I was interested to read this article Childless in a Houseful of Children in the New York Times from a woman who is actually based here in London.
My childlessness in a family full of offspring would be poignant, tragic even, were it not by choice. I alone among eight siblings have decided not to breed — a choice that baffles and mystifies everyone in a family as fertile as mine.
My Bangladeshi heritage doesn’t help matters. With values more suited to Victorian England, my parents raised me with one overarching objective: to marry well and raise a family. Shirking this responsibility is an aberration in our culture that tends to provoke questions.
I have worked with clients from different cultures including clients from India, Italy and from small town USA, where the concept of choosing not to have children is not understood and often looked down upon. Often people have been brought up with cautionary tales about maiden aunts 'Poor Aunt Mary.... she never had children and lived and died alone.' Unpacking these family stories reveals some new truths.
'I had been brought up to think that my Aunt had a lonely life with her flat in the City and always travelling alone. Now I'm looking at her life and thinking 'Wow, what adventures she had, what an amazing woman!' an interviewee for my book Baby or Not
In coaching, we can begin to re-examine and 'unpack' these old family stories and beliefs that we have inherited. One of the best coaching exercises for this is to look at the topic from different perspectives or mind-sets. When clients do this, they often (like the interviewee above) find themselves challenging old beliefs.
What's is the family belief that you need to challenge?