If you’re from a Malaysian background and are married, you’re probably going to start receiving questions like:
“When are you going to have kids?”
“You two have been married for a while now, are you not planning to build a family?”
“Isn’t your house lonely and quiet without children?”
“Aren’t you trying for a baby?”
It’s one thing if the questions are coming from close family members, but it’s another thing altogether when they come from people who you probably only meet once or twice in your life, or even from strangers. Worse yet, some people skip the ‘questions’ and go straight into accusations or talk behind your back:
“Guess something’s wrong with you/the partner if you’ve been married for 5 years and still can’t have a baby.”
“I bet the wife has some issues and can’t get pregnant, omg pity the husband for having a wife like that.”
“You better bring your husband a kid or two, or else he might go and find another wife!”
Stop asking people when they’re going to have kids.
I know. Most people who ask these questions usually have good intentions. It’s a conversation starter and sometimes you’re genuinely asking about it because you’re interested in their wellbeing (i.e. if the couple you’re asking the question to is a family member or relative). If the question comes from an older relative or family member, it’s also because they might not know what other topics to ask to initiate a conversation with you.
But, in most cases, the question may not be a good one to ask. You’re probably super close to overstepping your boundaries and intruding into the couple’s private life.
No couple is obligated to have kids. Some may choose to lead a child-free life, just because they don’t want to have kids. Some, like my husband and I, may choose to focus on our career and our life together before deciding to have kids. And some people might be trying hard to get pregnant but God may have different plans for them.
Regardless, it might not be a good idea to ask people when they are having kids. Most of the time, you’re probably putting the couple in an awkward situation, especially more so if they’ve been trying hard to conceive.
People have the rights to live their life however they see fit.
I feel lucky that I managed to escape the questions since I flew off to the UK a few months after my wedding last year. I didn’t make it back home this year for both Raya (Aidilfitri & Aidiladha). So, while I missed out on all the good food and festivities in Malaysia, I also had the opportunity to skip all questions and interrogations from people. No answering the “Bila nak berisi ni?” questions or being compared to my cousins and/or sister-in-law and all that.
I mean, okay, I’m happy that four of my cousins are either having their babies soon or have just given birth recently. I’m also happy that I now have a niece, on top of my very cute and handsome nephew. I am genuinely happy for my friends who have had kids or are expecting a kid soon.
And I do want kids. I love kids and I want to build a cute family with Aiman. We’ve had multiple talks about our future kids, talking about potential baby names and our future plans and so on. I have so much planned out for our future lives, where to live, how to decorate our house and so much more.
But I don’t particularly feel that at this precise moment that I’m ready to be a parent just yet. I’ve pushed the “let’s have kids” thoughts to the back of my head when I was doing my Master’s. My studies were a good excuse to give to people when they ask me about my plans to have kids. I can (safely) say that I wanted to focus on my studies, which is true.
Now? I can’t use that excuse anymore.
Wanting to be financially stable before having kids.
Despite my wants to have kids now, I also realize that I’m not in the right condition to actually have kids. I’ve just finished my Master’s studies, and I have no idea where my life would take me to next. I still need to figure some things out, like what job I’ll be doing and where I’d be living. And that’s just on my end, I still have to think about what Aiman will be doing as well.
What’s the rush, though? I get that some people really want to have kids early on and everything, and that’s OK. I’m fine with people having kids whenever they feel ready to have kids. But why do we feel the need to pressure people into having kids, especially when they are not mentally, physically, emotionally or financially stable to carry the burden of parenthood?
Having a kid is not an easy thing. It’s super expensive and comes with a lot of baggage. Not only do you have to bear the cost of the pregnancy itself, but you have to think about the long-term cost of having a child. You have to add up the cost of renting a bigger place, buying baby clothes and formula, getting a good car seat and stroller and other safety equipment. Other than that, you have to consider hiring a maid, a babysitter or finding a good nursery to take care of your child when you’re at work.
Add that to the increasing cost of higher education as you start to think about their future and saving up to send them to a good college and university. If, God forbids it, you or your child have any complications (during or after pregnancy), that can cost a lot more too.
To each their own.
Sure, having kids can open up a lot of opportunities for rizq and all. I’m not denying the “anak pembawa rezeki” thing. But you can’t shove that “Go and have kids, it’d bring you more rizq” down other people’s throats, especially if you’re not in their shoes. And it’s definitely OK for some couples to want to wait until they’re stable enough before considering to have kids of their own.
But shouldn’t you also want the best for your kids? I mean, I want to give the best for my future kids. And that’s something that I can’t physically do now. I’m still young (relatively), I still have no idea where life’s going to take me to. And, looking at the state of the world right now, I’m not entirely sure I want my kids to grow up in this environment.
That’s just how I am, and other people might have a different view on things. And it’s OK. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. What’s not OK is having people forcing their beliefs down to everyone. What’s not OK is assuming that everyone has the same idea as you do.
So, the next time you think about asking a married couple about their intentions to have kids, maybe take a moment to stop and think. Is that question really needed? Do you really know the couple’s decisions around the topic? Are they going to be offended or hurt by your question?
Or, you know, just stop asking that question altogether. There are more conversation starters that you can use to spark a discussion. So skip the awkwardness and save the couple the trouble of having to explain their situation to you.
Until next time – stay awesome and take care!