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Saturday, June 30, 2007


“Having children” has mostly become the first priority of a couple to get married in Indonesia. I am not really sure though whether they really love children or just to fulfill society’s norm to be considered happy and “normal”. In her book SI PARASIT LAJANG, Ayu Utami mentioned three most coveted things in Indonesia: getting married, having a job and having children. These three things have become society’s norm so that people will easily feel miserable when they don’t have one of them.
Therefore, people will try hard to have a baby because they are convinced that children will make their life happier, and that the relationship between a husband and a wife will be more loving and harmonious. For religious people, having a baby is also believed to be one virtue because the couple supports to create pious young generation. More pious children from pious family will create a more pious nation in the future. And religious people think that a pious country will get blessings from God.
Having a baby is also considered one way to help marriage run well so that it will not be easily broken. When a couple often gets involved in quarrels, and probably thinks of getting divorced, older people (perhaps parents or uncles/aunts, or even neighbors) suggest them to have a baby because they are of opinion that the baby will “glue” the relationship between the husband and the wife. Children are expected to safe the almost broken family.
Therefore, children have mostly become one “best” reason for a couple not to get divorced. People in Indonesia strongly believe that broken family will create problematic children. When a child or a teenager has problems, and (un)fortunately he/she comes from “broken” family, society will easily condemn, “Aha … his/her parents got divorced, no wonder if the child is problematic.” It gives impression that “broken” family will easily engender problems to the children more than those who come from “complete” family.
And after having a baby (babies) they will try to maintain their marriage no matter how many frictions and problems come to their daily life. Sticking to the stigma that broken family will create problematic children, some (or many?) couples force themselves to keep the marriage although they are not happy with it. They (mistakenly) think that living in an unhappy marriage where the parents oftentimes quarrel is still better for the children rather than to live in broken family. Besides, wanting to be considered as an ideal family by society, many couples try their best to give that false impression to the neighbors/community/society without being aware that inside their heart they are hurt.
Being forced to always give happy impression to society while in fact they are not, many couples then subconsciously suffer from psychological problems that make them not able to treat their children well. Sometimes the psychological problem comes in the form of hating the children because they think that the children become the only reason for them not able to get divorced. Questions from society such as, “If you get divorced, don’t you think of your children? They will become problematic children. It is poor of them because they will lose one of the parents. Or perhaps they will lose both of the parents if then the parents will get married again.”
They don’t realize that “healthy” children will come from “healthy” situation too at home. They are sensitive enough to perceive whether the parents really have “healthy” relationship or not. I assume that they also can sense whether they become scapegoat or not for the parents to go on living in a “complete” family although love has probably disappeared between the couple. It will be worse when the parents really scold the children as an obstacle to be separated, to have a healthier psychological situation when they live separately.
The parents forget that their children have full right to be raised in a healthy psychological marriage to grow as psychologically healthy future generation. Instead of living in a marriage where the parents hate each other, children will grow better to live with single parent who is psychologically healthy.
It is high time for people now to have children because they really love to have children, not only as decoration (for example to be considered happy and “normal” couple) or investment for the parents’ future life. People who are not lucky to get babies from God must think further to adopt children only for those two reasons.
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Anonymous said...

how about stop asking newly wed when they are gonna have baby?

btw, what is your take of gay couple or singleton adopting child?

A Feminist Blog said...

Well, in my opinion asking newly wed not to have a baby is violating someone's right to have a baby.
For gay couple or singleton adopting a child, why not?

EBIET said...

isn't it to have a child or children is a natural thing? i agree that it's better to have chidren on basis of want to have them not because want to make them either by personal necessity or social benefit. but from what you're saying it's only from the view point of an adult as parent or married couple. how bout the child's insight? is it fair for them to have an incomplete family?

A Feminist Blog said...

Ebiet, thanks for the comment.
In my opinion children have right to be raised in a happy situation in the family, rather than just in a "complete" family. What's the point to be raised in a "complete" family, where the father and the mother live together but they quarrel everyday? That's definitely not psychologically healthy. Do you agree?

EBIET said...

i agree with you 99%, sure children have the right to be raised in a "happy" environment, however, from what i see in my surrounding, mostly children raised in an incomplete family tend to try to find their identity harder than them from a complete family.
sure if we talked about an ideal atmosphere for children to grow, everything should be there. but when we can't choose all, i believe a complete family is a better solution "in most cases".

Anonymous said...

I suppose it is all because the people in our culture still stick to the "issue" that children raised in an incomplete family will get troubled. The press from society is still very strong so that many children feel insecure with that. It will create hostility in the children toward their parents. This will engender unhealthy relationship.
A complete family that really live in a healthy relationship, yes, but not a complete family that fight everyday.

Therry said...

Why do people want to have children? Is it because:

a) It's the natural thing to do. After marriage, comes children

b) My parents are itching to hold their first newborn grandchild

c) I'd like to have a miniature version of me

d) God has told me to go forth and multiply

e) All my friends already have three kids and I feel left behind

f) It will make our love stronger

g) I want to have babies because they're so cute

h) I want to make the world a better place?

Which one is the valid answer? I'd say the last one. But think about it - how many people in this earth have actually done that?