The pressures women experience to have it all by 30

Roisin Maguire

Today, the ideal future is a family, a job you love, kids and a dog. It’s the expectation of women to have children, and to have that picture perfect family by the age of 30.

However, less women want children. There are many reasons for this, for example, the way that the planet is now with regards to climate change and some just don’t want the hassle.

Taking Emma Watson as an example. She is 29-years-old and has talked about the pressure she has faced by people to have children and a husband soon. This pressure is often felt before the age of 30 as if there is a ticking clock to get these life milestones out of the way by this age. 

Watson has called herself “self partnered” as she told British Vogue that she is happy being single for her 30th birthday. She said, “It took me a long time, but I’m very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered”.

Self partnering means being happy and content as an individual and not seeking fulfillment in their life from a significant other. However, this doesn’t mean a self partnered person doesn’t ever want to get married. They can date and enjoy relationships but they feel like it is not what defines their life. 

When Gwyneth Paltrow divorced from Chris Martin, she called it “conscious uncoupling”. She put a positive spin on something that is usually viewed as negative. This is possibly an easier way in dealing with a divorce. Seeing the positive in the negative is extremely difficult especially when the world is watching and criticising you. 

More women are not having children and are being called selfish for it. There is sometimes a view that if you have a womb, you must use it and lots of women today are going against this old fashioned idea. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that within the next decade, the number of couples without children will be more than the amount of couples that do have children. A podcast by ABC called “Ladies, We Need To Talk” brought together the stories of women are choosing to be childless to clear up the misconceptions that these women are shallow and immature.

Yumi Stynes, the presenter of the podcast introduced it by explaining that if you are a woman that doesn’t have kids, it’s presumed that you either haven’t met that special someone or that you can’t have any due to medical reasons. There couldn’t possibly be another reason for not having children. 

She said, “Then as we get older, our perceived success in life is often measured by whether or not we’re married, own a home or have children.” 

There is a societal expectation to have a child even though we have come a long way from the beliefs of the 1950’s.

There is also a belief that women who don’t want to have children hate them, which isn’t true. They can be an aunt and enjoy time with their nephew or niece but know that they don’t want this life for themselves.

Stynes mentioned that some of the stigma of being child free can come from people not being able to to separate the female identity and motherhood. She asked Dr. Zoë Krupka if there was a correlation and she said: “not being able to separate woman and mother and not being able to see there are difficult choices on both fences.” She said that some women don’t want the hassle of dealing with “the perfection around mothering and that perfect mother ideal”. 

Krupka said that she wished this stigma ended after your 40’s but its goes on into your 70’s when people start to ask women do they have grand-children.

One of the guests on the podcast said that she felt like she spent her 20’s, 30’s and 40’s explaining to people why she chooses to be child free. She said that her husband has also had to justify why they don’t have children. At a dinner party with their friends, he turned the question around and asked the other couple why they chose to have kids. It turned out that they didn’t have an answer to this question.

This guest also made a very good point of saying that some people have kids to ensure they have someone to look after them when they’re older which is selfish. However, there is no guarantee that a person will have a good relationship with their child so there is also no guarantee that they will look after their parents.

The guests also mentioned that the common response to women saying they don’t want to have children is that they will change their mind. People need to bear in mind that not all women feel maternal and there are a variety of reasons why women choose to be child free.

Kayleigh McPhelim, a young student from Monaghan said: “not even a Leaving Certificate student and already I was being told that having a family was important and I’d live an unfulfilling life if I didn’t have kids.”

McPhelim also said that she can see the same thing happen now to her younger sister which makes them both feel uncomfortable.

Roisin Maguire

Image Credit: Pexel