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The Decision to Have (or Not Have) Children

At the Middle-Class Women’s Workshop last February, a woman suggested counseling for a year about not having children, then for a year about having children, before making any decisions. I decided that I would do this.

Since February I’ve been counseling about the decision to not have children. I’ve dedicated roughly half of my session time (usually the second half of each session) plus some mini-sessions to it. Some of the distresses and topics that seem connected include the following:

• What it means to be a “true” woman, and my “worth” as a female

• My “legacy” and carrying on my family line

• What I will “do” with my life if I don’t have children

• Focusing on myself first

• Parents’ oppression and getting overwhelmed

• Fear of passing on distress to my children and acting oppressive toward them

• How well equipped I am (or am not) to have children

• Capitalism and the pressures of the economic system

• Global issues, such as climate change, economics, and global population

• Lots of grief and disappointment

• The possibility of adoption

• Not meeting my frozen needs* by having children

• The birth process (wanting to experience it)

• My partnership and whether I want to continue it (or fear that my partner may not want to continue it if I decide not to have children)

• Pressure from friends, family, and myself, and competition for who will have children first

• Urgency to make the decision quickly

• Remembering that I’m in charge and have the final say

I’ve been amazed at how counseling about this has freed up some attention. I now feel more relaxed about the decision. I’m also less attached to a particular outcome. (For example, I could see myself not having children and still having a rich, full life.)

In the coming year I plan to counsel on how I would like to set up my life to get lots of support if I do decide to have children and how I could maximize the time I spend with them.

I’m interested to hear what other young adults think and about any work people have done in this area.

Anne Koplinka-Loehr

Brattleboro, Vermont, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion
list for leaders of young adults

* Frozen need is a term used in RC for a hurt that results when a rational need is not met in childhood. The hurt compels the person to keep trying to fill the need in the present, but the frozen need cannot be filled; it can only be discharged.

Last modified: 2019-05-02 14:41:35+00