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The world still frowns at a woman who decides not to have children because she ‘does not want to’. It is hard to understand when a woman chooses to stay childless, especially after marriage. It is almost as if she is insulting her in-laws, even dragging her father’s name in the mud. If she is educated, the insults become even worse. It is important to understand that there is really nothing wrong with these women’s choice; they are just educated, humble and devoted women who believe it is just as much a feminists choice to be a parent as it is not to be one. These women have empowered themselves and refuse to endure a male-centered obstetric history that has taken women’s bodies and molded them to their preferences, their comfort and for their world view.


However, choosing to be or not to be a mother does not make one a feminist or nonfeminist. It is actually wise for feminists to have children so that they can impart the spirit of feminism to the younger generation. It is worth noting, though, that most women are struggling to find balance between their life, parenting and work. This is because the idea of parenting has been confused with mothering. Men refuse to support their partners and even be there for their own children. It is surprising to hear a man proudly say, ‘I’ve changed a great deal. I stopped drinking, I go to church and I pay maintenance for my children’ as if paying the maintenance is a bonus, when in actual fact it’s a responsibility that both parents should keep without fail. Some men can never be caught dead buying diapers or baby clothes and food, simply because that’s a ‘woman’s job’. Was it a woman’s decision to start a family?


We cannot overlook the fact that single parenting has become the order of the day, especially in Eswatini. Is it possible that this could be another misinterpretation of feminism? Raising children is a difficult and rewarding task at the same time. It is a challenge on its own, but the challenge doubles when the task falls on one parent alone. Financial and emotional strains are normally shared in two-parent households. Single mothers must bear the weight of making ends meet on their own. Two-parent families can double the income if both parents work.
Task overload leads to depression in single parent households. Single mothers will work at a full-time job, spend time with kids and do all other required chores by themselves. This also leads to anxiety and depression because the mother will not only have to take care of her needs, but also that of her kids’ and that is a burden if she neglects either. This, however, doesn’t have to happen in households of single parent mothers only. Even in normal households, men feel like they are comfortable in the backyard and in the garage, and women are left with the burden of not just educating, but also punishing the children.


Issues such as child support, joint custody, visitation and decision-making for the child must be negotiated. These issues may lead to disagreements, making the single parent overwhelmed and helpless. It is easy to assume that feminist mothers want nothing to do with the children’s father, it has always been the wrong supposition anyway. But, here we are talking about ‘parenting’, and this word has neither masculinity nor femininity attached to it. In fact, the expectations from single mothers by society have led to the ever increasing fight for perfection in parenting. Therefore, it is important to differentiate between parenting and mothering. The duty of parenting must is for all sexes – woman and man, feminist or not.

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