Do you think society puts too much pressure on people to be in relationships and/or have children? Do you think this ostracizes people who would be perfectly content to remain single and/or child-free? Is this pressure worse around the holidays?
I suspect that it varies. Speaking as a long-term resident of the Old South, the answer is YES (or if you're Redneck Southern, "Hell Yes!"), society puts way too much pressure on a single person to be coupled up, and for those who are coupled to breed. I know that for many, many years I have dreaded every trip home because eventually I would run into someone who would give me a lecture about 'you need to settle down and meet a man, quit working so hard' or 'quit being so picky.' Or they'd give me the "pity eyes" that let me know, in no uncertain terms, that they had already dismissed me as an "Old Maid" and had decided I was either too damn ugly or mean to ever catch a man and that at least LaNora (my mom) would have someone to come home and 'wait on her' when she got old.
But many of my LJ friends, who live in urban, non-Southern environments, swear to me that if I was in their neighborhood I would be considered the cool, hard-working, professional woman that I always set out to be, and nothing less.
And oddly enough, now that I do have a boyfriend, several people have already begun asking my mother "is T getting a ring for Christmas?" (No, T is not, doesn't expect one and is perfectly happy without one, thank you very much...) So I wonder if it's a regional thing that basically works this way---most people can't be happy unless they've got their noses in other people's business.
And I'm not saying it's entirely Southern. I'm sure small communities everywhere, and perhaps many particular ethnic/socio-economic/religious communities are the same way.
And to address the last point---people who want kids will know it when they want them! And for those who want them and have them and do a good job raising them, God bless them! But NOBODY should be forced/pressured/persuaded to have children. Personally, I think that's the biggest cause of misery in America today, people having kids with the idea that they're like some kind of toy, or pet, or obligation. People who want to be parents are blessed; so are people who don't want to be parents. Everyone has a different path in life and should be free to pursue it.
Me personally, I never wanted kids. But I love being a college professor! I love teaching my 'children' without ever having had the responsibility of dirty diapers, PTA meetings, etc. That wasn't who I was, and I have absolutely no regrets about not 'settling' for 'Mr. Right Now' so I could have conceived a child while I had the chance. I would have been a terrible mother; no one, however well-meaning, can persuade me otherwise. I admire all the moms who do such great jobs, especially the moms on my F-list---but I had a different road to travel.
OK, that was probably a lot more than was called for and I should have been doing something else this entire time......