Single & Childless

864849092_82eed02415_oYep.  That describes me.  Thirty, single & childless.  No, it’s not what I planned for my life, but it’s how things are now.  I like my life and I’m content.  I have an incredible job, great friends, amazing opportunities and everything I need.

There are endless reasons why people are single and endless reasons why people are childless.  Sometimes it’s by choice, sometimes it’s not.  Don’t judge, you have no idea why people are the way they are.

Just because someone doesn’t have children, doesn’t mean that they are clueless about children.  I don’t live in a bubble where I never interact with them.  I still live in the same society you do, but I get to sleep uninterrupted at night.

I’m not saying you don’t have wonderful insights into your own children (if you’re a parent) and know them better than I do.  Of course you do.  No sane person would dispute that.

As a teacher I have great insights into children and parenting.  I see the results of various parenting styles.  I see exactly how your kids turn out.  Meet the parents of a child and it all makes soooooooo much sense!  Ask any teacher what they think after parent/teacher interviews and it is inevitably:  “So THAT’s why the kid is like that!”

I’m still a human.  I still contribute valuable things to society.  Getting married and having kids is not all there is to life.  They are wonderful, worthy things to do.  They are noble and good choices.  Just don’t judge me as somehow being ‘less’ because I have done neither of those things.

There is a pervading sentiment that unmarried, childless women (and men of course, but usually to a lesser degree) are somehow ‘less’.  We aren’t fully women, or fully grown, or some other condescending, judgemental crap like that.  Thankfully not all people are idiotic enough to think this, but there is certainly a faction of society that believe it.  What’s even more disturbing is that I think there is a significant group of people that believe this, but don’t realise because they have never really articulated it.  It’s something that lies under the surface, a belief never spoken of or acknowledged.  But it comes across.  The constant questions; “So, have you met anyone yet?”.  The underlying assumption is that I won’t be complete until I get a husband, I must be on the hunt!  I don’t think that’s anyone’s (well, most people’s) intention, but the strong focus on these kinds of questions really does suggest that there is some truth to it.

If you think I’m being over the top, take some time out and think about it.  I honestly believe I’m right.  This is not some angry feminist rant, it’s just an observation.  I’m not saying everyone thinks this way, but some definitely do.  It’s a pervading attitude.

When people are newly married, there are always joking questions about having children.  Sometimes joking, but sometimes with real truth behind the joke.  “So, when are you going to start your family?”.  And heaven forbid a married woman chooses not to drink on any occasion, lest she be accused of being pregnant!  The allusion is that until you have children, you haven’t really completed the job yet.  And even if you do have children, people often suggest you could be having more (unless you’re one of those 14 children families). Once again, it’s usually a joke, but it comes from somewhere.  It might just be a passed on stereotype, but it’s still coming from somewhere.

Having an unmarried, childless Prime Minister also really brings out the  public judgement in some.  Particularly in an election year.

There are lots of thinly veiled criticisms of Julia Gillard by Tony Abbott (among many others) that she somehow doesn’t have the credentials to understand areas of society that centre around children; such as education, child care, parenting payments, childcare rebates etc.  Somehow not having children disqualifies her from having an informed opinion and understanding the issues.  What patronising rubbish!

Jennifer Aniston has also copped this.  People feel sorry for her because she’s STILL unmarried and childless.  She’s been so unlucky in love, poor thing.  How patronising!  Don’t feel sorry for her.  She’s gorgeous, successful and seems rather happy to me in general.  Plus, we don’t actually know her, we have no idea.  The assumption that she must be unhappy because she’s ‘unlucky in love’ is what gets me.

Thankfully not all people are this narrow minded.  I think this is less of a problem now than it has ever been, but it is still a persistent issue.  These days, it’s acceptable to be single much longer, but still not forever!  If you’re 50 and unmarried people generally assume there is something wrong with you.  How awful.

Don’t judge.  You don’t know why people are the way they are.

Also, THIS is a great article saying a similar thing, but much more articulately.

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11 Replies to “Single & Childless”

  1. As a married, childless woman, I’ve had six years worth of jokes about morning sickness every time I’m a little bit ill. It’s annoying for sure, but also seems really intrusive. I don’t like other people speculating about what’s going on in my uterus, thanks.

    I find this whole attitude especially confusing coming from Christians – the New Testement is full of people living a purposeful, fulfilled single life. It was even advocated as a way to better love the people around you. But there’s been a weird trend towards “Jesus = FAMILY and FAMILY VALUES”. What even is that?!

  2. It’s no easier for men either. In Christian circles single Christian men are sometimes looked upon as immature if they haven’t “settled down.”

    Two halves don’t make a whole. I’m not banking on my future wife to complete me. It’s not fair or reasonable to put that expectation on any person. I’ve also heard conflicting Christian teachng on this subject. Some of it says that if you’re single, God can complete you. Others say that this is only true to an extent, because God cannot satisfy the human desire for romantic love. They can’t both be right, or can they?

    Some Christian women (and I do mean some) don’t do themselves any favours when they say things like this. I was recently talking to a friend of mine, and he said that he asked a woman out, and she turned him down because “I’m married to Jesus.” Believe it or not, those were her exact words.

  3. Read a great article “Don’t judge child-free alternative” by Shelley Horton in the Sunday Examiner 10/3/13 which came originally from the Sydney Morning Herald. Talked about how women who choose to be childless often feel stigmatised in much the same way they had to deal with the fallout from what was seen as the shame of divorce in decades past. It is as if their choice assumes they are self seeking and uncaring, not willing to make sacrifices for others, as if their womanhood is supposedly in question because they have no desire to pro-create.

    Being single and childless is one thing, but you can double the pressure couples feel when they don’t reproduce in what is regarded a timely fashion. “Being child free and childless are completely different situations,” says Shelley, but the pressure is there nonetheless, as if the autonomy of your life and body is the domain of others to judge according to their own expectations.

    Reminds me of the time many years ago even after I’d had two beautiful boys to be constantly asked “Wouldn’t you love a little girl?” as if my family was somehow incomplete. My answer was always an emphatic “No.”

    Encouraging to see the emergence of groups like the Barren-esses in Melbourne who regularly meet without the pressure of feeling they are being looked down on as second class citizens.

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