Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Childless Generation

My daughter made a startling announcement recently: she does not want any children.  She is starting college soon, maybe too young to make such an important life decision, but she said it with such determination it startled me. 

When prodded by a friend, my daughter responded that children are obstacles to career advancement. Judging from her explanation, she sees traveling in her future and long work hours. Although she's excellent with children, having her own is not an option. 

I let it go. It was difficult, but I just let her explain and just zipped my mouth. Any retort on my part would have been passionate and personal, and not the reasoning such a discussion deserves. I want my daughter to have children. I want to be a grandmother to her children, but in the end it is her life and therefore her decision. I could have argued that she could be both a mother and a professional, but it would have been misleading. Not many mothers can tolerate being divided by those two forces. Many times, I find it very difficult myself although I have made a personal commitment to building my own career now. At times, I wonder if watching me struggle with the work-life balance has influenced her decision to go childless. 

After the shock wore off, I found myself pleased that my daughter was thinking so far into her future. It was especially pleasing to finally realize she was not settling for a life of domestic servitude, or an intermittent career where her life is split between childbearing and professional advancement. Most women leave the workforce to raise their children, and with all the growing support for us in the workplace now, many of us still do. Which is why most jobs available to women are either low-paying jobs that accommodate a mom's disjointed skills development or the cut throat higher positions saturated by men willing to devote the time and energy, for that matter. It is difficult to raise children and aim high, although it is possible. Either way, it's a tough choice to make, which is why I'm leaving it all up to my daughter. Whatever path she chooses, she will have my full support. 

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