I don’t often read too much into statistics, but every once in a while there are certain ones that just seem to stick in my head and pop up when a situation or conversation reminds me of it.
Here’s what’s come to mind recently: in Canada, 43 per cent of marriages end in divorce, and 44 per cent of couples don’t have children.
Pretty random facts to retain, I know. But the reason I’ve been reminded of these stats is because of the conversations both myself and friends of mine have had with people regarding the certain stage we’re at in our lives.
By that, I mean there is a certain direction we’ve become accustomed to people taking with their life. First it’s school, then college, career, marriage, children, grandchildren and retirement.
Currently, my generation is at the “marriage and/or children” stage, and it’s something we’re constantly reminded of by those around us.
For those that have recently gotten hitched, it’s this question: “When are you going to start having children?”
For those of us that are still single, the question is this: “When are you getting married?” It’s a funny question that I’m never really sure how to answer. Do they want an exact date? Since I can’t actually provide that information, I use the standard response – a laugh and shrug of the shoulders. “Hmmm… I don’t know.”
Of course this is all just part of making friendly conversation, and I’m not at all offended by it (At least not now, in my late 20s. Ask me if I’m not married by the time I’m pushing 40 and my reaction may be different). But I know many women out there who are genuinely bothered by these kinds of questions. It makes them feel like they aren’t normal.
One of the worst things we can do as a society to young adults is make them feel like they need to get married now or they need to have a baby now. There are many who view it as the thing to do if they don’t know what to do with their life, but it’s important to have a solid idea of who you are and what you want to accomplish in your life before it goes from a “you” to a “we.”
We don’t all meet that special someone when we’re 22. We aren’t all ready to have a baby and be responsible for another life when we’re 24. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
For some, the picture-perfect life may not include a husband or wife or 2.5 kids. That may be society’s view of normal, but no one should be expected to fall in line if it’s not what they want.
What’s the point of getting married if you will only make each other miserable? What’s the sense in having kids if you don’t give them the love and attention they deserve?
We all hear stories of children being neglected or abused and ask “Why would you have kids if that’s how you’re going to treat them?” So maybe we need to stop expecting everyone to have children if it’s not something they feel is in store for them.
Marriage is work, and parenting is the hardest most demanding job in the world, and not everyone is cut out for it or ready for it right now. Live your life at your own pace, and remember that life isn’t a Disney movie. Only you get to decide what your happily ever after will entail.