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The Pressure on Women to Start a Family

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

Once a woman enters her early twenties, an overwhelming interest in her personal affairs develops. People close to her want to know about any relationships she may currently be in and if marriage and children are in the distant future. Typically, it is her family that is the first to begin questioning her about possible suitors and the likelihood of having children. If there is a special someone in the picture, then remarks about when an engagement is going to happen come flowing out. Then, after marriage, the question of kids is brought up time and time again. Why is it that women, from such a young age, are constantly being asked for their familial plans for the future? Why is there an urge to pressure women to get married and have kids as quickly as possible?

In most families, there exist parents who were married young in their late teens and who had children less than a year later. These older families usually entrusted the mother with raising and tending to the children while the husband functioned as the provider. To them, it seems natural that their daughters should find a spouse during their early adult years, just as they did, and that they should assume the “traditional” role of the mother right after marriage. From this common family experience stems the belief that a women cannot thrive without a romantic partner by her side and that the ultimate happiness in life is having and raising children. For many women, the prospect of children is warmly welcomed. For others however, children are not wanted and questioning them constantly for them to enter motherhood is tiring.

This pressure on women to start their own families comes in many forms. I have heard women advise married women who are having a tough time in marriage to have kids as a way to smooth things out and bring spouses together. I have heard people tell women that it is a women’s responsibility to have children to carry on their husband’s family name. I have also heard people come right out and say that a women’s purpose in life is to birth children and that they should get started as soon as they get married. Pressure is not always outright, it can be subtle too. Little comments such as “when you have children of your own…” and “When you are a mother…” can apply even the slightest of pressure. Not to mention, the “when are you going give me a grandchild?” comment that comes for your own parents or spouse’s parents, which always seems to put you on the spot. No matter the form, pressure is pressure. People will try to make you feel bad for not having children by a certain time but frankly it is nobody’s business whether you decide to have kids or not.

Now, I have met many women who have stated that they were born to be mothers and I have met others who just simply love motherhood. This is not to say that these women folded under pressure, this is to question why motherhood is made to seem like a necessity for all women when that is simply not the case. Some women are mothers and some are not, and those women who are mothers should not have their identities restricted to being just a mother. The same thing applies to women who do not have children, their identities should not be restricted to being potential mothers. Whether it is getting married or having children, no one should urge you to jump into anything you do not want to. At the end of the day, you make the decision to start a family. If you are happy and satisfied in the decisions you make, that is all that matters.

Danielle Villa is an Animal Science major and Entomology minor at Texas A&M University. She spends most of her time studying to get into veterinary school but when she isn't, she's writing, watching Korean dramas, and giving all the cuddles to her dog.