Tuesday, July 13, 2010
So I was watching The Wendy Williams Show last night, and one of her guests was a woman who wrote a blog dedicated to women who choose not to have children. While the discussion mainly touched on parents' rights vs. the rights of those who are childless, one thing she said struck me. The guest said she gets hate mail because of her decision not to have children - and most of it comes from WOMEN.
I thought that was fascinating, but at the same time, it seemed to make sense.
If a man says he doesn't want to have children, no one really a blinks an eye at that. After all, it's believed that the paternal instinct is not as strong as the maternal one. While this may not be true in all men, no one thinks twice about men who decide they don't want children. George Clooney has said he doesn't want children, and that doesn't stop him from getting a date.
Okay, so George Clooney isn't the average dude...but you get my point.
However, if a woman says she has no desire to birth any babies, something must be wrong with her right? Women are supposed to be maternal and nurturing by nature, so if she has no desire to have children, then something must be off. And it's usually women who believe this. While a man may be surprised that a woman doesn't want children, he may not necessarily think something is wrong with her. But I've heard women say things like "She's selfish" or "She must have had a bad childhood" in order to justify their judgment of the childless woman.
Here are a few myths I've heard regarding women who don't want children:
1. She's a lesbian. This has to be one of the most absurd things I've ever heard. But I've heard it. Just because a woman is attracted to other women doesn't mean her maternal instinct isn't there. There are plenty of women who are lesbians who long to be mothers, so to think that a woman must be a lesbian if she doesn't have any children is ridiculous. Two women (and two men) who are in partnerships can be parents, and heterosexual men and women can decide that being a parent isn't something they want to do with their life. It's a lifelong job, and if you don't want to do it, then you have every right not to want to take on that responsibility.
2. She's selfish. Yes, being a parent is a selfless thing. You usually have to put the well being of someone else before yourself. It's one of the hardest jobs in the world - if not THE hardest job. I get that. Which is why if you KNOW you aren't up for the challenge or the job, you shouldn't take it on. It's not necessarily being selfish, but being realistic and honest about what you want from your life. If you'd rather sleep in late every weekend, or take spontaneous vacations that don't require you finding a sitter or taking the kids with you, then that's your right and your choice. There is nothing wrong with being a little selfish if being childless makes you enjoy your life more and make you happy.
3. I've heard (along the same lines of being selfish) people say, "What if your parents had felt they way you feel...you wouldn't be here." Again, this is foolishness. We are not obligated to do what our parents did, or make the same decisions. Yes - life is a gift, but it's a gift from God. He chose your parents as vessels to bring forth life, but if a person is meant to be here, they'll be here because it's Divine order. Your parents may have wanted to be parents...or maybe not. The decision was theirs and children don't ask to be here. But if you know you DON'T want to be a parent, then the child you don't have won't know the difference.
4. She must have had a bad childhood/been molested. There are some women out there who don't want to have children because they are afraid they won't be able to give the child a better upbringing than she had. Or she may be afraid that she won't be a good parent because of psychological damage she's suffered from some sort of trauma. While this is sad, and sometimes true, that doesn't mean ALL women who don't want children have gone through some tragic experience growing up. Each case/situation is different, and women shouldn't assume that women who don't want to have kids have some deep dark, hidden reason for not wanting them.
5. She CAN'T have children. I've actually had men and women ask me if I was able to have children once they found out I didn't have any. Not only is that a personal question, it's a ridiculous assumption to make. While there are women out there who want them but can't have them, there are plenty of women who have nothing physically wrong with them...but just have no desire to carry a child and birth one. It's as simple as that. I've heard women say, "Maybe she's had too many abortions and can't have any now." That has to be one of the most ignorant and troublesome statements I've heard regarding women who don't have children - but you'd be surprised the things people come up with.
6. She doesn't like children. I know plenty of women who chose not to be parents, but who lead full lives with the children around them. They are wonderful aunties and Godmothers...and they can give the kids back after they're done playing with them. It's totally possible to love children while not wanting to raise any yourself.
No matter what society may tell us, it's totally possible to have a wonderful, complete life WITHOUT children. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to share you life with any biological children, but serve as a role model, mentor and/or Godparent to children of friends and family. Forget what anyone else thinks...and until they're ready to raise your child for you and pay for its daycare and college tuition, everyone else can keep their opinions to themselves and mind their own business.