TED Conversations

Jimena Duque

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Are women and men completely and unequivocally free to choose whether to have children or not?

I am curious to know if there is still some pressure and persuasion exercised by families and society in terms of marriage and procreation.

Is religion an influence when it comes time to make the choice?

Is there a stigma associated with women and men that opt not to have children?

I am hoping to hear about your personal experiences not so much about the research or the data available.

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    Mar 16 2011: Depends on the individual and the people they are surrounded by/choose to surround themselves with.

    I have never wanted children. Ever. Not even fleetingly. My parents were fine with it, I had the odd comment as I got older from extended family members. ("You'll meet the right man and he'll make you want children." Really? You mean at gunpoint?)

    And then they saw me with other people's children and it became clear even to them that nope, some people really aren't meant to have kids.

    Does everyone have that level of freedom? (By which I mean those with my socio-economic background in Canada). Depends on their sphere. I doubt there's an absolute answer to this question. Everyone has different circumstances.
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    Mar 18 2011: in my opinion we should be totaly free to choose to have children or not.
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      Mar 20 2011: I agree, we should be free to choose, but are we really???
      What happens around us? are our friends, relatives etc choosing freely to have children?
      How about us? are our parents, relatives and/or friends telling us that we have to have children just because?

      The focus is theory vs practice. In theory we all are/should be free to choose but, are we REALLY practicing this???
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          Mar 20 2011: Sure, I agree, it depends on who you are, where you come from, etc.
          But my intention with this question was to hear about your own personal experience.
          Do you feel like sharing??? ;)
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    Mar 16 2011: Whether or not we are free to choose is often a function of location and means. Women without access to birth control and who live in areas where rape squads are a political reality are unlikely to have much choice while North American women generally are more able to choose. I have always been deeply grateful that my choice to become a mother was a joyful voluntary one.
    Then there are issues of cultural expectations and most people's desire to belong. There are also issues of horomonal drives.
    You have posed an interesting question that is really complex.
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    Mar 15 2011: They are free to choose, but they are not free from pressure from external forces (expectations and desires of friends, family, social norms, etc.) to have children.
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      Mar 20 2011: Thanks, I agree with you. Having children just like most of things in life, can't be seen or understood as something isolated. It depends on and it is influenced by your culture, values, traditions, believes, religion, tribe, family, husband/wife, job, career, money, age, health etc , I have no doubt about that.

      That's why I thought I framed the question to each of us, meaning TED community, not as a general/worldwide truth/issue. How do YOU feel with regard to having children??? If you fee like sharing ;) cheers.
  • Mar 20 2011: Im willling to be a mother in the future just because of the female instinct .
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    Mar 19 2011: Both of them have, I mean the woman and the man
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    Mar 19 2011: Yes. This is another case of free will.
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    Mar 18 2011: Rightfully so, people who love you will always have an opinion.
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    Mar 18 2011: Im 21, and have had a great relationship for over 2 years now, and i feel where i am at right now i personally have total freedom to decide if and when a baby will be part of my life. BUT, many friends of mine seem to be having kids (its that time in life it seems at my age) and usually not exactly by choise. its seems as though its a fork in a road, its either start a family, or get a career. people see me in my relationship and ask me what my future plans are, and they seemed suprised when i say i have 0 interest in having a child. so i would say there is some social pressure out there to have one. relgion DOES imo play a huge factor still.

    I for one believe that there is no reason for me to have a child, i may adopt, possibly.
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      Mar 20 2011: Thanks, very interesting.
      As you say, it is still going on today ... what are the reasons behind it today?? How about you?? where you born into a big family?? do you have many children?? If you feel like sharing ;) thanks.
  • Mar 18 2011: You are free to decide your destiny... But at the same time, we must participate to build the next generation... Think about a hypothetical situation like.. the paddy[wheat] decides not to generate any seeds this year!!!
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    Mar 16 2011: As a parent I would say we are free to a point, the point being the call of the parenthood. While that seems warm and fuzzy I have to say that it was a very strong call to me later in life and having now become the father of three amazing children I simply cannot think of life without them or the spiritual calling that come with being a parent. I was not influenced by culture, religion, society or any external influence just something deep inside.
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    Mar 16 2011: Yes, we're free to chose whether or not if we want to become parents, we should always bare in mind that children aren't toys, but human beings like me and you, and should always be thought and treated that way. I thinkevery human know deep within their beings if they would make good parents, and its for that reason that many might chose not to. Adult made be scared to put children through the horrors they faced as children themselves, baring in the morals of the world has gone down the drain; they might realise that the lifestyles that they have picked for themselves is no place for children; they might realise that they incomes aren't enough for child rearing; likewise others may chose to adopt a child that have already been facing the ills of the world that add to it. However, i think when an adult honestly makes a decision not to have children its a good thing, since i think one of the greatest ills against humanity in the 21st century is the neglect and abuse of children. Tus, i urge adults to think long and hard on parenthood, since children aren't toys that they could return to the stores and, worst yet they aren't a marriage that would could just divorce.
  • Mar 15 2011: Too much peer pressure to have kids, govt incentives for uneducated people.
    Just mentioning the subject is incentive