Childless Not By Choice: Starting the Conversation with Childless Women
I have been a certified transformational and professional life coach for almost ten years. Yet, I never cease to be amazed by what I learn from the women I work with. In the span of my career, I have coached over 500 people, but it is with the women who are childless by circumstance whose journeys I personally align with most.
I decided to run a survey of almost 300 women who are childless not by choice, to ask them questions about what it's like for them under the surface. I don’t think society realizes the pressures it puts on women to mother their own children, and the impact it creates for women who feel like they don’t measure up. Plus, as a coach, it’s important for me to uncover new ways to bring fulfillment to the women I work with by understanding more of what they need.
Mothering, and being a nurturer, is about more than birthing children, and it’s time we get clear about what that means for women who cannot have children. I asked. They answered. And I’m sharing some of the results with you.
What is Childless Not by Choice?
To be childless not by choice means that you wanted to become a parent but because of various reasons, it was unable to happen. While this is most commonly associated with women who experience infertility, there are other circumstances that could lead someone not to be able to have children.
Whether because of other medical conditions, financial reasons, not finding a partner before menopause, career paths, and other circumstances, women who did not have children due to circumstances beyond their control are childless not by choice.
Childless by Circumstance vs. Childless by Choice: What’s the Difference?
Not everyone wants to have children. Those who are childless by choice have made the conscious decision to not have children for multiple reasons. It’s a brave thing to stand in your truth and choose not to follow the conventional life of becoming a mother. Women who are childless by circumstance are synonymous with what it means to be childless not by choice. In this situation, women wanted to have children but were not able to do so.
Women Who are Childless Not by Choice are Speaking Out
After starting the conversation with childless women about their experiences, I discovered just how valuable the collective voice could be. So many women without children go through the same emotions, have similar views about the experience, and most felt the same about what resources and support are lacking for accepting childlessness.
Childless women said they feel isolated from friends and family
Those who cannot have children said they feel excluded from friends and family because they do not share that commonality. One woman said, “Although I've come to terms with being childless, I feel left out among my peers…I think it isolates you sometimes because people around you assume they know your circumstance.” Many women said they didn’t feel they were treated the same within family circles.
Women without children feel clinical therapy is lacking resources of support
55% of the women who filled out my survey said they feel as though support for women in their circumstances is lacking. Clinical therapy options are generalized and often don’t have the resources to support someone in their unique situation. They said they wished there were more clinical therapy options specialized for them.
Childless women want people to know their time is just as valuable
Not having children does not mean that someone has more time on their hands or that their time shouldn’t be valued. Unfortunately, childless women say their time is not taken as seriously as someone who has children. “I have often been asked to take care of things for someone who has had to attend to their children. When I said I could not stay late one night I was asked what I had to go home to,” one woman said. This type of stigma is just not fair.
Being childless doesn’t equate to inadequacy
Most women said they experience feelings of worthlessness, or inadequacy from friends, family, and peers. One woman mentioned someone saying they “felt sorry for her” because she wasn’t a mother, as if something about her was wrong for not having children. 49% of women said they sometimes think they’ll never be happy because they can’t have children. It’s just simply not true!
Childless Not by Choice: A New Day is Coming
The only way to create positive change is to address the issue. Now, more than ever, I am empowered not just to speak out, but to pass the mic to more women who are willing to share about what it’s like to live without children.
Women without children are sharing their stories
Storytelling is the oldest form of communication and the way that humans connect to each other deepest. Through sharing stories, we are able to develop an understanding of who we are and the world around us, expanding the way we show up in the world. In sharing the stories of women without children, we get to unify the communication between women in similar situations while also educating others about an experience of life they may know nothing about.
Normalizing childlessness in society
The conversation around what society expects of childless women and how they make women without children feel is important. Childless women need the opportunity to rework their mindset and unlearn all the false ideals that society has told them they need to uphold. Having children may be a tale as old as time, but it’s not the only one. I think it’s time we get responsible for normalizing what that means.
Kelly Oz is a certified transformation coach and certified professional coach with 10+ years of experience mentoring over 500 people to embrace a future that is limitless through deep mindset coaching. Through her innovative, action-based coaching models, Kelly is passionate about working 1:1 with women who are ready to get real about what it means to move forward after life's challenges. Kelly is offering a safe space for women to use their voices, support each other, and transform their lives with exclusive practices for self-improvement.