On Being Circumstantially Childless by A. Pearson

On Being Circumstantially Childless by A. Pearson

I never cared if I had children or not. What perturbs me about being childless (or childfree) is how women such as myself are treated as, or assumed to be, selfish, losers, failures, etc. This is also true of churches and Christians.

I’ve read of never married, childless women talk of walking into churches and treated rudely because they do not have children. I’ve had similar experiences in churches. Being childless isn’t bad… what’s bad is how people tend to treat you like a freak once they find out.

Men, by the way, very seldom get the same harassment over being childless as women do – not the same amount and not the same kind. Men seldom get hounded or pestered over if they have kids, or why do they not have them or don’t want any, etc.

(Link): On Being Circumstantially Childless by A. Pearson


  • They expected to have babies but found themselves at the end of their natural fertility without having done so. Perhaps it was due to prioritising work, study or travel. Maybe it was due to not having met someone they wanted to have children with.
  • Whatever the case, the impact of “unintended” or “circumstantial” childlessness on women’s lives needs to be more widely acknowledged, University of Canterbury researcher Dr Lois Tonkin says.

    “They are in the unusual position of being neither voluntarily childless nor involuntarily childless …  an unexpected consequence of other choices,” she says.


    Tonkin, who has a background in counselling, has written a thesis on the subject for a PhD in sociology, examining the experiences of 26 New Zealand women in their 30s and 40s who expected to have children but found themselves at the end of their natural fertility without having done so.

    “Circumstantially childless women very often grieve for the loss of the opportunity to become a mother and for some this grief is likened to the death of someone close,” she says.

    “My study participants often said they felt misunderstood, judged, unacknowledged, ignored and isolated by others around them. Many talked about feeling like a failure.”

  • Kate*, in her late 40s, who “desperately” wanted children but simply did not “meet the right man” in time, says the question, “How many children do you have?” often comes up when meeting new people.

  • “There is nothing like the good old conversation killer, ‘I unfortunately do not have any’. All of a sudden you are looked at like a creature from another planet. It is like they have doubts about you as a nice person,” she says.
  • …. Tonkin says circumstantially childless women’s grieving is often triggered by times (Christmas and Mother’s Day are “particularly difficult”), people, things and places that symbolise motherhood
  • …Tonkin says the number of circumstantially childless women who have left it too late to have children is rising “markedly” in many western nations.”It seems to be tied in with changing trends in women’s lives and expectations in terms of work, education and late partnering … and perhaps too because it is becoming more socially acceptable for women to choose not to have children than it has been in the past,” she says.

    In New Zealand, Census data shows childlessness in women aged 40 has increased from less than one per cent of women born in 1936 to almost 10 per cent of women born in 1965.

    “Data indicates that this figure will rise to 25 per cent for those born in 1975,” Tonkin says. for them.

  • …Rachel Brown, 44, who “always assumed” she would have kids, has only just resolved a series of “really interesting questions” that her own childlessness unearthed, such as: “What do I do without the purpose of children and the milestones they bring? How do I get meaning?”
  • ———————-

Related posts

(Link):  Otherhood – An overlooked demographic – the Childless and Childfree Women and Singles Especially Women Who Had Hoped to Marry and Have Kids But Never Met Mr. Right (links)

(Link):  Baby Making Fixation at Christianity Today Magazine Online – Shaming Women For Not Procreating, or For Delaying Motherhood, or For Limiting the Number of Children

(Link):  Childless and happy: The new tribe of women?

(Link): Why all the articles about being Child Free? On Being Childfree or Childless – as a Conservative / Right Wing / Christian

(Link):  Check your ‘cat-lady’ preconceptions about childless women

(Link):  Mother Entitlement – Selfish, Self-Centered Mothers Complain that They Are Not Getting ENOUGH Mother Worship from Culture, Church, or Family on Mother’s Day and Some Moms Complain About Churches Showing Compassion to Childless Women

(Link):  The Isolating Power of Family-Centered Language (How churches exclude singles and the childless) by E A Dause

(Link):  Is The Church Failing Childless Women? by Diane Paddison

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