When I was growing up, I could count on one hand the number of my mother’s friends that had no biological children of their own. They were very few, ditto my grandmother’s generation. That generation in particular was mostly so fertile that they were giving birth in their late 40s and 50s, competing with their grown children because of the desire to have children to stay with them in their old age.
But it is not so with my generation, without thinking too hard I can count at least five (5) friends who do not have children or who have just one -what is known as secondary infertility. It gets worse with the generations after us, so many young people are trying hard to conceive and have children and although no one can say for certain the causes of the infertility issues many are confronted with today, vaccinations, fast foods, lifestyles and the fact that people are marrying much later in life are suspect.
I was not surprised nor shocked therefore when I came across a video by a lady advising women to have a child once they cross 30 whether they are married or single. Her reasons were the high rate of infertility, the fact that women’s chances of conceiving naturally declines from age 30, the technology available to women in today’s world, and a story about a middle-aged woman who was quite religious and the dilemma her pastor and church elders had when it was discovered that she was pregnant and being asked was told she had done an IVF because she was tired of waiting for a husband and didn’t want to date a married man or commit fornication.
Thanks to advanced technology
The advance in technology and science has caused things that were hitherto inconceivable to become commonplace, there are opportunities for people to freeze their eggs or sperms, try out IVF, intrauterine insemination (IUI), adoption or surrogacy and this has led to many questions, especially with regards to the morality of having children without the presence of a female or male parent.
May I say immediately, that I see nothing wrong in using any of the methods in bringing a child into this world. I am of the firm opinion that having children is a good thing and anything good is Godly so far it is done with the knowledge and consent of one’s partners. It is my belief that science and doctors are working hand in hand with God in the working of miracles.
I however have reservations about bringing a child into the world without the knowledge or active participation of a father just because we feel our biological clock is ticking and age is not on our side as women or because we need to fulfill that legitimate yearning to be called Mummy.
To my mind, the not not-so-obvious being asked in that video and in the story that I read are as follows-
Why do we have children?
I don’t know about most people but I do know that it was not a conscious thought for me as to whether I wanted children or not. I knew that I didn’t want children immediately I after married because I knew motherhood was a lifelong occupation but not having children was not an option. It was ingrained in our minds from when we were growing up that we would have children and immediately we got married, relatives start to count down to nine months afterward are a lot of reasons why people want children
- Societal expectations ( The next thing to cross off on one’s agenda).
- Religion. You want to contribute your quota to the divine mandate of being fruitful and multiplying.
- Love. You love your partner and want to share the most incredible miracle of creation with them.
- Desperation/ Deceit. You want to hold on to a partner either because you want them to marry you because of their obligation to your common bond or because you want to have a share in their wealth.
- Selfishness. You need someone that you can call your own.
Knowing why you want children will help a lot of us make decisions that we will be better prepared for.
What do we do when we have reached childbearing ages and don’t have children?
Do we wait for God’s time or help ourselves? Like I said earlier, there are legitimate ways of helping ourselves and they should be explored as soon as possible, so many married people I know who have adopted or used surrogates have regretted the delay and wished they had done it earlier. I also know of many single women who have had a child because their biological clock was ticking and they felt they could no longer wait and I do not judge them for doing so. I however do know that having a child is the least job in being a parent and parenting should be well thought out before embarking on it.
Isn’t the advice to have children early and the techniques available applicable to both women and men
It is now widely accepted that infertility is an ailment of both the male and female gender but we don’t hear men being advised to freeze their sperm or take drugs that would boost their sperm count early in life. If we are to be real about infertility, we should also be talking to the men and telling them to take care of their bodies and elucidating on the effect alcohol, cigarettes, stress, lifestyles etc have on their sex organs and their ability to father children.
The moral and mental implications of having children in single-parent families
I am aware that most people become single parents due to reasons beyond their control either because they have been jilted or deserted by their partners, divorced or separated or due to the death of their partner however, there is a growing class of people who are single by default. People mostly women who have chosen to give birth to children whether or not with the support of a partner. I admit that I haven’t been in their shoes and do not know what it feels like to want a child badly, but I wonder if a child is not entitled to the presence of its two parents and if my desire justifies my right to stop my child from having a father even if that father may turn out to be a bad or uninterested father in the long run.
Can one parent truly raise a well rounded child?
I know women have singlehandedly successfully raised children and this is not about whether a single parent can raise a good child. It’s just the thinking that one gender is all a child needs especially where the mother is successful and can pay her bills that I personally find a bit worrisome. The truth is that having children is not all fun and games, it is a challenge in a two-parent household and doubly so with a single parent. Parenthood is challenging and one must ask themselves if the challenges of being a single mum outweigh the joys being anticipated in parenthood.
So I guess I speak for the child who is being raised by a woman who felt the time was running out on her and needed to fulfill that legitimate maternal desire to have a child when I say that every child needs a mother and father and that there are is a place for a man in every child’s life.
There are many urges apparently arising from the biological nature that we nonetheless should choose not to act upon or at least be very careful about acting upon.-Christine Overall