Is life without children an unfulfilled life

"Women who do not want to have children are often questioned"

Women who willfully remain childless are considered “incomplete” and selfish, according to some of the common prejudices. Regula Simon calls them OK women. A conversation about the unfulfilled desire to have children and its consequences.

Ms. Simon, you call women without children OK women. O for “without”, K for “child”, but also that it is okay to live without children. Are you an OK woman too?

Yes, because to a certain extent it is a personal story that I myself remained childless. I found the right partner too late plus he didn't want any children. Today I say it's a good thing. I think I'm too fun-loving to put aside my motherhood needs.

How great do you experience the suffering of childless women?

In our society, parents are seen as better people simply because of their parenting. Voluntarily childless couples are selfish, Pope Francis once said. If a woman does not want to have children, she is questioned or even attacked, portrayed as an egoist who does not think about the future of society. Perhaps that helps a little to understand the hardship of childless women.

About the person: Regula Simon

Regula Simon is a coach and systemic consultant. She accompanies people in processes of personal development. Simon is the author of “Remaining Childless? Also OK »and brings together women affected by childlessness on the kinderfreilos.ch website.

So we are constantly reminded that having children is a must to be happy.

Yes. Society is set up in such a way that families are considered worthy of protection and are given preference. Most women assume that at some point they will want to have a family. If they are denied this wish, they feel very deficient. They slide into an identity crisis, after all they expected to become a mother and that doesn't happen.

The WHO recognizes involuntary childlessness as a disease. Do childless women feel sick?

I think it cements exactly that image. These women are referred to as physically ill and subsequently also develop mentally ill. Another problem that still arises today is that society is under the impression that reproductive medicine solves this problem. Many involuntarily childless couples therefore hear: "If you really want to have children, let us help you." But the path via reproductive medicine costs a lot of time, money, sometimes health and psychological sacrifices as well as loss of the quality of relationships and only leads to success in a third of all cases.

Do you think that it is easier for men to come to terms with childlessness?

Sometimes the man is even more affected because he may have had a stronger desire to have children than the woman. But in general I observe that men have less difficulty, or maybe they can move on more quickly. On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that menstruation reminds the woman of her theoretical childbearing ability every month and the pain is there again. Another point is the woman's environment: when she gets together with other women, she is repeatedly confronted with the topic of children. She constantly sees what is wrong with her. Women who are mothers are so preoccupied with raising their children that it is an ongoing issue.

When the subject of children is brought up, I find people's way of dealing with it sometimes overbearing. Why do women often have to explain themselves? I have already been asked three times in an interview whether I want children.

It is believed that every woman wants children because of their gender. But the question about children is not small talk, but a very personal question. At the interview you probably run the risk of not getting the job, but you can answer: "You mustn't ask me that question."

What answer when a woman is asked about it in private?

I think it depends a lot on what you want to reveal about yourself. It sure helps to be honest and wonder what the question does to you. One possible answer would be to draw attention to it: "Phew, that's an intimate question." Depending on how important the person who asks this is to you, you might also say: "We would like to have children, but it didn't work out." The danger is that a lot of tips will follow because everyone thinks they know how to make children.

What helps involuntarily childless couples?

Very simple: signal sympathy and willingness to talk. It helps to have an open ear and if you are informed, know about myths and facts. It is also important to respect the grief and show understanding if contact with friends with small children is sometimes no longer possible for a while. When a couple has managed to say goodbye to having children, it's a giant step that should simply be accepted.

How does an unwanted childless woman manage to say goodbye to her desire to have children?

It depends on my attitude. For me, the key is to take a closer look at the desire to have children. Every desire to have children is different, every couple hopes for something different from being a parent. In the coaching we look into the question: What quality would this child or motherhood have brought into life? What need would the child have fulfilled? There it is important to go deeper in order to understand the need that one experiences too little fulfilled. You can work with this value and support it in its development. I experience with most of them that it will be good.

What do the women say, what needs do these women state?

For example: "I want to belong, to be part of society, to be like everyone else." I also experience women who ask about their right to exist if they do not have a child and raise them. Can I even be there and live?

How do women make it back to a satisfied life?

To break away from this identity that one had hoped for and to search for another identity. If you know what the value is, you can do anything to increase it and help it achieve a breakthrough in everyday life. It starts with very small changes that at first glance have nothing to do with the desire to have children. But these changes make women go their own way. You realize that it is not the way as a mother. They take a different path, which is also theirs. Because woman can also be completely woman without being a mother.

“Unfulfilled desire for children” series: The first part, an interview with a reproductive medicine specialist, appeared on “blue News” on October 30th.

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