Grace’s Story: My very traditional parents will have to accept my choice not to have children

Childfree AfricansI am a 37 year old British Kenyan woman holding a managerial position in the private sector. I am a homeowner and have lived on my own for quite some time. Being a successful woman means I am not short of suitors. However, ever since I was a child, I have preferred the solitude of my own company. Call me weird, that’s just who I am. No I wasn’t an only child. In fact, as you would expect from someone of African descent, I am from a large family. My parents had a total of 8 children. My family had hoped that I would magically transform into a social butterfly the older I got, and as I near 40, my parents are starting to panic.

I have been summoned to more family meetings than I care to remember. To my parents, my professional success means little unless I also find myself a husband and procreate. Now that I am pushing 40, the meetings have got nastier. I am being told that my ‘Western’ ways are an embarrassment to the family and that if I don’t change my mind, I will regret my choice one day. Thankfully, I have stood my ground and they will eventually have to accept my choice, since I am never going to change just to make them happy. The funny thing is that my parents already have a lot of grandchildren, yet for the sake of tradition and appearance, they want more.

I bet some of you are wondering why I bothered to attend those meetings in the first place. It is purely out of respect for my parents. They mean a great deal to me, even though I disagree with many of their take on life. In spite of the fact that they moved to the UK years ago and that their children were born here, their views on life have remained very traditional, and there is nothing more important in the African tradition than children.

At the last meeting I was summoned to, about 6 months ago, I told them to back off. I had had enough. I no longer wished to be lectured on the choices I make. It obviously worked because, there hasn’t been a meeting since.

Whether I like it or not, this is the culture I was born into. All I can do is take responsibility for my own life and live my life on my own terms. I will never change for anyone and since my parents want me in their life, they will have to accept me just the way I am.

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  1. Hi Grace, thanks for sharing your story. Being of African descent myself, I totally get what you say about mentalities staying the same even after people have lived in the West for many years. I don’t mind so much if that is the choice people make for themselves. What I do mind a great deal however, is when they expect others to take up those traditional beliefs as well, regardless of how outdated they are. Good on you for standing firm and not succumbing to pressure.

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