Ayushmann Khurrana’s upcoming movie Badhaai Ho revolves around an elderly mother becoming pregnant and how the family deals with it.
The trailer of Badhaai Ho, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Sanya Malhotra and Neena Gupta in lead roles, is out. With explicit captions at the end of every scene, the trailer unequivocally mocks the tradition of congratulating a couple on having a baby (“badhaai ho!”) because this time, it is an elderly mother (played by Neena Gupta) who gets pregnant. Through the laughs, the trailer shows how the news of the mother’s pregnancy invites social gaze while making friends and family members, including the couple’s young son (played by Ayushmann Khuranna) extremely uncomfortable.
An older couple’s pregnancy is not considered “good news”
Needless to mention, our society is conditioned in a way where couples, after marriage, are encouraged or sometimes, even coerced to have a baby. “Good news kab doge? (When will you give us the good news of the pregnancy?)” is what couples often hear from relatives. And when the same couple announces a baby at a later stage in life, all one receives in return is flak or as a neighbour in the movie calls the elderly father (played by Gajraj Rao) out, saying “Shakal se toh bade shareef lagte they (You looked like you were a decent man)”.
In such situations, society doesn’t spare celebrities either, whom they ideally worship. A case in point could be the time when Shah Rukh Khan announced the birth of his surrogate son AbRam. Several rumours surrounding AbRam’s birth started doing the rounds, prompting an official statement by the actor, “It seems unfortunate that I have to explain/clarify so many aspects for our newborn baby. Wish it were just a simple message of happiness on behalf of the family.”
Why couples plan to revisit parenthood later in life
Whether or not a couple is planning a baby and at what stage in life rattles people’s minds, leading to speculation and gossip. A couple’s decision about having a baby late in life, even if they are parents already, shouldn’t exactly be a matter of concern to others. And even if it is, what they should actually do is empathise with the couple and understand the circumstances under which they are having a baby.
So, what are the factors that influence a couple’s decision to become parents again, late in life? When Express Parenting got in touch with family counsellor Dr Nisha Khanna, she said, “When older couples plan a baby long after their elder child or children, it is usually because they suffer from loneliness. The couple’s elder children may have now become busy in their own adult lives and they feel that having a baby would keep them occupied, especially the mother. I have personally come across couples who planned a baby 14-15 years after their first child. In such cases, a baby helps in filling up the void that older parents may experience once their elder child or children grow up.”
A couple’s socio-economic status also plays a role in their decision to have a baby. Needless to mention, having a baby comes with its own set of responsibilities, whereby parents need to have the resources to provide for the child’s education and well-being in general. “If the couple feels the need for having another baby later in life and have the means to raise him or her, without being dependent on their elder child or children, then it’s no big deal,” said Dr Khanna.
Again, over the years, couple may begin to endure ruptures in their marital relationship, which they hope to repair by having a baby. “Some couples believe that having a child will bring the partners closer and smoothen their relationship, as they will be more involved both in the pregnancy and later while raising the child,” explained Dr Khanna.
Making the adult child a part of the decision to have a baby
A couple may have their own reasons to have a baby at a more advanced age, but there’s no denying the impact it will have on their adult offspring, if there’s one. The elder child, who is mature enough to understand what pregnancy is all about, might feel uneasy about having to welcome a sibling after a certain age. In Badhaai Ho, for instance, Ayushmann’s character, who is the adult child in this case, says, “Yeh bhi koi mummy papa ke karne ki cheez hai kya? (Is this something that parents should be doing?)”, referring to the idea of his parents getting intimate.
“Often, parents who decide to have a baby after a long gap, forget to consider whether their elder children are mentally prepared to welcome a sibling at that stage in life. The elder child may feel like he or she is being neglected by the parents,” expressed Dr Khanna.
In certain cases, some children do not have a problem with their parents having another baby even after they have grown up. Dr Khanna referred to a couple, both above 50 years of age, who married late and had a baby after their elder children, from earlier marriages, settled abroad. Fortunately, the couple received enough support from their children.
“If the elder child realises the need for the parents to have a baby, be it for coping with loneliness or for strengthening their personal relationship, he or she may support the decision. But if they don’t, it is important for parents to discuss the situation with their elder adult child. I once dealt with a child who felt awkward about how his friends in school would react to the news of him having a sibling. Parents should consult with their children and ensure they are mentally ready to accept a new child in the house. Otherwise, such tensions can trigger sibling rivalry too,” she advised.