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.

Friday, 15 July 2016

My Week: Interview on BBC Radio & Jennifer Aniston hits back

Following on from my last blog post on  women are judged for their life choices around having children or not, I was invited to speak on the BBC radio tees radio show to discuss the issue. (And the next day, Andrea Leadsom resigned - probably not in response to my radio show!)  Prior to my interview, the show featured an older woman who had decided not to have children but she felt that she was often subject to comments and felt sometimes like a second class citizen.  I concurred that judgements are still made towards women who do not have children and that unthinking comments such as those made by Leadsom are still all too common.  Leadsom has said that she did not have any malicious intent and I do believe that this is the case. But many of my clients report that friends and family members still make unthinking comments that are hurtful.  I think that we all need to challenge our own assumptions about mothers and women who are not mothers - that's the only way to start to have better conversations about the choice to have children..... or not.

This week Jennifer Aniston  also spoke out about speculation that she may be pregnant in this article for the Huffington Post For the Record   This is a particularly brilliant quote:

'Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.'

On Sunday, I was reminded of the power of determining our own happily ever after.  I had brunch with a friend who is in her mid 50's.  She never had children and it is a choice she is positive about. She also has good relationships with friends children.  She is aware that not having children has allowed her freedom and ability to do more with her money than she would have if she had children. Unlike the woman interviewed on the radio show, she didn't feel that she was often judged for the choice she made - but she did feel that not having children meant she would face particular challenges as she got older.  This is one of the structural issues that we have to address as a society.  As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog on a post called Aging Without Children, assumptions that older people who go into hospital or care will have adult children to support or advocate for them are prevalent and we need to look at new paradigms which address older people's care and support.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Why are we still judging women on whether they are mothers or not?

This is the headline article in the Times today.  In the piece, Ms Leadsom (one of the two candidates to be the next leader of the Tory party and ultimately, the next Prime Minister) says that she thinks her rival Theresa May must be really sad not to have children.  She goes on to say that Theresa May 'possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people. But I have children who will be directly part of what happens next.'

It's very dispiriting that with all the progress made for women in our society that personal lives and personal decision of women are still used against them in work and in personal life.  It's an issue that is never relevant for discussions of the suitability of male politicians - and it would be laughable if this statement had been made by a male politician.

Women are often judged and regulated by their personal choices in a whole host of areas.  For example in terms of personal appearance do they wear too much makeup? Or not enough makeup?   Judging women is a past-time of the tabloid press and popular magazines - commenting upon women celebrities bodies and life styles with vindictive glee.

Women who are mothers and enter political life often find their commitment to motherhood challenged or questioned.  And if they don't have children, then as has happened just now, their suitability to lead is also questioned!  The implication is that a woman who doesn't have children is slightly suspect - they are not as rounded or able to connect with the public as those with children in public life.    Another implication is that women who don't have children are in some way selfish

Last year, I took part in several radio debates when the Pope made comments saying that people who did not have children were selfish. (see Are people who don't have children selfish? ) My position  is that there are many, many ways for women and men who are not parents to be connected and to have a stake in the communities they live in.  Often people without children have more time to dedicate to volunteering in their communities, they may be also looking after elderly relatives, they may be spending time connecting and sustaining community groups and organisations or they may simply be doing what they love to do in work and in leisure time.
What I think needs to be pointed out time and time again that this debate is another way in which women and women's choices are regulated - in particular the choices we make in our personal lives are used to restrict and regulate us in the workplace.  Sadly, this is something that women can do to other women - when we've challenged our our internalised sexism, we might find a way out of this trap.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Moving forward in uncertain times

'There is now a great need for bridge-building, for reaching out to one another in love, trusting that below the political differences lie a shared humanity and a wish for flourishing communities.' - From Quakers in Britain, Building Bridges after the Referendum

Living in the UK at the moment, the political energy feels very uneven and unstable.  Whether you voted to leave or remain in the European Union, one thing is undeniable: This is a time of great change.  And with change comes fear, anxiety and worry.

I've been trying to write a blog post every week on my Children or Not Blog . My intention is to write posts that resonate with people wondering whether to start a family, who have doubts about their choice to have children OR to not have children, who are feeling unsure whether they want children enough to go it alone as a single parent or go through the stress of IVF.  I know how stressful and anxiety raising it is trying to make this decision. And so far, touch wood - it's been working.

But in this past week, with so much upheaval and anger and uncertainty, I've really floundered to bring my attention and energy back to the topic of this blog.  I found it very hard to focus my attention - I've felt scattered and unable to bring my focus back and be present.

Then last night,  I had dinner with a coach friend of mine.  A wonderful, lovely energetic lively coach working with women in the corporate sector.

She was telling me how the political uncertainty has impacted on her clients and the businesses they work in.   No-one knows what the new reality means for business and people are holding off making business decisions until there is more certainty.  But when will that come? And how can we move forward in uncertain times?

After we spoke, I realised that these are the same issues and questions that are facing everyone out trying to work out whether they want children or not.  Even if we don't see ourselves as very political or that don't take strong opinions or positions, the EU referendum has had a huge impact on the wider system we are living in by bringing us all into an uncertain era

So,  how do you move forward on the decision to have children when faced with a wider system where many things seem uncertain, unstable and unreliable?

1. Find ways to connect with your inner wisdom/centre/Wise Self .  When we breathe and centre we can connect to the 'bigger picture' and we can feel more trust in our ability to move forward.

2. Think about times in your life when you have been challenged or experienced difficult periods in your life.  How did you move past through those times, what did you learn about yourself?  Now imagine that you have stepped forward into the unknown - what are you taking with you from the past? What do you now know about yourself and your ability to deal with the unknown that will help you face whatever the future brings - in a future with kids or without

3.  Have compassion for yourself.  Find ways to be kind and compassionate when you are feeling angry or frustrated at yourself.  And then, find ways to be compassionate to other people - to stay open and in connection with others even when you are feeling like closing off.  This is particularly important if you are in a disagreement with your partner or husband about having children.