Our preconceptions of what a family 'should' look like can contribute to our difficulty making the decision to have children. Our society is much more inclusive of different family compositions today as opposed to 10 years ago and TV programmes like 'Modern Families' are mainstream and popular.
Yet, change comes slowly and there is still stigma faced by those that don't conform with conventional norms. Some clients who come to me are struggling with a desire to have children with the desire to have a child in a traditional two parent family. But you might not be in a position to have a child in your 'ideal' family situation. You may be single or you might have a partner who definitely doesn't want children. Or you or your partner might want children but might feel that you need to have a child that is yours biologically. This can set up a tension within us which can feel impossible to resolve.
I love collecting first person stories of people who are creating families in a different ways. This story recently published in the New York Times Modern Love: Four Castaways Make a Family came from a woman who always knew she wanted to adopt and whose choice didn't resonate with most of her friends.
As far as I knew, I was capable of getting pregnant. I just didn’t want to. There were half a million children in foster care in need of an adoptive parent. And I wanted children, so this made perfect sense to me.
It didn’t make perfect sense to my friends.
“Aren’t you afraid?” they asked.'
If your worries about having a children in an unconventional context is contributing to your struggle to decide whether to have children or not, things you can do to help include:
- Looking for examples in magazines, newspaper and online of different types of families.
- Talk to people who are single parents, adoptive or foster parents.
- Write down all your fears and worries about having a child in a non-conventional family setting. Put it away for a week and then re-look at it. Do those fears still feel so powerful? If there are still fears that feel powerful, do some writing on how you could address or deal with those fears.