Childless, not soulless
The other day two of my three children were out at school / nursery and I had a rare moment of luxury to watch something other than Paw Patrol on the TV. Watching This Morning whilst nursing my little baby, a familiar topic came up… childlessness. Two intelligent, accomplished women discussing their “childless” status. For one it had just turned out that way, the other had strongly chosen not to have children and discussed the negative feedback she gets to this stance. She recalled an example where she was told by a date that he finds women that don’t want children “un-feminine”. This reignited the same feelings I had when readying a wonderful post called Mind your own Womb.
An old friend of mine has encountered similar stereotyping and recently addressed her child free status as we were chatting:
Clarification: child free gets a bad press. We don’t hate kids. We don’t hate people who have kids. We just do not want to have kids ourselves. That’s it. Nothing sinister at all.
It makes me sad that a friend felt she needed to clarify this to me, presumably because I myself am a mum of three. Why is it that as a society we judge childless people as being uncaring, selfish, career focussed or just plain weird?
It seems too that women are the worst offenders, what happened to us supporting each other and our right to our own decisions? Why do women in particular feel free to judge like this?
I love my children but I have no preconceptions about women that don’t have or don’t want children of their own. There could be many reasons for a women to not have a child, there might be a physical issue that means that they cannot have children of their own, there may be too much financial pressure, they may not have met the right person, or feel they met them too late, or, shock horror — they might just not want a child of their own. So what?
When my husband and I were trying for a second baby I was constantly questioned by well-meaning friends and colleagues — when would we be having another baby? Don’t leave it too long… It must be time for another by now? Little did they know that every question or comment broke my heart a little bit more as I struggled with my “unexplained infertility” diagnosis from the doctors for 4 years.
The next time you feel like questioning a woman’s child-bearing status, please don’t. It is not your business and it in no way defines her.
And to my friend (you know who you are). I do think you’re wonderfully weird, but not because you don’t have children! Just keep being you — I love you.