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Anyone who still believes that we are all meant to have children needs a reality check

By Nina Steele 

I always anticipated that trying to change people’s attitude toward the childless would prove a major challenge in developing countries, particularly on the African continent. That’s because, as someone of African descent, I am all too well aware of the extreme stigma attached to being childless, particularly when you are a woman. And as predicted, I have been on the receiving end of some of those outdated views recently.

The idea that anyone who says they are happy without children is lying is unfortunately a view shared by many. One woman told me recently, in response to an article I wrote about coming to terms with not being able to have children that I should ‘stop fooling myself’ and accused me of lying about being happy. She explained that she dealt with ‘many barren women’ (her words, not mine) and that they are invariably deeply unhappy. As far as she is concerned, there is no such thing as accepting the hand that life deals you when it comes to children. If you cannot have them, you will be unhappy for the rest of your life.

That level of ignorance is the reason why there is so much pain on the African continent about this issue. These types of beliefs have no place in the modern world. Unfortunately, most of the people who hold those views are too entrenched in their ways, and nothing can make them change their minds.

People are entitled to their views, and it is their prerogative to deny the truth and live in blissful ignorance if they so choose. What I find objectionable however, is when they decide to spout their bile on a platform that is meant to lift people up. There are many platforms out there who cater for people like that, it is just not this one. There is a difference between making a constructive contribution to a discussion even if it is to disagree, and being downright offensive. What are they afraid of?

Ignorance is nothing to be proud of. To die ignorant is among the worst fates that can befall a person. Our purpose on this earth is to grow as people and understand some of the truths hidden within every one of us.

We are here to learn, not to blindly accept beliefs that made sense centuries ago. Yes, once upon a time, it was crucial for people to have as many children as was possible because their very survival depended on it, but these times are long gone. If anything, there are too many of us now, for too few resources and opportunities. This is one of the reasons for the current instability we see around the world today. Anyone who is completely oblivious to the correlation between population growth and social cohesion, has a lot to learn.

So to all those still thinking that everyone is meant to have children, I say you don’t get it. First of all, if you have ever heard of fate or destiny, you would know that we each have different paths and that not all of us are meant to have children. If you don’t believe in fate, then I suggest that you take a look around and ask yourself what the state of the world would be like if we all had children.

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