The influence of pronatalism

Due to the population of the ever expanding planet, I have always thought that these days, it was a little bit selfish to have your own biological child. Before I was deemed infertile, my husband and I used to have serious conversations, about whether bringing another person into the world was a responsible thing to do. Back then, we were quite naive about the complexities of aquiring a child, and decided the best solution would be to have our own and adopt. “Yeah right, like it’s that easy!” I would now say to my younger self. Anyway, over the past couple of years, (since being in the childless club), I have learnt that according to some, it’s the childless who are selfish! Eh? How on earth are people coming to this conclusion? I have spoken to some childless women who have even been called selfish to their face. So these feelings for some, can be pretty strong.

I am lucky, because I have never experienced any childless bashing, only sympathy and support, which is probably why I was so shocked that it existed. The other day, I read an article, that gave several examples of when others have openly aired their views about the childless, mainly focussing on those who are childless by choice. After reading, I felt quite upset to the point where my stomach and chest were gearing up to make me cry. The old thoughts of what is my purpose, came flooding back to the surface, and I felt uneasy again. I didn’t cry though, because that would be over reacting. Instead, I wrote a comment on the Gateway Women forum about it, and I was pointed in the direction of pronatalism.

I had never heard of the pronatalism before, but I am pleased I have been introduced to it, because now everything makes sense.

Basically, pronatalism is an attitude or policy that encourages child bearing. So, as well as our body clocks giving us a nudge to breed, we are also being influenced by outside forces (which I already knew, but it’s nice to learn a new word to describe it). These influences are all around us, tapping into our subconscious minds like a Derren Brown mind trick. The government, for example, give people incentives like tax breaks, and religious groups preach their own beliefs about parenthood and reproduction, many of which promote that the more babies you have, the better.

As a psychology graduate, I understand how easy it is to suggest the most outlandish things to people, for them to just go along with it. We may not realise it, but as humans, we are very easy to manipulate. We like to conform to what’s deemed as normal and we buckle under authoritarian influences. These well known psychological experiments have been carried out to prove it.

1. Milgram experiment Which is powerful example of how people obey authority, even when they don’t believe what they are doing is right. I’m not saying couples who have children are obeying anyone, but subtle influences from society will steer their decisions about having a family.

2. Asch conformity experiment This demonstrates how peer pressure can influence better judgements. This research has provided important insights into how, why and when people conform, and the effects of social pressure on behaviour.

The author, Laura Carroll, has written a book called the Baby Matrix that is all about pronatalism. This description of her book has been taken from her website:

The Baby Matrix: Why Freeing Our Minds From Outmoded Thinking About Parenthood & Reproduction Will Create a Better World

takes a serious look at powerful social and cultural influences that drive the desire for the parenthood experience, and lays out why we need to be very aware of these influences to make the most informed decisions about parenthood.

The Baby Matrix looks at long-held beliefs about parenthood and reproduction, and unravels why we believe what we believe. It lays out:

-the historical origins of beliefs about parenthood and reproduction

-why many of these beliefs no longer work for society or were never true in the first place

-why we continue to believe them anyway

-the prices society pays as a result

The Baby Matrix shows us how we got here, brings to light what is true, which includes knowing about the powerful influence of “pronatalism,” and explains why society can no longer afford to leave pronatalism unquestioned.

I haven’t read the book yet because I’ve only just heard about it, but it’s definitely on my wish list!

So, the next time I read or hear negative comments about the childless, I’ll know it’s just the manipulative ways of society that has brought people to those ridiculous judgements. I was right all along, we are parasites to this planet, and if this planet could talk, it would actually be thanking all those who are childless, not scolding them. It also makes me wonder if some people have children for the right reasons, and if without these influences, they would choose to be a parent at all.


4 thoughts on “The influence of pronatalism

  1. I loved this post! It’s hard being childless due to crappy circumstances because I really wanted to have a baby. I think adoption is a difficult process that I’m not ready for yet. However, I see people all the time who have children and they seem so unhappy. Why did they have children in the first place? Was it because they are pro-life and accidentally got pregnant? Is it something they thought they wanted? There was a time when my husband and I were still newly weds and people asked us all the time, “When are you going to have children?”, I often told people we didn’t want to have any because it seemed easier then saying we had a 5 years plan and children would come after that. Needless to say people would freak out when saying we didn’t want children. I will never understand why people think it’s their business to get upset when people choose to be childless!

  2. Glad you liked it! I agree that it’s nobody’s business whether or not you have a baby, but it’s so strong in people to judge or pass some kind of comment. I bet the childless by choice get a annoyed at being told they ‘will soon change their mind’ or judged as being some kind of child hater who owns lots of cats. Being childless by circumstance, I just get the sad looks and pity, followed by, ‘you can always adopt!’ There is such a high expectation on couples to have children, it’s no wonder they are labelled and judged if they don’t. Society doesn’t take kindly to those who don’t conform.

  3. Hello! Just randomly stumbled across your blog. I am blown away that anyone would ever suggest that deliberately childless people are selfish – what ignorant idiocy. HAVING CHILDREN IS SELFISH. We do it to satisfy our own urges. If that’s not selfish then I don’t know what is! As you say if Mother Earth could speak she would be BEGGING people to stop breeding. All the best to you from sunny Harare x

    • Hi Gigi,
      Thank you for your message. I agree, we all do have children to satisfy our own urges. What upsets me most of all is when people have children ( because it’s what ‘normal’ people do) but then never spend any time with them, just palm them off to nannies from being 6 months old! I understand that people need to work to earn money, but nobody is forcing anybody to have children, so if you can’t find the time or money to look after them, just don’t have them. That to me, is ultimately selfish, but that is just my opinion of course.

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