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The Trouble With Being Born: The Idea of Parenthood in the 21st Century

" I do not forgive myself for being born. It is as if, creeping into this world, I had profaned a mystery, betrayed some momentous pledge, committed a fault of nameless gravity. Yet in a less assured mood, birth seems a calamity I would be miserable not having known." - E.M Cioran

The idea of birth and existence haunts one as much as the idea of death. Rarely do we take a moment to ponder upon the complexities of differentiating between the two. Every individual, at some point in life, has at least once regretted birth and wished for the sweet oblivion of non-existence. It's fascinating to think about the fact that almost every person, we share this planet with, has thought about not being here, just like us. The similarity that succeeds in comforting and disturbing this chain of thought lies in the differences that initiate the feelings of not belonging. While everyone reaches the same result, the origin of such thoughts differs more than we would imagine. Do these thoughts stem out for no reason or are we seriously under-valuing the concept of resistance?

Back in the days, when humans were nothing more than a tribe of hunter-gatherers in a land full of predators - one of the many ways of survival was transferring information. By transferring crucial information to their offspring, humans eliminated the risk of dying because of the same obstacles again and again (which also explains the fact why some of us are afraid of things like height or spiders while others are not). The information that was genetically passed onto us by our ancestors not only saved our lives but also helped us in evolving at an exponential rate. However, giving birth to survive as a species is not the case anymore, man has evolved into a social animal now, thriving in the shadows of societal norms and modernity. The reasons behind giving birth have changed drastically concerning the current day and age.

Today, the idea of parenthood relies heavily upon the hollow parameters of love, companionship, and societal pressure. One hardly takes into account the amount of in-depth research and personal analysis that goes into taking one of the most crucial decisions ever. From making sure the parents are physically and mentally competent to planning out the financial nitty-gritty, the idea of bearing a child requires a viable action plan and an explicit thought process. Unfortunately, this inefficiency only worsens when we take a look at third-world nations. In countries such as India, the social construct of marriage seems to determine the status of birth of an individual. With deep-rooted patriarchy in place, the notion of "family expansion" is tied to the woman's apron strings, leaving her no choice but to give in to the traditional gender roles. However, slowly and gradually, more and more women have come forward and been vocal about their demands of gaining freedom for their bodies and roles in society.

With changes in time, the bases of consideration have evolved too. A fresh example of one of the most crucial, unforeseen parameters being the universal circumstances of health and well-being. In the surge of COVID, the importance of immunity and health infrastructures has made a soaring impact on the birth and death rates around the world. The recent decrease in the Human Rights Index and the Democratic Index also points towards a challenging road that emphasizes the fact that political conditions hold as much importance as financial ones. The impact of certain tumultuous government policies can go a long way in doing more harm than good. Raising a child in a crashing economy is considered as dangerous as raising one under a dictatorial government. These are some of the few examples of certain things that go unnoticed while addressing the topic of bringing another human being to this planet. And while these factors cover a wide range of topics, there is an aspect that is a new addition to the list - Environment. 

Issues such as Global warming, overpopulation, and climate change have ignited the need for a deeper dive into the conventional way of looking at parenthood. The exhaustion of limited natural and wildlife resources, topped with an overflowing population has not helped in making a positive shift. While the world suffers from new pandemics and a shortage of basic amenities like fresh water and clean air, adding to its misery would not be a wise decision. Not only would these choices affect the world but these choices could help save it too. It is no surprise that owing to the demerits of overpopulation, some governments have tried to undemocratically control family dynamics in the past too. However, a better way of handling such a situation hides behind the power of education and social awareness. By providing sex education to teenagers at an appropriate age, the complex workings and weight of the responsibilities of raising a child can be introduced for discussion. 

For those who can't comprehend the logic behind considering such things, picture this - every year, millions of kids are forced to grow up in households that are financially inadequate to support their future, this results in the child feeling bitter and the family incapable. Kids are navigating their lives in war-torn areas of conflict without having any fault of their own, growing up with no access to opportunities or resources. Those blessed with these amenities seem to lack something else of utmost importance. Mental health, for instance, is something that a lot of families don't even discuss with their kids, resulting in the upbringing of troubled individuals who have no exposure to a safe space where they can talk about their feelings. These tiny elements shape up people that try to lead a normal life while constantly carrying broken pieces of their traumatic pasts. 

The concept of parenthood needs to be discussed in a new light while taking into consideration not just the parents' will but also the future of the children and the environment they are brought up in. It's about time we break free from the shackles of social pressure and expectations and carefully think about the lives involved.



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Tags: opinion piece parenthood overpopulation 21st century parenting


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