How many times have you heard or read people state that getting married and having kids is pretty much the epitome of success (or at least suggesting that in a myriad of ways that it is)?
I'll be the first to admit that I was guilty of this attitude that marriage and having kids is the epitome of success. I believed that I should get a university degree, a career, then get married and have kids. Now that I'm 20 years old and going towards my final year of my degree, my mind is changing. I have come to the realisation that success is:
... achieving what you want to achieve.For the smart alec's that may say 'oh but getting a BTEC is not success' well it's a success if it's their goal and they've achieved it. Everyone has different goals and not everyone is aiming to get a £100k p/a job. Not everyone is capable of achieving such a feat so it's good that people are realistic about their goals (whatever they may be).
When I think back on what I used to believe, I look back with a bit of embarrassment but I excuse myself because I was young. Nearly everyone can get married and have kids so it's not exactly something brag worthy. What should ideally be classed as a success, is how well the kids are raised and how long the marriage lasts etc.
Anyhow, the bottom-line is, success shouldn't correlate with marriage or children and too often people try and use that as a measure of success (the people I have seen anyway).
For instance, you may have a career, your own home and a marriage. Your friend who is your age may have a career but still lives at home and she is not married. Why should people deem you (the person with the marriage, career and probably future kids) more successful? Just because you're married?
Not everyone is aiming for marriage and that person living with mummy and daddy may be living there because it's cheaper/more practical or because they just love living at home.
Does a marriage mean that you've been able to get someone and you won't die all alone? Therefore making you a much more attractive individual (looks and personality-wise) in comparison to your friend?
Does not being married mean no one's checking for you, making your personality and looks unappealing and therefore you'll die alone?
I don't believe that at all, yet people try and insinuate that all the time. I have seen and heard people use their marriage to appear mightier than those who aren't married: 'I'm better than you because I have a ring on my finger and a man in my bed'. Someone who seriously thinks this way should probably not be married.
Someone who chooses not to get married because they aren't ready or they're just taking it slow are being very responsible and people shouldn't scold them for that. Besides, not many relationships end in marriage. Less people are getting married these days because of cultural changes.
Oprah is one of those good examples of successful people that aren't married or haven't got any children, yet people insinuate that she must be feeling empty inside because of that. She appears to be doing just fine. Doesn't she have a girls school in South Africa? I think she took them shopping recently too. Those little girls look happy and they definitely look up to Oprah.
While the need to reproduce has been ingrained in us because it's an evolutionary survival mechanism for our genetic lineage, people are getting away more and more from what is natural to us. Times are changing, gender roles are changing and our culture is becoming more and more individualistic.
There's no doubt that parenthood can be a rewarding and exciting stage in life but seriously, parenthood and marriage is not for everyone and some people should be encouraged not to have any kids at all. I myself have doubts about having kids someday because the world is just that messed up. I wouldn't want them to have to endure what many other people are enduring. It's painful thinking about it.
And as if it's not awful enough to expect everyone to be married with kids before you deem them as successful, this is always used in the case of women. It's like a woman's sole purpose is to get tied down and birth kids left and right before they can be seen as successful. This may have been the case 60 years back (and in collectivist cultures today) but today it isn't the case and women have a lot more freedom and opportunities now, than they did back then.
Marriage isn't the end all, be all form of success and it is unfair to assume that everyone needs to get married or have children in order to live fulfilling lives. I'll probably get kicked for saying this but some people may even argue that they are leading more fulfilling lives because they have no kids. Human beings do not fit in a 'one-size fits all' box and that needs to be appreciated.