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.