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.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Accepting Ambivalence

There isn't much room in public discussion on the decision of having babies for talk about ambivalence.  Many of my clients said that they feel odd or isolated for feeling ambivalent about whether they want children or not.   'But surely I should know, surely everyone knows one way or the other?'  is a common question.  When I tell strangers what I coach women on, I'm sometimes meet with incredulity.   'I can't imagine not knowing one way or the other.!'

Yet, ambivalence around whether we want children and indeed, ambivalence around being a mother is more common than we think and more common than popular culture would suggest.   Merriam Webster gives this definition of ambivalence:

1. simultaneous and contradictory attitudes or feelings (such as attraction and repulsion) toward an object, person, or action

2.a :  continual fluctuation (as between one thing and its opposite)
   b :  uncertainty as to which approach to follow ambivalence about their goals

Ambivalence is the main state my clients find themselves in when they come to me.  They are experiencing contradictory feelings/attitudes towards the idea of having children, feeling like they are continuing fluctuating or switching between wanting and not wanting children, and feeling uncertain about which path to take.

I have long been fascinated about an approach to coaching (and life) called polarity & wholeness.  In this approach, we look at poles which represent opposites.  For example, Order & Chaos, Independence vs Dependence, Vulnerability vs Strength.   On the face of it, it seems as though we have to choose between one or the other and that they are incompatible.   Yet, what has become evident to many - from the Taoists who explored the power of the Yin/Yang symbol to Gestalt therapists is that we need to be able to hold the tension or contradictions of opposites in order to be whole human being.    We need to be independent and able to function independently of others.... and we also need to be able to lean on other, to allow ourselves to be dependent.  Too much independence means that we can find it difficult to be in relationships. Too much dependence means that we find it hard to be on our own.

'Philosophers and psychologists have long stressed the importance of dealing with
paradoxical tensions for growth and learning. In his book “No Boundary”, Wilber (2001)
classified all major traditions in psychotherapy as ways to transcend the dividing lines
that we draw between our self-image and our unaccepted shadow parts, our mind and
our body, and our individual identity and the environment. When these lines are taken as
battle lines, with enemies imagined in the other camp, people become tense and unable to
respond to life’s challenges in an effective way' (from the paper 'Polarties in Executive Coaching by Ursula Glunk and Beth Follini)'

All this leads me to believe in my work with clients that one of the ways forward to making the decision is to - paradoxically - accept that ambivalence is often a part of life.  We can never be totally sure we are making the right decision and we can never completely overcome ambivalence.   As I will explore in my next blog post, even when women have children, many women feel something called 'maternal ambivalence'.


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