By: Zoe Melnyk
Just a single generation ago, it was completely normal for a woman to graduate from high school, get married, and have children.
In 1980, the average age for women to start having children was just over 22 years old. 22 years old. Now, the age is 26 and growing. In fact, whether it’s financial reasons or just not wanting to care for another human life, more and more women are choosing not to have children at all.
Now if you decide, or even suggest, that you don’t want children, you are inevitably met with backlash. Whether it’s a friend patronizingly joking that you’ll change your mind or Pope Francis claiming that women who don’t have children are selfish, it’s a struggle.
While I haven’t seen nearly as many articles written about men deciding not to have children, I have seen dozens and dozens and dozens of articles from women defending their choice. Not to mention novels.
But why do women want children?
Is it possible that women feel this pressure instilled from a very young age that they have to have children in order to feel fulfilled?
These questions all started during my freshman year of university. While watching the classic romantic comedy He’s Just Not That Into You, my roommates and I stumbled on the scene where Jennifer Aniston’s character leaves her committed boyfriend of around seven years because he did not want to get married.
Relax; it’s not a spoiler. It happens at the beginning of the movie.
But I couldn’t help but ask, if she’s really in love and committed, what does marriage have to do with anything?
My roommate immediately retorted claiming that she would never stay in a relationship with a man that didn’t eventually want to be married. She went on to explain her plan to be married by 28 years old and then start to have children.
OK, so what if you’re 27-years-old and single?
It’s no secret that the divorce rate in America is high, around 50 per cent, but why is that?
Believe it or not, it’s not really so much about infidelity or lying.
The Huffington Post released an article written by Lisa L. Payne, Kim Olver & Deborah Roth with the 10 most common reasons for divorce. Of those 10 reasons, four of them have to do with entering a marriage too early.
In fact, one of the first lines of the article said, “marrying for money — we’ve all heard that that is a ticket to a quick divorce, but what about when you marry because it’s what you think you should do?”
Is it possible that the reason the divorce rate is so ridiculously high is because women reach the age of about 27 or 28 settle down with a man they sort of get along with so they could grant their grandmother’s wishes and get married and start popping out their 2.1 kids?
The point of this article is not to persuade anyone either way that having children or not having children is the right decision. What’s really important is that women, and men really, realize that it is actually impossible to plan your life out and to know when you will have children, if you’re ever in that position at all.
Parenthood is not something to rush into, it is not a trend to follow, it is possibly the biggest responsibility that anyone could ever take on and it should be treated as such.