Masala Magazine Thailand

Home » Community Members Spill The Chai on the Unconventional Choice of a Child-Free or Single-Child Nuclear Family and Why It’s Ideal for Them

Community Members Spill The Chai on the Unconventional Choice of a Child-Free or Single-Child Nuclear Family and Why It’s Ideal for Them

by Nikki Kumar

Less is More: Exploring the smaller nuclear family unit and the roadblocks along the way.


The current idea of a perfect nuclear family within the Thai-Desi community seems to consist of two parents and two kids. Have one child to take your partnership to the next level, or to experience what parenthood feels like. Have the second child for the first child – give them the gift of each other. If you get lucky and have both a boy and a girl, you have won the lottery and get to experience being parents to children of both sexes. Congratulations! 

Yet, we are seeing the rise of an even smaller Thai-Indian nuclear family, where partners are opting to stay child-free or making the conscious decision to have only one child. Masala speaks to members of the community about the more unconventional idea of a nuclear family without children, or with only one child, and why it is ideal for them.


What are the benefits of having just one child?

In this day and age, there are a lot more considerations when it comes to parenting. Does it make sense to have a second child, financially, emotionally, logistically, and physically? We are two working parents of a toddler. He is our world, and all our attention goes to him. If he has a sibling, our attention will be cut in half, and we will have to reassess certain liberties we can take with having only child.  

What kind of social pressures have you faced because of your decision?

It is difficult to escape aunties and uncles that question us about our family planning. It is inevitable that they will make comments at every gathering asking when we will give our son a sibling. 

How do you deal with these ‘persuasions’ from society?

Luckily, my husband is quite direct, so when he says that we are not planning for another one, people believe him. If they quietly believe that we don’t know what we are talking about and we will unavoidably change our minds, we don’t correct them. We know what many of them are thinking, but as long as they don’t voice it, it doesn’t bother us. 


 What are the benefits of having your nuclear family consist of just your husband and you?  

 I do not think there is a benefit, so to speak, of just being husband and wife in comparison to a couple with children. However, the whole experience of family and relationships is deeply personal. For me, I worry that maybe I would be unable to fulfill my current responsibilities after having a baby, and perhaps that would affect my parenting as well. I also feel that if my husband and I have children, our relationship as parents would disorientate our relationship as partners. Having said that, I love kids and admire everyone who is raising their own. 

Have you faced any push back from society because of both your decision? 

Initially, being married at twenty-nine, many insisted I do not delay having children as biologically it is “getting late.” Now, after only three years, some have suggested fertility treatments. I find it difficult to explain, especially to older generations, that it is my choice to wait to have children until I feel confident to take up the responsibility. Sometimes I do feel guilty, depriving my in-laws and my parents of the joy of grandchildren. Most of my friends have children, and that occasionally displaces me because often I cannot relate to their experiences. Often these interactions make me debate my choice. 

How do you deal with this pressure from society?

I know very well that my child would be my responsibility, and even between my husband and me, I would carry more of the weight. This makes me sure that the only person who decides is me. When it was first suggested that I plan a family, I would reply in an affirmative manner. Nowadays I am more vocal of my thoughts because, firstly, I feel responsible to make people aware that there can be a choice, and secondly, I want my family to understand my feelings so they can better support me.


In your opinion, what are the benefits of a couple choosing not to have children? 

As they say, “Marriage is a tricky beast!” When two people get married, they have to navigate a journey of likes, dislikes, past trauma, individual evolution, and more together. They do this tough, important work while steering through work pressures, personal issues and extended family expectations. When you add children in to the mix of all of this, it becomes even trickier. Our own ideas on how to raise children, impacted by our own respective experiences, comes into play. 

Partners have less time for each other, the focus of the marriage is no longer building and sustaining a connection between husband and wife, but rather keeping the tiny human alive and well. I suppose the benefits would be that by simply keeping a nuclear family as a husband and wife, you have way more space to navigate the trials of marriage, and focus on building a happy and healthy relationship. You have the opportunity and privledge to focus on building this for yourself as an individual too.

 Following your decision, what kind of social pressures have you faced?  

The social pressures I faced when I was married were many. People, whether it be your immediate family or extended family, constantly ask about why you do not have children. You have to constantly explain your very personal choices and defend yourself. You are viewed as selfish. I have been told so many different things, such as, “Who will look after you when you’re old?” or “You will never know true love until you have a child!” or even, “It is your duty to grow our family.” It’s really unfair. I didn’t want to discuss how I was having challenges navigating my relationship and didn’t want to add in a child to the mix, which would inevitably make things more challenging. I didn’t want to explain my financial situation and how that would be impacted. I didn’t want to have to defend wanting to keep my life as it is, so I can enjoy the freedom of living life without having to consider another human being completely before myself. 

In general, it also felt that the ‘success scale’ in a marriage and in life was having a child. It felt like society in general felt that if I did not have a child, I was going against the natural progression of what should happen to be happy. 

I absolutely love being ‘Aunty Rifi’ to many of my friend’s children. I am a natural care giver and love giving love. Society often views this as me going against my nature. We don’t realise that we can love and care for people in different ways. This doesn’t mean that I have to be a mother to do this. 

 How did you enforce boundaries with all the pressure around you?   

 With my immediate family, I would have open and honest conversations about why I didn’t feel the need to have a child. Sometimes, I would have to put in a boundary and end the conversation. With extended family, I exercised patience and listened to what they had to say. As I didn’t want to explain my personal life and defend myself, I would use a general phrase, which I actually do believe in: “It’s all in God’s hands, if it’s written for me, it will happen.”

 I also had to remind myself when talking to family or friends who were trying to convince me to have children, that their hearts and intentions are pure. I had to remind myself that in their perception, they want me to be happy, and for them this equates to being a mother. I had to remind myself that they didn’t understand my happiness, as they were placing their experience and their life onto me, and that this is human nature. 

 With society’s general perception that having a child equates to happiness, I had to accept that I may not fit into this picture, but that didn’t mean that I was not successful or happy. I remind myself of what success and happiness means to me, and focus on that. If I’m not able to get into that mindset, having good friends and my sister to vent to helps a lot! 

 I know my life is full. I am content with the love I give and receive to my nieces, nephews, friends’ children, and my students (all of who have been my kids at one point in time). I focus on how I’m able to impact their lives. I don’t need a child of my own to love a child, or have the love of a child. 


  • “Having one child is not ideal, but having at least one is a necessity.”
  • “Many take the plunge because of two coinciding factors: a fear of feeling hypothetical regret (which some members can attest to), heightened by increasing age.”
  • “It’s true what they say. Motherhood is the best teacher, and you do fall in love with your child.”
  • “We are so conditioned to think that when we are ready for family planning, it’s zero or two kids – there is no in between and no beyond. We are so trained to think that having one child is punishing the child, and that it’s better to not have any at all. Yet, we don’t realise that we also harass those that decide not to have any children.”
  • “A few people are forced to have only one child because of a biological necessity, or according to medical advice. Not all, but a few. Can we not grant all women this grace, just in case they are going through something devastating or have to give up on their own wishes to expand their family, so that they don’t have to expose this knowledge to the world?”
  • “I just got my life back with my toddler becoming more independent. Is it a sin to want to resume many of the aspects of myself I put on hold for the past few years? I am also a human who wants to breathe new life into my friendships, work on my hobbies, and possibly even look for some part-time work. It would be easier to voice this openly if people didn’t make you feel so guilty for putting yourself first over a hypothetical situation of siblinghood for your child.”
  • “It’s important to remember that anyone who makes the decision of having no children or having one child may still debate this decision internally. They can still doubt their choice, revisit it, and question it. As a third person, questioning a couple constantly can sometimes swåay them a certain way that is not right for them, or cause guilt for something that they know is right for them.”


An uncompromising part of being part of the Thai-Indian community is facing deeply personal questions during casual conversation – in any stage of life. All too often, we have very little control over any of it, so the best we can do is put ourselves out there, put the work in to achieve our goals and dreams, and hope for the best. When we do this, our desires do not diminish and they continue to be valid and deserving; your questions simply highlight what we don’t have, and force us to defend ourselves. Our desires, whatever they may be, whether it is to have one child or no children or ten children, are deserving of your support, even if you don’t agree with them. And if you don’t agree with them, in the nicest way possible, our desires are also deserving of your silence.

Related Articles