Direct and Subtle Pressure to Have Children—How Can a Childfree Wannabe Cope?
Exploring all facets of childfree living.
By Ellen Walker, Ph.D.
The whole topic of childfree living is controversial, and becoming more so all the time. Just this week a woman submitted a comment on my book, Complete Without Kids, saying she thinks it’s ridiculous that a book had to be written on the subject. She is herself childfree and knows others who are as well, and no one she knows has had unpleasant experiences or mixed feelings about their choice.
I’m happy to learn that there are many who have not been made to feel badly about not having had kids, but the reality is that this is not the case for so many others.
Pressure from Family and Friends
I recently heard from a young woman who told me she’d mentioned to her mother and her grandmother that she didn’t plan to have children. The response from the older generation was, “You will have children. You must have children.” She asked for my advice on dealing with this pressure from her family. I suggested that she avoid the topic of kids with her mom and grandmother and also make sure that she has people in her life who are themselves childfree or who are supportive of her choices. Of course, she might also tell her relatives that she appreciates their opinion, but that she does not wish to discuss the matter further.
There’s also pressure from friends. I’ve been told by many young women that they feel left out, as one by one their friends get pregnant and shift into the roles of mommy and daddy. These young childfree women get together with groups of others their age and find themselves alone in the crowd, as the talk moves from diapers to daycare options. They feel that their choice is to either join the group by having a child of their own or find a new group of friends.
As a childfree woman in a city filled with families, I’ve surrounded myself with older women. Their children are grown and they’re focused once again on their careers and hobbies. But this can have its drawbacks as well, because now these same women are beginning to have grandchildren, and this becomes a primary interest and focus on conversation.