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, Thursday 14th September 2017 is Words that Hurt.
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 find out more at www.WorldChildlessWeek.com
For today’s theme on ‘Words that Hurt’ I wanted to share with you the TEDx talk I gave at TEDxHull in March 2017 The Lost Tribe of Childless Women in which I explore the classic ‘bingos’ that we’ve all heard, such as:
- You can always just adopt…
- Well, I guess if you’d really wanted children you would have tried harder…
- But I read this article…
- You’re so lucky you don’t have kids! You get to sleep in, and travel!
- Oh, kids are more trouble than they’re worth – have one of mine!
And I share what we’re REALLY thinking when people say them to us, well-meaning as they often are…
I also explore the classic, hurtful and reductive stereotypes that are applied to us, such as:
- Career Woman
- Crazy Cat Lady
I gave this talk as a way to introduce my tribe, the tribe of childless women to the world. Please feel free to share it on your social media platforms as a way to educated those dear friends and family who care about us and want to say the right thing, but often get it wrong! Here the link to share it: https://youtu.be/uufXWTHT60Y
I had bad luck as far as having children of my own, because my first husband didn’t want any, and I had a fertility issue. I tried for nearly a decade to conceive naturally, but it didn’t happen. I adopted a child at birth to put a band aid on the pain. Love child as my own. I was 32 years old when I adopted her. My first husband and I divorced when child was almost four. I met a wonderful husband and great father for the child. I was turning 40, and he had vasectomy. I am 44 years old now and am going through menopause. I have been a mother to the child who is almost 12 years old now, but realizing that having one of my own isn’t in the cards for me. People say that I don’t need to dwell on that and be grateful I get to be a mother through adoption. I know and have been telling myself this, but it is easier said than done.
Hi S – I hear you that adoption isn’t the ‘answer’ to childlessness, even though that’s the first thing that is suggested to us! It’s not even a possible option for many of us… I’m so glad that you and your adopted daughter have a great relationship. However, grief is grief, and it will stay with us until we’re done grieving. And the grief of not being a biological mother is not ‘fixed’ by adoption, just as having another child does not ‘fix’ the death of losing a child through bereavement. Our emotions are more complex than that… I’m glad you’re here and I’d really encourage you to read my book and particularly Chapter 4 which is about the grief of childlessness and which may help. You might also find the work of Pauline Boss on ‘Ambiguous Loss’ helpful. I facilitated a workshop for adoptive parents in the UK in 2017 on ‘Hidden Losses: Childlessness after Adoption’ and I found her work very helpful in creating the workshop materials and the participants got a lot out of it too. Hugs, Jody x
Thanks for your reply. I had locked away my feelings on this issue for years and thought I had come to terms with no biological children—until I started having symptoms of menopause(hot flashes,night sweats,etc). I didn’t think it would bother me this badly until now. I found out from my doctor confirming that I am going through menopause. So,the immense grief and sorrow resurfaced. I had to be put on Prozac for the depression. My mother found this website for me. I have handled the death of grandparents, one parent, and a divorce and rebounded. This, I can’t seem to shake. It’s going to take time now that I’m dealing with it. My first husband didn’t care about any of my feelings about children or anything else. That marriage ended in infidelity by him, and I kicked him out. God is good all the time, and I rely on my faith in Him to eventually heal my heart on this issue as He has on other losses I have experienced.
Something I have found hurtful is getting asked if I am seeing anyone and once I was about 22 and got groped at a bus stop by an old perv who asked me was I married and I said no I wasn’t and got asked why not and I had responded that it was because I was choosy and wouldn’t be picking old pervs like him so he backed off and I reported the incident to the police who were very sympathetic and said no I wasn’t overreacting as someone else might not be so lucky!
Its bloody rude though to ask someone why or why not are they married and that line of conversation can be very hurtful if someone is sensitive about those topics.
Another incident was the work Christmas party that I had left early as I was bloody fed up after a conversation about dating and patronising advice about online dating from someone who hadn’t a clue what they were talking about as they had been with their guy since they were 17 and were 32 when this happened and in front of the pub I had shouted well good for you you stupid fat cow and a fight had broken out! I was only making conversation I got told and I turned round and told her well it was a pathetic attempt and to mind her own f ing business in future! One male colleague had said you shouldn’t let people like that upset you and how smug cometh before a fall and how he was 40 before he got married and is now 53 with a 13 year old daughter. I made up having diarrhea as an excuse to leave early and did.
Turns out the guy was right as a few weeks later the woman and her family ended up evicted by bailiffs as they had been given notice on their rental house but only wanted to stay in the 1 area no looking at other ones so they brought that on themselves really but where there’s no sense there’s no feeling!
Often with these conversations that upset us the people who do these things often have no clue that these topics can really hurt or they can start them maliciously just to upset you to feel good about themselves.
I got the last laugh anyway as I will be getting married in 2018 and have a lovely rental and hope to buy soon as I’m not a stupid fat cow only happy when I’m making others miserable!