In the last couple of weeks, in a quest to really understand what it’s like to be childless I’ve interviewed almost 20 women. I can’t thank them enough for sharing their stories especially as it was hard for them.
Being childless myself and having quite a few childless friends I thought I had a pretty good idea of what it was like. Turned out I didn’t! Well, to be more accurate, I didn’t really! It’s 11 years since we started the journey to acceptance of not having children and I guess I’d wiped some of the negative emotions from my memory.
What is apparent is that, although we’re all broadly in the same place:
- how we got here varies considerably,
- how it feels to each person is different
- as is how well we’re coping.
Some of the common feelings were;
Being childless is isolating and makes you feel alone
When all your friends are having children and that’s all they talk about, you feel really isolated and often lose touch with them because it’s too painful. Children and “happy” families are all over the media so not being part of that makes you feel like you’ve been left out of life.
One of the reasons I wanted to write this was to let those wonderful women know that they are not alone in feeling how they do, just about everyone feels like that.
It’s hard to find new childless friends
Parents make friends with people they meet through their children – it can be hard to make friends if you don’t do that. Just about everyone mentioned how important it is to find other people who understand.
Being childless is like grieving
At the heart of it, not being able to have children is a bereavement; it’s a loss of the life that you thought you would have and, like any grief it makes people sad and takes time to move on. For some that time is relatively short, for others it’s long and ongoing.
The negative emotions feel like they’ll always be there, and they come and go
For some these can be triggered by specific events (especially meeting pregnant women), family occasions, and for some others it can take them by surprise.
Being childless takes away your confidence
Many spoke of how they had lost confidence and self-esteem and how the whole process changed them as a person. Several found it hard to do things that they used to take for granted.
So if you’re childless and reading this, I hope you realise that, whatever feelings you have, you’re not alone, everyone else feels or has felt the same as you do.
And if you’re not childless, please take a few moments to understand how we feel.
Feeling these emotions is the start of the journey to acceptance and living a “happier” life. This journey can be long and hard, and, in future blogs, I’ll explore strategies people have used.
Thanks again to all those fantastic women who shared their stories with me.
Please leave your comments below and please contact me if I can help you on your journey.