Latinas and the great baby debate
Woman looking lovingly at a baby (© Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Getty Images)
The last thing I want to do is disappoint my family, but when I think of my sedentary biological clock I’m overcome with the anxiety and guilt of not meeting their expectations to expand the family with grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Yes, those are plural!
I’m comforted in knowing that I’m not alone as recently Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, opened up about not having children in her memoir, My Beloved World, and spoke candidly on the topic in a Today Show interview. It reaffirms that many Latinas are delaying starting a family (if they decide to start one at all) to focus on completing their studies, building careers, traveling, volunteering, and putting themselves first and foremost.
Yet, there is a sense of guilt that we experience as a result of putting our needs and wants first as traditionally “mamá” and “abuelita” always put the family first.
It’s an unspoken tension that we are struggling with behind closed doors because we grow up being taught to be selfless and not selfish. When family is expected to be first, how can we selfishly choose to put our dreams first and delay marriage and child bearing?
After all, “mamá y papá” are not getting any younger and they want to enjoy their grandchildren!
This doesn’t change the reality that the U.S birthrate is declining and according to the 2008 census the average age of first-time mothers in 2008 was 25 and rising. The most recent data, shared by the Baby Center, shows an increasing trend supporting women over 25 having their first child.
According to a 2012 report by economic forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, there are many factors that are playing a role in this trend including the economy and the steady increase in the average age of first marriages. In a Bloomberg Businessweek article citing the study, it was reported that the average age of first marriage is almost 27 for women and 29 for men. This is an increase of roughly 1.5 years since the 2007.
For some of us there exists an alternate reality that could lead down the avenue of disappointment as well. What if that sedentary clock never starts ticking? Or what if it ticks too late? Can you live a complete life and be childless?
If you’re on the fence, regularly checking in with yourself to see how you feel can keep you grounded. Be honest with yourself, and if you continue to feel the same acknowledge the answer whatever it may be.
It takes a village to raise a child and some of us were meant to be great “tías” instead of moms. As selfish as it may sound, it’s your life and you only live once so you have to be straight with yourself. If you feel the need out of courtesy and love for your family, you can manage expectations by sharing your sentiments.
Having children is really a life changing decision and you shouldn’t rush into it, especially if you are unsure. Being honest with yourself and family members can help to ease the guilt you feel. Share your goals and dreams and invite your family to get excited about other areas in your life.
In the end, our families are looking to get closer to us and typically having children brings our families together. If you should one day decide you are ready to have children, they’ll be able to share in that experience as well.
Nathalie Alberto is a communications professional focused on brand marketing with emphasis in the Hispanic market. As the first in her family to be born in the United States, she has a passion for preserving her Argentine roots while pursuing the opportunities her family moved stateside in order to attain. In her spare time she enjoys writing, reading, good food, adventure: traveling, meeting new people and learning about other cultures.