Pressured into marriage and kids...
Amelia Fox

All in good time

We look around and see people taking the next step in their adult lives – getting married and having children. But when are we ready to do the same? And how do we fight the pressure?

Under pressure

We all like to think that we aren’t susceptible to pressure. That when it comes down to it, we won’t let other people’s opinions affect us. And there’s nothing wrong with that – after all, you should only do what you are willing to live with.

But at some point, you will have a certain thought that will trigger that 'Uh-oh, I think they’ve gotten to me' alarm in your head. It happens for different things, but probably none more pronounced than with marriage and children.

Growing up, it seemed like even being seen being too cosy with members of the opposite sex was a punishable offence. Parents beat you up for it; schools reported you for it and even your peers made fun of you for it.
Then at some point, with no warning, it all changes.

We move from 'If you focused more on your studies instead of girls/boys…' to 'Why don’t you have a boy/girl in your life?' in almost a single bound.

Things change

When this switch happens, the pressure assaults you from all sides. Your parents start to get more inquisitive and friends try to set you up. People try to talk you into staying in a relationship that you know is faltering because to them it makes more sense to be with someone than to be alone.

Then people around you start to get married and/or have kids, and pretty soon everyone seems to be looking at you thinking 'Well? When are you going to get it together?'

Except it isn’t that easy. Having kids when you have planned adequately with a partner you trust is a blessing. The reverse isn’t the end of the world, but it’s a more difficult prospect. It’s also strange for parents who grew up in an era when single parenthood didn’t appear commonplace, to pressure you into having kids even if you’d be raising them on your own.

It’s up to you

Unfortunately, more and more people seem to be in marriages and/or having children simply because their parents or peers were constantly on their case about it. It’s what has been happening around them, so they perceive it as the next logical step, regardless of their preparedness for it. Sure, it’s fun to have play-dates with your friends or let your parents dote on their grandchildren. But no one is privy to your struggles behind the scenes.

Children are a lifelong commitment. Children require a level of sacrifice that seems Herculean in the instant gratification-fueled world we now live in.

Children also need both parents around, parents who love and support each other. You can’t do that if you’re only with your partner to make your parents happy. You may also not be able to freely give if you feel your decision to have kids deprived you of your dreams. A reluctant parent would be unfortunate for a child who did not ask for such.

So while it may seem to be unpopular or you may get teased, you must have your own plan and then stick to it. In the end, your happiness will be the happiness of those who come after you.
 

Have you felt the pressure? Share your experiences with us in the comments or write them on Facebook LM Africa and LM Naija. If you have any question, visit our discussion forum Let’s Talk.

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