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Man Publicly Shames A Childfree Woman, She Claps Back So Strongly That He Takes “Sick Leave”
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Man Publicly Shames A Childfree Woman, She Claps Back So Strongly That He Takes “Sick Leave”

Interview With Expert
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The expectation for women to have children is still deeply ingrained in our modern-day society. With age, these pressures can get even more intense, and dealing with questions like “When are you going to have a baby?” is often unpleasant, as many find this topic too personal or sensitive to discuss with just anyone.

Recently, redditor Minimum_Reaction_724 shared how she endured similar inquiries from a male colleague at a work seminar. At first, she tried to ignore them, but he kept pushing for it, which led her to tell a lie that embarrassed him in front of everyone.

Scroll down to find the full story and a conversation with Kent Bausman, Ph.D., a sociologist with over 25 years of experience in teaching, research, and public engagement, who kindly agreed to tell us more about societal pressures to have children.

Having to deal with the pressure of having kids as an adult can be unpleasant

Image credits: Karolina Kaboompics / pexels (not the actual photo)

To get out of this uncomfortable situation, this woman lied, shaming her colleague

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Image credits: Jack Sparrow / pexels (not the actual photo)

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Image credits: RDNE Stock project / pexels (not the actual photo)

Image credits: Minimum_Reaction_724

Many adults nowadays are choosing to have kids later or not to have them at all

Many adults nowadays are choosing to have kids later or not to have them at all, as some say they haven’t found the right person, want to focus on their career, aren’t ready yet, or aren’t generally excited about the prospect of parenthood. 

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This tendency is evident in population growth, which has significantly slowed down in recent years. In fact, data suggests that 2021 was the slowest one yet. In addition, the average age to give birth hit 30 in the US in 2022, which was the highest on record yet. This decline in new parents can also be attributed to infertility, as the rate dropped by 3% in 2022, reaching a historic low

Whether they choose to have kids later or not participate in parenthood altogether, they still feel pressured by society to become parents.  According to a 2022 poll, 37% of American respondents believed that women feel pressured to have children. Meanwhile, 17% of them said that men do. 

Sociologist Kent Bausman told Bored Panda, “One of the reasons why people in their thirties feel societal pressure to have children is the long-lasting cross-cultural value societies continue to place on family. Child-rearing has long been accepted as one of those cultural rituals marking adulthood. This is a deeply entrenched value that is directly and indirectly passed down through generations.”

He adds, “Throughout American history, parenthood has come to represent a symbolic marker of adulthood and social maturity. That is, having children confers some degree of social status on the individual, rightly or wrongly deserved.”

He and his wife were also childless in their thirties, as they had focused on their careers, earned post-secondary degrees, and were employed in prestigious occupations (professor and therapist). “People frequently assumed we had children or asked rather directly, “Why not?” It always felt a bit rude. Eventually, we did have a child—me in my early 40s and my wife in her early 30s,” he shares.

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“I can speak to this more anecdotally than sociologically, but the pressure we experienced to have children was very subtle and indirect. I can say that by the time we were in our late 30s, we started to question our decisions,” Bausman says. “It was awkward not being able to share the same experiences as adults our age who were parents.”

Image credits: Daria Obymaha / pexels (not the actual photo)

“Perhaps the best way to cope with pressure is to know yourself and to have a solid understanding of why you have chosen your particular life pathway”

Having experienced such pressures himself, Bausman tries not to do that around child-free couples. “We have a handful of friends now in their late 40s and early 50s who remained childless, and I try to check myself when talking about parenthood issues.

I want to ensure that they don’t feel the marginalization that many childless couples feel. My wife and I were married for ten years before we had our daughter, and people couldn’t comprehend why we would be married so long and not have children. There were activities that co-workers could naturally navigate to because of shared parental status that, at the time, we were isolated from.”

“As this becomes more common, it’s important to be aware of the intrusive nature of questions about having children outside of the couple,” he recommends.  “We need to recognize that there are a variety of choices about what constitutes a family and being a parent. Becoming a parent was a source of personal fulfillment for me and my wife, but we recognize we had built a good foundation before we ever decided to take that step too.”

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“Perhaps the best way to cope with pressure is to know yourself and to have a solid understanding of why you have chosen your particular life pathway,” says Ellen Walker, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist. Instead of worrying about what other people see as the norm, try to focus on the positives of the situation, she advises. 

For example, having children later puts women in a better position, according to sociologist Philip Cohen. “They have more resources and more education. The things we demand of people to be good parents are easier to supply when you are older.”

“If you don’t wish to talk about your personal life, simply say so. If you choose to speak out about your life choice, do so in an assertive manner,” adds Walker. This means honestly stating your feelings and what you plan to do or not do.

“Keep firmly in mind the fact that we cannot do it all in life,” she reassuringly says. “We must make choices, and with each path taken, there is another that is left behind. We are fortunate to live in a society that truly allows us to choose, whether this is to parent or not, to marry or not, what career to go into, where to live, and how to worship. The more awareness we have of why we are choosing a particular lifestyle, the less we will experience uncertainty in the face of pressure.”

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Image credits: Antoni Shkraba / pexels (not the actual photo)

The author provided more information in the comments

Readers justified her way of dealing with the colleague

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Austeja Zokaite

Austeja Zokaite

Writer, BoredPanda staff

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Hi, glad you swung by! My name is Austėja, and I’m a writer at Bored Panda. With a degree in English philology, I’m interested in all aspects of language. Being fresh out of university, my mission is to master the art of writing and add my unique touch to every personal story and uplifting article we publish. In my time here, I’ve covered some fun topics such as scrungy cats and pareidolia, as well as more serious ones about mental health and relationship hiccups. When I’m not on my laptop, you’ll probably find me devouring pastries, especially croissants, paired with a soothing cup of tea. Sunsets, the sea, and swimming are some of my favorite things.

Read less »
Austeja Zokaite

Austeja Zokaite

Writer, BoredPanda staff

Hi, glad you swung by! My name is Austėja, and I’m a writer at Bored Panda. With a degree in English philology, I’m interested in all aspects of language. Being fresh out of university, my mission is to master the art of writing and add my unique touch to every personal story and uplifting article we publish. In my time here, I’ve covered some fun topics such as scrungy cats and pareidolia, as well as more serious ones about mental health and relationship hiccups. When I’m not on my laptop, you’ll probably find me devouring pastries, especially croissants, paired with a soothing cup of tea. Sunsets, the sea, and swimming are some of my favorite things.

Gabija Saveiskyte

Gabija Saveiskyte

Author, BoredPanda staff

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Hi there! I am a Visual Editor at Bored Panda. My job is to ensure that all the articles are aesthetically pleasing. I get to work with a variety of topics ranging from all the relationship drama to lots and lots of memes and, my personal favorites, funny cute cats. When I am not perfecting the images, you can find me reading with a cup of matcha latte and a cat in my lap, taking photos (of my cat), getting lost in the forest, or simply cuddling with my cat... Did I mention that I love cats?

Read less »

Gabija Saveiskyte

Gabija Saveiskyte

Author, BoredPanda staff

Hi there! I am a Visual Editor at Bored Panda. My job is to ensure that all the articles are aesthetically pleasing. I get to work with a variety of topics ranging from all the relationship drama to lots and lots of memes and, my personal favorites, funny cute cats. When I am not perfecting the images, you can find me reading with a cup of matcha latte and a cat in my lap, taking photos (of my cat), getting lost in the forest, or simply cuddling with my cat... Did I mention that I love cats?

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generally_happy avatar
similarly
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm an old man, but personally, if I were one of the women who comforted that woman and found out later she'd lied, I'd have found it hilarious, but also understandable. I'd have been 100% okay. That guy at her table should be fired. In my opinion, comments like that are sexist, and are a form of sexual harassment. Many people don't realize that sexual harassment isn't just unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate jokes. It also includes creating a hostile and/or demeaning environment on the basis of sex/gender identity. I'll say again: those kind of comments do not belong anywhere, but they are especially inappropriate in a professional work environment.

de-snoekies avatar
Alexandra
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When will people understand that a woman's womb is not public property? No, you don't need to have children in order to boost the nation's birthrate. No, it's not every woman's calling in life to have children. No, it's not selfish not to have children. No, a life without children is not purposeless and useless. Someone's reproductive plans or lack thereof are not your business and that applies to everyone, including family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances.

guessundheit avatar
Guess Undheit
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Asking if someone is pregnant or plans to be should be treated as sexual harassment. It's invasive and unwanted.

Load More Replies...
lil-lauzie-10 avatar
The Doom Song
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A lot of people don't accept "I've never wanted kids" so it's worth telling the lie of "can't have kids" just to shut these people up.

stephyg1980 avatar
Ms.GB
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well if someone can't have kids because they don't want them it's not untrue..."I've tried everything (like talking myself into it), we've been trying for years (to change our minds)!

Load More Replies...
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generally_happy avatar
similarly
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I'm an old man, but personally, if I were one of the women who comforted that woman and found out later she'd lied, I'd have found it hilarious, but also understandable. I'd have been 100% okay. That guy at her table should be fired. In my opinion, comments like that are sexist, and are a form of sexual harassment. Many people don't realize that sexual harassment isn't just unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate jokes. It also includes creating a hostile and/or demeaning environment on the basis of sex/gender identity. I'll say again: those kind of comments do not belong anywhere, but they are especially inappropriate in a professional work environment.

de-snoekies avatar
Alexandra
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

When will people understand that a woman's womb is not public property? No, you don't need to have children in order to boost the nation's birthrate. No, it's not every woman's calling in life to have children. No, it's not selfish not to have children. No, a life without children is not purposeless and useless. Someone's reproductive plans or lack thereof are not your business and that applies to everyone, including family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances.

guessundheit avatar
Guess Undheit
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Asking if someone is pregnant or plans to be should be treated as sexual harassment. It's invasive and unwanted.

Load More Replies...
lil-lauzie-10 avatar
The Doom Song
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

A lot of people don't accept "I've never wanted kids" so it's worth telling the lie of "can't have kids" just to shut these people up.

stephyg1980 avatar
Ms.GB
Community Member
2 days ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

Well if someone can't have kids because they don't want them it's not untrue..."I've tried everything (like talking myself into it), we've been trying for years (to change our minds)!

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
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