“Family = marriage then kids. Period.”
As a child, this ‘ideal family’ story has been repeated to me over and over. I started to believe this was the only way I could live my life, and if I never reached this, that I was a failure. But as my two serious relationships blew up (and let’s be honest, dating with this looping in the back of your mind isn’t the best either), I found myself rethinking this.
Why is the ‘ideal family’ only identified as this?
And don’t get me started on the kids thing. Ever since my 20s, my mom has insisted that I must have children. Her reasoning is that after she dies, I’ll have someone to take care of me. (I guess she didn’t anticipate the rise of androids?)
And when I started protesting the idea, she would always counter it with: “Oh, you just haven’t met the right person yet.” Like this magical man would blow fairy “mom” dust into my womb and it would suddenly make me want to have kids? Um…no, thank you. I’d rather he blow something else, but that’s another story for another time!
Solving the Family Equation
I remember growing up believing that this ‘ideal’ family equation would solve all of my problems. Like math. (I’m Asian so yeah, I tossed in that math joke). Life apparently didn’t matter until you held both the marriage and children cards in your hands.
The pressure to follow this put me into a tailspin and added to my story of being ‘unlovable’. When my first serious relationship fell apart, I was in a state of panic. I had just turned 30 and was now single. HOW HORRIBLE RIGHT? Even my mom treated me like I needed to get going on the marriage and kids train before it left the station forever. So I started dating feverishly, doing my best to find someone who would fit my standards (and that of my mother’s) so I could take part in this ‘ideal family’. (I swear, this is where a lot of my grey hairs come from.)
Every guy I found didn’t even come close to what I was looking for. The deeper I dove into the dating pool, the more I realized I didn’t want to have children. I saw the way my brother and his family dealt with their family and it just seemed like SO. MUCH. STRESS.
Then when I met my last ex, I started seriously (and I mean SERIOUSLY) contemplating having kids. I let myself envision a life where I would have a halfer kid(s). But when he told me he would still be off travelling around the world for his work, that closed my womb down. I’m not into single parenting. Don’t get me wrong, there are some AMAZING single parents out there who are knocking it out of the park. For me, I don’t care if I have the village living next door, I personally don’t want to be a single parent. Cuz parenting is HARD and we need to give parents credit.
Ultimately, when my last ex and I broke up, I gave in to the thought that I would never have the ‘ideal family’. That I would never have kids, or feel them growing inside me. And as a single person, that put me at a lower level in society’s (and my mom’s) eyes.
The Incorrect Family Idea
This idea of what ‘family’ is has changed since my mom’s generation. I understand if some people feel the urge to populate the earth (hey, go for it cuz that leaves me the freedom to do what I want to do). But do not, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER have children if you honestly don’t want to have kids.
I truly believe if I had a child, I would be resentful of them. I’d put up a good front (as every good Asian is trained to) because you can’t ever let other people see you struggle. Then there might be days when you think about your alternate life, one where you didn’t have kids and how that would have turned out.
This story my mom planted in my head is incorrect. She was afraid I would be lonely if I didn’t have kids. But I believe if I did have kids, I would be even lonelier. There would be a hollow feeling inside me because I did it for her, not for myself. And on her terms. So where does that leave me, as a person? I would now be responsible for another life for the rest of my life.
If we continue to live our lives for someone else, is it even your life? In my opinion, obviously not, because you let your life be hijacked by the culture, society, or familial values.
Your Values, Your Life
Family isn’t about getting married, then having kids anymore. I have a tier of unconventional families that I absolutely ADORE and would probably kill for, if it ever came to that. (Y’all know who you are.)
So this math equation that never added up for me? I’m freeing myself from it. One of my friends said it best: We’re not meant to have children in this lifetime because we’ve had them in others. What we’re meant to do in this lifetime is guide this generation’s children. (I don’t know if I even fit into that but I like the sentiment.)
What are your thoughts on the ‘ideal’ family? Did you ever question what your parents set out for you? Leave it in the comments below.
Interested in learning more about dismantling the stories you have grown up with? You can sign up here for more updates.