Confused, Undecided, Afraid: Millennials Aren’t Sure Of Parenthood

As most of us reach peak adulthood, it is no wonder the motherhood question hangs low. But many women today are on the fence about parenthood. For them, family pressure and societal needs have taken over their freedom to make choices.

Rudrani Gupta
New Update

Image from Unsplash

The words 'maa ki mamta' have stayed with us since our childhood. From TV shows, and films to society, everyone told has that women are born with an intrinsic feeling of being a nurturer and raising kids. On the other hand, despite having kids or doing this oh-so-wonderful job of giving birth to a race, women are not valued. They still remain the secondary gender whose value and identity revolve around the male members. Why didn't anyone talk about fathers' role in parenting? Why did parenting become synonymous with motherhood alone? Just because women have a uterus? Is it not more of an objectification of women rather than their glorification?


Motherhood is seen as a milestone that women need to achieve to feel complete in life. It is considered the only reason women are brought into this world. Since childhood, girls are schooled to be good mothers so that they do not fall behind from being labelled as good women. The sanctity of womanhood in our society is synonymous with motherhood. A woman is righteous and complete only if she is a mother. 

What if a woman doesn't want to be a mother

But what if a woman cannot be a mother? Or doesn't want to be a mother? Society has terms for those women too. They are rendered useless, harsh or unlucky. They consider such women empty of love and mamta. Such women are not accepted as normal in our society. They become subjects of jokes, criticism and sympathy. But are these things really necessary? Is it really important for society to criticise women who cannot be mothers? By doing this, it just reminds women that they have failed the only purpose in life. Or that their hard work to build themselves as an individual was a total waste.

Urvashi Butalia rightly pointed out in a conversation with SheThePeople, that motherhood is used as a way to restrict women within the domestic space. By romanticising motherhood, society has also made women feel guilty if they want to make a different choice. 

Motherhood is a choice: women know it now

On the contrary, women are not backing down now. Without any fear of criticism, women have now made motherhood a choice. A choice that they want to make on their own and not by being influenced by perceptions of society. Indian writer Urvashi Butalia told SheThePeople that women need not be mothers to feel complete. She is not a mother and yet she is not harsh, frustrated or unloving. She has had loving relationships within and outside the family.  


Similarly, Indian Journalist Anubha Bhonsle also said that not having a child was her choice and she is not ashamed of it. In a brutally honest conversation, she said that she wanted to have an independent, "selfish", fun and work-filled life. She didn't buy into the myth that a child can fix a marriage when she chose to divorce her partner and embrace singlehood. 

It is often said that women feel the urge to be mothers as they grow up. However, this is not true with every woman. There are women in our society who have hostile relationships with their kids or who behest the idea of being a mother. Adding on similar lines, actor and writer Saloni Chopra said, "We are already having too many kids anyway...I don't think every woman needs to have a kid." She also added that a woman's identity need not be connected to being a mother. A woman can have different purposes in life. 

But what are common women like us thinking about motherhood? Do we have the choice to not have a child? Can we survive in society without being pregnant at some point in our life? It is difficult. For common women, family pressure and societal needs take power over their freedom to make their own choices. I interacted with a few women around me about their beliefs when it comes to motherhood. While none of them denied it, they all expressed a fear of embracing it.

But why are millennials afraid of embracing motherhood? 

Sonam Priya, A PhD candidate at Patna University said that she is not against motherhood but some factors disturb her. She said that mothers in our society are seen as sacrificial women who have no choice and identity of their own. "A mother is not just a mother to her child but her entire family." 

So she fears that by embracing motherhood, she might also suffer from this loss of identity. "Whom will I go to if I have some problem in life?" 


On the other hand, Nisha Suman, a fashion designer in Delhi, said, "Embracing motherhood puts the pressure of raising the child right. In my generation, I have seen my parents committing mistakes in parenting. My fear regarding motherhood is that what if I commit the same mistakes?" 

These responses made me wonder two things- one good and another bad. I was happy that not every woman around me considers motherhood as an unavoidable responsibility, they are at least honest enough to say they are apprehensive about it. But, are their apprehensions in the right direction? Are their fears right? Don't they show the ugly picture of our society? Is it not sad that women are 'afraid' of embracing motherhood? 

You would also agree with me that a choice that has been made out of fear is not a sign of healthy freedom. In fact, it's not freedom at all. It is a slavery to certain thought processes or perceptions. Similarly, women who dread motherhood are enslaved by societal perceptions that do not value mothers or that they don't know the right way of parenting. 

If I tell you about myself, I don't wanna be a mother either. While this statement of mine expresses my choice, it also wraps my fear. In today's day and age, it is very hard to be a working mother. It is a struggle to get proper maternity leave and fair treatment at work. Having a child would put pressure on my career and being a career-oriented woman, this is the last thing that I want. 

While motherhood is a choice, women should be able to make it without any outside influence. It should be their choice alone. And not of societal perceptions. Because perceptions aim to either control you or freak you out so much that you dread your own identity. 

Views expressed by the author are their own

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