#WorldChildless Week 2017, Day 6: Let’s Talk Openly About Childlessness

World Childless Week has been created by a British childless woman, Stephanie Phillips as a way to highlight the experience, individually and globally, of women and men who are childless not by choice. Each day of World Childless Week has a theme, and the theme for today, Saturday 16th September 2017 is Today is the most common birthday in the world

Please find out more, share your thoughts, images, experiences and stories of being childless-not-by choices either below in the comments, on the World Childless Week Facebook page (where most of the activity is taking place this first year), on Twitter at @ChildlessWeek (using the #hashtag #WorldChildlessWeek) or at www.WorldChildlessWeek.com

For today’s #WorldChildlessWeek theme, based around the fact that this date, 16th September, is the most common birth date in the world, I’d like to share with you a podcast interview that I just recorded with the fabulous Jessica Murnane on her One Part Podcast. This is her weekly show where she has conversations with “some of the most interesting and inspiring minds in wellness, music, food, fashion, and design”. I’m very proud to be included in that category.

Talking Openly about Childlessness with Jessica Murnane

Just as today is the most common birth date in the world, childlessness (and being childfree) are massively on the rise – up to 1 in 3 already in some countries and hovering around 1 in 4 to 1 in 6 in most developed nations (see Tuesday’s post on the numbers here). Although the data isn’t in yet for those born in the 1970s (we’ll have to wait until those born in 1979 turn 45 in 2024 for that), my sense is that it’s going to keep rising. And yet, despite how common our experience is becoming, so many of us experience it as something that is just happening ‘to us’ and find it very hard to talk about openly. (See my story in Monday’s post From Isolation to Connection).


So it was a huge pleasure to be interviewed by Jessica Murnane for her show ONE PART PODCAST. In it, we discuss, amongst MANY other things:

  • My story of how I came to be a childless woman, and how I didn’t know I was grieving for a very long time (but how learning that was the beginning of my healing);
  • My list of 50 Ways Not to be a Mother and how much more complex the route to childlessness usually is that the simple ‘didn’t want’ or ‘couldn’t have’. Jessica was particularly blown away by me sharing the data that 80% of women without children are childless by circumstance, with the most common circumstance being not having a partner;
  • How I started Gateway Women and how it’s grown from one blog to a global friendship and support network with 100+ meetups across the world and a ‘social reach’ of 2-million;
  • The ideology of pronatalism and how, fuelled by consumerism and a backlash against the advances in gender equality it’s created a damaging and unrealistic fetishization of motherhood;
  • The very important distinction between ‘childless’ and ‘childfree’ as terminology;
  • The taboo of ambivalence, and my recommendation of the work of Ann Davidman and Denise Carlini and their book, ‘Motherhood, Is it for Me?‘;
  • What to say and how to handle those, ‘Why don’t you have kids?’ questions;
  • How to meet other childless women – via the Gateway Women meetup groups around the world; at the upcoming NotMom Summit in Cleveland, Ohio 6/7th October; via the Gateway Women private online community etc;
  • And LOADS more!

Jessica told me that she received more questions from her listeners for me before the show than for any other person she’s interviewed (and I’m interviewee number 83…) Her audience is most millennials, which shows how much this issue is affecting younger women too and how desperate they are for some straightforward conversation around it. I know that if I could have heard this interview in my twenties it most probably would have had a massive impact on me. Perhaps you could share it with some younger women in your life as a way to make #WorldChildlessWeek the beginning of making being open about childlessness as acceptable as talking about birthdays.

This is one of the most in-depth and wide-ranging interviews I’ve ever done and I really enjoyed it too. We have a lot of fun on the interview and break open a whole HEAP of taboos! You can listen to the interview here and find links to subscribe to her podcast. Jessica’s a great interviewer so I really recommend checking out the other episodes of her podcast. And her cookery book ‘One Part Plant’ isn’t bad either!



3 Comments on #WorldChildless Week 2017, Day 6: Let’s Talk Openly About Childlessness

  1. Around where I live the majority are mothers. I could always understand how important the children were to mothers and I would try to be helpful to them, but now that I am in my 50’s, the majority of women are grandmothers and I understand that they are the next closest to the children but it seems like they are “defined” by their grandchildren. They always have to spend all their free time with their grandchildren. They need to mention their grandchildren in every conversation, and their personalities and everything! The only thing they say about themselves is “I’m a grandmother and I love it!!! So damn boring!

    • Hi Nadine – yes, it’s something I’ve heard a lot, that grandmother-mania can be just as tiresome as mother-mania! Indeed, very dull for us (and probably quite dull for other grandmothers too!) Hugs, Jody x

    • I hear that. It is about grandmother mania I think after mother mania. But I know after you get past that nonsense with a group of women there are several things that they are interested in. I think it is like men talking about sports to get some common ground within a group of men. My husband doesn’t like sports at all…therefore he does not have that bond with other men. When you look deeper there are things about mothers and grandmothers other than their offspring that make them come alive. I am 40 and I realize now that all those moms are now waiting for their children to give them grandchildren. I think that the bonus of being a grandparent is that they get to send them packing after a long weekend of babysitting so they can get on with their own lives and hobbies. There will always be one-up types that will constantly rub the fact that you don’t have children or grandchildren…but that is just their own insecurity really.

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