we don’t normally do, for people we genuinely love (I have lots of examples, but shan’t go there) and over the years I have come to learn that as much as you need or want to be accepted, you have to accept the person, too. Don’t be a dick. Other aspects of marriage include good communication skills and a willingness to work hard at it. I have a lot of love to give someone (or some twos haha) so no, it’s not about fear or that I am so robotic I can’t love.
And about children. People have children for a variety of reasons. It’s a lot of work. It’s resource intensive. I don’t hate children at all, but I just don’t think everyone should have children no matter how cute the idea is (actually, whoever thinks having a baby is cute should not have children).
I probably would have diabetes by the time I reached 40 if I didn’t die already, the same manner my mom inherited it from my grandmother, and I have my mental illness to think about and manage, too, so to impart that to a child I supposedly will naturally love or outlive me is a bit of a contradiction for me. I also get cranky when I don’t have enough sleep, so I am not too eager to experience lack of sleep. I know the consequences, and they’re really severe, and while I think about God sometimes I don’t think I’m supposed to rely on prayer that I can get through this.
My mom used to say I was selfish and I told her she could call me selfish if I already had children and just not care for them properly. The fact is because I am aware, I choose to remain childless. However if you see me with child/ren in future it most likely means either the father of the child has a lot of money, or that I changed my mind because I love him so much (I’m allowed to! Haha).
I’m also on Team Have Children Because You Want Children and Can Be a Great Parent and not on Team Have Children to Guilt Your Man to Stay With You.
In my culture having children is a sign of God bestowing all sorts of blessings but I personally know people whose children have decaying teeth and they (parents) have no money to send their kids to a proper dentist (same people who see their children as blessings) and their children are just not doing well in school nor have basic manners (ooh they’re just being kids, let them be pieces of shit!) because they themselves have no clue how to raise them or be less shitty. Of course if I had children of my own I wouldn’t be angry if they did badly in school. It’s not a death sentence. We all have strengths and weaknesses. I’m not gonna yell at my child for something that could be addressed. Before the child did badly you probably already would have noticed, monitored and anticipated. What? You don’t check your child’s progress? There is no one way to raise a child. I would be concerned, though. I wouldn’t take it lightly, and would pull out all the stops to make sure they’re cared for and loved (through providing a conducive environment and a lot of cuddles) and that they just enjoy learning. And that they wouldn’t be robbed of a childhood. But I can be selfish and say that because I’m not poor nor uneducated. Some people are just not interested to learn how to love their own child/ren (serious, what the fuck), and or how to educate their child/ren. Activities for enrichment and play cost money, and with the bills to pay and food to put on the table, these often are neglected. If you’re really intelligent and resourceful and have time (at this point, pick two out of three) you can make flashcards from practically anything and whatever little money you have left you could send your child to those indoor playgrounds or a class once in a while. One thing I learnt this year, though, is you can’t teach someone to give a fuck.
Then there’s the thing about poverty, which I shall not go into. Perhaps another time.
I also think there are other interesting things to think about besides having children.
For those who already have children, cherish them because they won’t be children forever. What have you done to make their lives better?