My mother-in-law keeps pressuring me to have children

Women are sometimes pressured by their in-laws to produce children. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Cause. Dr Terri Apter, a psychologist, has spent the past 20 years interviewing hundreds of families across the world for her book.
  • She found that while 75 percent of couples reported having problems with an in-law, only 15 percent of mother-in-law/son-in-law relationships were described as tense.
  • Everything you do as a parent matters, and the reality is that your parenting can be a force for good or a force for evil in the world.

My husband and I have been married for three years. Although we would like to start a family sometime soon, I do not feel ready at the moment. However, my mother-in-law has been pestering me to conceive, even if I am not mentally ready. She even uses my husband to put the pressure on. I sometimes feel alone as there is no one to support me in the family. Please help me. Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Becoming a parent is a special moment in one’s life and choosing when to give birth is entirely your choice. However, it is good to set both short-term and long-term goals. Do you want to become a mother after completing your studies or after getting a job? Or do you want to become a mother after a certain age, say at 25 or 30. 

When you get married, different individuals have expectations about your union and this might include your mother in-law who might be looking forward to becoming a grandmother. If you have a clear goal of when you want to start having children, confidently and assertively let your mother-in-law know about these plans. If you have no clear goal, these demands will upset you.

Ideally, since you are now married and are one with your husband, it would be good to discuss this as a couple. Remember you both have different views about when to have children. Accepting this enables you to respect each other’s views and will help you to be on the same page.

Your mother-in-law’s views are her own wishes and this should not make you lose sight of what you want, especially in regards to your husband. You do not need to confront your mother in-law. Instead, your husband should talk to his mother and reassure her about your intentions as a couple and when you are planning to start a family.

The main thing to remember is that parenting is far more than just keeping a child alive. Your child is watching and modelling you the entire time, so it is important that you get as many of your personal inadequacies fixed before you bring children into the world. This is the reason no one should be pestered into having children. It should be done only when one is ready.

Everything you do as a parent matters, and the reality is that your parenting can be a force for good or a force for evil in the world.

It is not about raising your child to be a doctor or an engineer, it is about raising them so that everyone around them benefits from their presence. 

So, as long as you do not feel like having a child, you have to wait.

Kharono Lufafa Evelyn is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation

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