Friday, September 30, 2016

From Women Without Children

• Don’t ask me why — or assume you know why

Women don’t have children for a myriad of reasons, and they’re really none of our business. If and when they choose to talk about their journeys, they will do so, on their own terms. The “Why?” question is particularly insensitive for women who wanted children but, whether for medical or other reasons, could not have them.

Carter chose not to have children: “I have never understood why a woman would want to have kids. They are a huge responsibility and would have been too stressful for me — knowing I would have to be ‘on’ 24/7. I hold child rearing to a very high standard and I know I personally could not attain that standard. It takes so much to be a good mom and I would want to be a good mom; no, I know I don’t have it.”

• Don’t pity me

On the contrary, women without children want us to know that they live happy and productive lives and that we can talk about our kids with them.

• Don’t judge me

Children are not for everyone. Yes, there are women who don’t yearn to carry or mother a child. All they ask is that we respect their personal choice, just as they accept ours. Teresa’s journey shows that women can be intolerant of these differences:

“Even as a small child I knew I didn’t want children. I just never felt the maternal instinct or the desire. Luckily, I met and married a man who had the same feelings. We have been happily married for over 30 years, and never regretted our decision to not have children.

In my 20s, people’s reaction when they asked if I had children — and received no as an answer — was ‘You’ll change your mind,’ ‘You have plenty of time,’ ‘Wait till all your friends start having them, you’ll want children then.’

In my 30s and 40s, the reaction to a no answer was increasingly more aggressive and blunt: ‘You’re running out of time,’ ‘your biological clock is ticking,’ ‘you’ll be sorry.’ All kinds of people, from all walks of life, asked whether I had children. This was not a problem; I asked others as well. But when they felt they had the right to make negative comments or ask if my husband or I wasn’t able, that was offensive. I was made to feel like I had to justify myself to complete strangers.

In my 50s through today, at almost 63, I feel some people are more enlightened about my choice and accepting of my decision. Others are a lot more blunt in telling me I have ‘missed out on the greatest thing ever.’ Still others just silently judge me, as if having children makes you a better person somehow.”

• Don’t be rude

The women I interviewed have heard some incredibly insensitive comments and questions. Here is a sampling of what NOT to say to women without children.

“You don’t really understand what it means to be a woman until you’ve had a child.”
“You should have had children. You’re so great with them.”
“Having kids was the best thing I ever did.”
“Who will take care of you when you’re old?”
“Didn’t you want to have children?”
“Don’t you like children?”
“I bet you regret not having children.”
“You could have adopted. Why didn’t you?”
“Oh, so you chose a career over having children.”

As they hit midlife, many women find themselves better able to cope with these rude comments, whether by letting them slide or by calling the person out. Still, that thicker skin or bolder attitude does not obligate them to answer intrusive questions or tolerate obnoxious statements.

extracts; source Appeals To Moms From Women Without Children

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