• Deborah Charles-Nelson

'The Pressure to Have a Child?'

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

I grew up in what some may call a 'semi-typical' Nigerian household (my fellow Nigerians will understand) – you know: 'the prostrate/bow when you see an elder', or the 'bring me a bowl of water to wash my hand after eating pounded yam and okra soup'-type of family. With the 'typicals' – for some reason – comes this pressure to get married, even though you were never really allowed to date!? How ironic, right? But it doesn't tend to stop there, once/if you do get married, you're then bombarded with the much dreaded question: "when will you start having kids?" Funnily enough, this question doesn't just come from parents, or that prying aunty, it also comes from younger acquaintances, work colleagues and a lot of church folk!

Some may say I am something of an "old soul", “born before my time". I got married at 23 years old (I was in a long relationship with my then-boyfriend-and-now-husband for 6 years prior to tying the knot - so I didn't feel rushed in that respect) and had my sweet baby boy at 24 (whom I am extremely grateful for). Many would say I was mature for my age, so it was all good, but of recent I have been assessing my life and wondering, “did I feel some sort of pressure to have a child?”. I mean, it's glamourised in the media – when you have young mothers like Kylie Jenner with everything taken care of, it only makes sense that it's the next progressive step in the relationship. Not to mention how much it's drummed into our heads from our parents, and then all the questions from those aunties (yes you know what I'm talking about). I have an older sister who isn't married and doesn't have a child as of yet, and the pressure is A LOT, the questions are A LOT, and the silent judgement is A LOT. I also have friends who are married but do not have kids, and still the constant badgering on this maternal clock is A LOT.

Guys, I am not perfect, neither am I claiming to be, but we need to do better. I have been guilty of asking the question, "when do you want to start having kids?", but I'm realising that it is a sensitive issue and a very personal question. That friend, niece, daughter or work colleague may have fertility issues, may not be ready to have children or simply may never want to have kids for their own personal reasons. But like I said, it's their own personal reasons and its their right for it to be kept that way.

Being a mum myself, I would describe parenthood as 'beautiful chaos'. Motherhood is both fulfilling and challenging all at once, and it's not an easy job in the slightest. You have to be ready mentally for the role you're about to take on – I mean, there is suddenly a little human that looks up to you for everything you do (both good and bad); it's not something that can or should be rushed into.

So as I close, I leave with this: let's all (myself included) do better this year; as a friend, a sister, a brother, or an aunty. Let's educate ourselves on what is respectful, and how to graciously respect each other's personal lives and preferences. Just because someone else's life isn't following the 'blueprint' for what you may consider the normal progression doesn't mean it's not amazing and wholesome. 2019 let's all do better and be better...