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 mailto:beth@ticktockcoaching.co.uk and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit http://www.ticktockcoaching.co.uk/ for more information about my coaching services.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Selfish vs Selfless: Reframing the Way We Talk about Motherhood & Not Having Children

One of the curious and frustrating ways that the choice to have children or not is contextualised is through the lens of selfishness/selflessness.  I've had clients in tears because they have been told my unthinking friends or acquaintances that if they were to not have children, they would be selfish.

This few is often confirmed by society and leaders.  A few years ago, the Pope made a speech where he described people who didn't have children as a symptom of our selfish society saying:

“A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society... The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.”

Yet, there are many people who do not have children who live their values of service and generosity.  Ironically, many of those serving the Catholic Church do not have children, having made a choice to serve God and their community instead.   Clients who do not have children often have more time and energy to put into their community, volunteering or helping elderly neighbours. 

 And for women considering motherhood, the image of the motherhood as sacrifice can be off-putting and burdensome.   Karen Rinaldi, in her opinion piece in the New York Times called Motherhood isn't sacrifice but selfish  aimed to debunk the myth of motherhood as a sacrifice.

'Motherhood is not a sacrifice, but a privilege — one that many of us choose selfishly. At its most atavistic, procreating ensures that our genes survive into the next generation. You could call this selfishness as biological imperative. On a personal level, when we bring into the world a being that is of us, someone we will protect and love and for whom we will do everything we can to help thrive and flourish, it begets the question, How is this selfless? Selflessness implies that we have no skin in the game. In motherhood, we’re all in.'

In many ways, it is helpful to embrace the notion of the choice to mother as being a selfish act.  I talk to many clients who feel critical of choosing to have children 'just' on their desire to have a child.  'But, it's selfish... how can I bring a child into the world when it's selfish.'    I always say that no one ... not even people who adopt or foster ... ever makes the decision to have a child for purely altruistic reasons.   I'm always saying to my clients 'It's ok to want to have a child because you desire it!'

Personally, I'd rather we not use terms selfish or selfless to describe our choices.  They are really loaded terms that imply judgements.   When we talk about wanting to be in a relationship or friendship, do we talk about our choice to have a partner or not as being a selfish choice .... or a selfless choice?  No.  We say we really desire a relationship or we want more friends.  Let's  find new ways to describe our choices of having or not having children -using more positive terms with less judgement.

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