One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit for more information about my coaching services.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Book Review: Other Than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind by Kamalamani

Other Than Mother: Choosing Childlessness with Life in Mind (Earth Books) is a book about the intentional choice to be childless or child-free.

In a beautiful introductory paragraph, Kamalanani describes what led her to write this book.

'I was looking for a book capturing the spirit of how I might‘give birth’: giving expression to my nurturing and creative instincts, through living, working, relating, and Buddhist practice. Honoring life, without producing an earthling. Being a woman but not choosing to be a mother. Whilst I found a few interesting books on this subject, they were not quite what I was seeking'

What I love about this book is how Kamalanani explores how giving birth can mean many things - in particular giving expression to nuturing and creative instincts.  She challenges the notion  that choosing to be childless intentionally means rejecting life.  Indeed she looks at how the choice to have children is a life affirming choice.  She explains that while she started writing the book as an exploration of a personal journey, it turned into something which  'explored the relevance of the baby-making decision to the current situation we are in as humans living on planet earth.

Her commitment to Buddhism and the environment played a very large part in her decision. As the environmental plight of the world become more acute, this is an issue that does impact on the decision making of many women concerned about the environment ( see my blog post Can I care about the environment and have children? )

Each chapter in the book is focussed on a different theme or aspect on being intentionally childless or childfree and it is very comprehensive.  She includes exercises for readers to do, to help them work through their own journey.

Towards the end of the book Kamalanani makes a powerful statement, saying that:

'It is not compulsory to have children in order to be an accepted,valid, human being and member of society. I will say that again,because it is so rarely said aloud. It is not compulsory to have children in order to be an accepted, valid, human being and member of society. An important dimension in my post-baby-making decision landscape has been raising awareness about this through research, teaching, writing, and in conversation. Right now, I am particularly interested in raising awareness that it is not compulsory for a woman to have a child in order to be an accepted, valid human being and member of society.' 

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

I can barely afford rent so how can I afford to have children? Is the economy a factor in people deciding to have children or not?

I've said on this blog before (see The Financial Cost of Having Children)  that it's rarely just money - or lack of it -  that is the prime reason for people making the decision to have children or not.   When clients come to me,  I always explore with them in the first or second session what their key fears are around having or not having children.  This is crucial to moving forward.  So often when people are feeling stuck around the decision, there are 'unspoken' or hidden fears keeping them stuck.  The very act of voicing and naming these fears to someone else can help people move forward.  But rarely have clients come to me with concerns about lack of money being the main (or most emotionally loaded) fear

But, I am now wondering if this will soon change.  In the UK and other major centers in the West such as NYC and LA,  there is a combination of factors that I believe are contributing towards economic reasons becoming more of a reason people are delaying and also deciding not to have children.   The housing crisis in London (and in other major centers such as NYC)  the cost of buying a property is now out of reach of many people.  It's difficult to find anywhere in the capital city where a flat is on the market for anything below £250,000.  In the article Young Families Priced out of the Rental Markets we can see how difficult it is for people under 30 to rent a property - never mind buy a property.

Freida who I interviewed for my book Baby or Not? was originally from New Zealand.  She explained in her interview that it was the cost of living in London which was one of the key reasons that she delayed having a child in the UK.

'I grew up in Maori culture where I was surrounded by aunties, uncles, cousins and grannies. If I was sick at school, an auntie would pick me up.I could go to my grandparents house after school.In London, I have no family. Jeffs parents live almost two hours outside of the city.Our friends are scattered all over London and few of them have children. We would be very isolated here but in New Zealand we would have lots of family and friends within five minutes reach.When I think about the quality of life we could have there, the big house, more disposable income, the support network it seems crazy to settle for a tiny flat, financial difficulties and feeling isolated.

Its difficult  it's making a choice between possible future risks and the reality of my life at the moment.The question is what is weighing most heavily now on the scales? The scales are tipping in favour of staying in London and not having a child, but in a few years the scales could tip back.Do we continue to enjoy living a life in London unencumbered by the responsibilities of being parents but live with the growing worry that we might be leaving it too late?Or do we go back to New Zealand, where we have support networks and where can actually afford to live, but give up on what we enjoy about our London lives? It's a pretty stark choice.'

In the end, Freida and her partner did decide to have child and did decide to move back to NZ.