Happy Mother's Day
This weekend in particular, I am thinking of all the incredible women without children who provide motherly love to their pets, nieces and nephews, step children or serve as a mentor to any young person. Your contributions and value to those around you is officially recognized...
Having Children as an Insurance Policy?
One of my friends recently admitted to me that he and his wife only had children for the assurance of someone taking care of them when they were older. They had not planned on having any children, however, after experiencing the demands of taking care of his sick parents, decided that they did not want to be in a situation where they would be alone to fend for themselves later in life. Upon hearing this, I instantly recalled how back in the day families bred children to serve as farm hands, which often resulted in families that looked more like baseball teams. There are many reasons why parents choose to have children – continuation of lineage and passing down the family name, wanting to leave a legacy, pure love of children and a strong sense of family, or because society says so, etc. But to justify the birth of a child based upon the “benefit she/he will yield in the future” seems awfully similar to how we justify the purchase of long term insurance policies, stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Is it fair to think of children as benefit producing assets? Just as there are no guarantees with our investment strategy due to unpredictable events largely out of our control, I would argue that there is no certainty that these children will evolve into the loving caretakers that they are hoping and longing for. As many parents can attest, children can often be more of a liability than an asset. I do hope that it works out for my friend and that he and his wife realize incredible capital gains when they go to cash in!
My Partner has Kids – How do I factor into the equation?
When you decide to be in a relationship with someone who already has kids, you are immediately thrust into the game called “What exactly is my role?” The question of who you are to these kids and what meaning they can potentially bring (or not bring) to your life will definitely keep you up many nights. One cannot underestimate the emotional complexity behind this new family dynamic from the children’s perspective, especially when they are still reeling from the fact that their natural parents are no longer together. When these kids are not born of our flesh, do we play the role of mother, “big sister”, auntie or simply “sideline Susie”. When you disagree with any parenting aspects of your partner, should you have a say at all? Even if you approve of how your mate (as well as their mom) is raising these children, how much of your own character, morals and beliefs should you instill in these children when they aren’t our own?
Given my own experience, there is no “one answer” as there are so many variables to consider. Obviously, the age and personalities of the children will help to determine your role – older kids might be more forthcoming with the type of relationship they are seeking of you (and most likely have a fully baked moral compass). Younger kids may be indifferent to you right off the bat or they might take to you right away, clinging like a Bolivian black capped squirrel monkey, seeing all that you have to offer. Some kids will make it known to which box you have been automatically compartmentalized, especially those who feel that they already have a mother, so who needs another! Feeling out these situations will take time and depend upon the emotional maturity of the child. If the children’s natural mother still plays an active role in their lives, you’ll want to be sensitive not to tread on her toes. It will be important to consider what type of a relationship the kids have with their mother - do they seek advice from her, or do they come to you (or your mate) more often for words of wisdom? And when they do, what answers are they looking for?
In the end, your role could be determined not by the relationship you want with the kids, but by need – how much the kids need you in their lives – and only time will tell.
Curious to hear if you agree….
Childfree and the Dating Scene
Should we be made to feel bad if we choose NOT to date men (or women) who already have children? If we decide to date single dads (or moms), does it make us bad people if we limit ourselves to dating only those with grown children? Simply put, the dynamics of a relationship can be quite complex when you factor in children, not to mention ex-wives, all of whom will be vying for the attention and pocketbook of your new companion should the relationship become a long-lasting one.
Let’s face it – our life as we know it, being women without children, can largely be misunderstood by those who have children (men and women alike!). Whether by choice, chance or circumstance, we’ve carved out a life for ourselves and the thought of introducing kids into the mix could be the essential tipping of the apple cart. What if you are no longer able to keep your morning fitness routine because kids need to be chauffeured to school? What if you are now in need of learning how to cook for five when your go-to dinner was often cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine? Longing for those adult friendly vacations with girlfriends over a trip to Disney World? Don’t get me wrong – many women glad fully adjust their lifestyles to accommodate the new family dynamic. But for those of us who have come to accept and like the life we have created for ourselves, we should feel free to restrict our choice of dating men (or women) to those who either have no children, or perhaps older children who are living independent of their parents.
I’m curious to know how many of you have seriously considered dating men (or women) without children, or at best, limiting your dates to only those whose children are older and out of the house.
Leaving Your Legacy as a Woman without Children - What Will it be?
What legacy will you leave behind? How can you pass along to future generations the values, traditions and customs that a woman without children embraces? What are you doing to leave this world a better place?
This week I attended the funeral of my best friend’s 88-year old mother; she married young, has seven children, 14 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren and was a devoted Catholic who was active in church-related charitable groups. She was remembered as a great cook and baked mouth-watering pies and cakes. Even after she was no longer able to drive, she still loved taking Sunday drives, and passed on her memories and local knowledge to her daughters as they drove her around the town where she was born, raised and settled.
Dorothy’s legacy was that she touched the lives of everyone she knew or met, as evidenced by all of the stories. Not only was she the matriarch of 3 generations of family in attendance at the funeral, she was also a good friend to all of them. She not only had a hand in shaping the character of her own children, but was equally invested in instilling into her grandchildren and great grandchildren the same morals and character that she learned as a child from her parents.