Is it bad not to want more kids?

By Lilian Liu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/1 15:28:39

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Nowadays, it's hard not to be surprised when browsing through my WeChat Moments or any other social media platform. Every two weeks or so, I discover that one of my friends is pregnant. I am seriously experiencing a social media baby boom.

"Wait, she just had a baby a while ago. Oh, that's her second one," that has been the conversation inside my head since the Chinese government relaxed the one-child policy. Before the policy change, having a second child was an open secret that was widely discussed when celebrities went abroad to give birth to more children.

Having a second child is supposed to be a good thing, right? My friends are finding happiness, and I should express my best wishes to them - that is, until the conversation digresses and they start asking when you will have another kid and why you don't want one.

They are not satisfied with just finding their own happiness; they want to make you as happy as they are.

I am not the only person that experiences this particular kind of peer pressure. My friends who insist on having one child or no kids at all are increasingly getting shocked looks from people in their circles.

Now that the government allows you to have more kids, there's apparently no reason not to have one more. It is even possible to get a baby bonus from the government to have more kids, according to a news report.

People have their reasons for wanting more kids. But there are loads of reasons that stop me from having more. First, there's too much energy and responsibility involved. I won't have time for two kids when I am already struggling to deal with one.

Second, I just don't have the finances to afford another kid. Raising a two-year-old costs at least 3,000 yuan ($460) a month in Beijing, excluding annual travel costs. That just covers food, toys, books and an early childhood education class per week.

Is it that expensive to raise a child? Yes, it is, especially when you want your children to have more options in everything from food and clothes to hobbies.

A fundamental question that is often ignored is whether having a baby should be all about personal choice. You get asked similar questions throughout your entire life: Why don't you go to college? Why don't you get married?

It is not the government or the society that should dictate your personal choices.

The society just has too much of a say in my personal life. Maybe it is the result of a collective culture, and maybe some or most people are fine with it.

In the end, even though I feel pressured, I am very happy that more people are brave enough not to feel guilty about making up their own minds and sticking to their choices. Isn't it nice to be tolerant of the notion of being different in China?

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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