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Societal pressures on women aged 40+ and childless

by Out and About Mag.

IN TODAY’S SOCIETY, WOMEN WHO ARE 40+ AND CHILDLESS ARE OFTEN LOOKED DOWN ON THE STIGMAS ASSOCIATED WITH THE LACK OF CHILDREN ARE MANY.

 

I recently heard a friend say,

“People tell me ‘You are not Janet Jackson nor Halle Berry.’ Hearing this made me numb and as if my chances were really short and I should’ve started years ago.”

As if there isn’t enough pressure questioning or suggesting about:

  • Getting into a relationship
  • Adoption
  • The purpose of womanhood being to reproduce
  • Having a fertility check

And so on ...

A woman’s world is not transparent for the outside society to see and sympathise. And when others view you through their expectations, it does a lot to shatter the confidence we have inside. In this article, let’s explore the realities of societal pressure and life choices.

THE ‘WHY’ - REASONS FOR BEING CHILDLESS AT THE AGE OF 40:

  • Some women don’t have partners.
  • Some cannot be pregnant due to medical conditions.
  • Many do not want to be pregnant without getting married.
  • Some do not want to have children, period.
  • A few may have experienced trauma and are struggling with its outcomes.

IF WE WERE IN YOUR SHOES ...

Whenever we encounter women in this situation, take a minute to pause and reflect on how you would feel if you were in her shoes. Following are a few questions that you should never ask a childless woman over the age of 40:

  1. “Do you like children?”

It sounds like a question from a first date or a dating app chat mate. Of course, they do like children! They simply have a personal circumstance why they don’t have one of their own. And what if they replied ‘no’? Should they be ridiculed or humiliated? Don’t they have a choice in this matter? Just like the rest of us, they do. And it is time society owns up to respecting people for their choices.

  1. “Has fostering or adopting a child ever crossed

your mind?” Adopting a child is always an option. However, have you thought that this question can offend someone who wants to have a biological child? The difference is just a few words for you, but could be a drop in honour for the woman.

  1. “Why are you childless at this age?”

“‘You’re still young’ - they say I always feel confused by all of this because I don’t know what I am anymore. Am I still young or am I too old?”

The words of KC, aged 40

  1. “Is there something wrong with you?” Nobody would ever like to answer that question! Would you? If you are struggling with the issues of having a child at the right time, this piece of guidance can open your mind:

“Being childless in your 40’s is not a punishment nor depiction of your woman. It just means that my Creator is orchestrating the perfect moment for my family to begin. During this time, I’m encouraged to put the love I have stored up into practice to those that cross my path.”

The words of QR, aged 41

  1. “Are you struggling with fertility?”

This is none of anyone’s concern or business. Childless women might also be in pain and have a reason for not having a child – perhaps personal or medical.

THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE PEARLS OF WISDOM FOR THE CHILDLESS WOMAN

So what if you’re 40 and childless? Your life is a celebration! There is no reason not to enjoy the years! Not being a mother over 40 doesn’t determine happiness nor does it define you. You’re significant alone. You’re a woman of value. All those thoughts and assumptions are absolutely wrong! So instead of filling your days desperately seeking validation that it’s okay to be childless over 40 or weeping over your status, why don’t you consider the unlimited opportunities and advantages awaiting women like you?

After all, growth and self-indulgence can be at your fingertips - anytime you want it! You can do anything your heart desires, travel where you want to go, invest in ventures you are passionate about and grow in the manner you want to.

Are you convinced yet? Here are more reasons to celebrate being childless over 40:

1) Real self-discovery

Childless women can easily afford chances to find out the good, the bad, the unique and the weird (and so on) about themselves. They can uncover all those things, laid bare, before their eyes and get to know their strengths and weaknesses. Being childless is about discovering the person and reasons you are that person. And you have all the opportunities and time in the world to iron out any creases. Who knows? This new person who is super sure of herself and her abilities might have a chance at a new relationship. Getting to know who you are can really help before you enter a new relationship.

2) Unseen opportunities

Have you thought of the sacrifices a mother has to make? Her mind is constantly overrun with worries about running a family, taking care of all its members, the finances, juggling jobs and a home life and throwing in drama from extended relatives. There is a lot of stressors that she has and you don’t. This could be a blessing in disguise. You can use your energy positively by volunteering in the community, or if you enjoy being around children, can try tutoring or babysitting them.

3) Growing in confidence and learning to love yourself

Being childless over 40, you can further develop the talents and skills which you might not have given much attention to before. Plus, you can learn new ways of doing things and adapting to any change. Share your skills and make new friends. Growing old alone can raise doubts about dependency and health struggles. But remember, there are many in the world who have chosen this same path. Talk to them, find networks that host childless women, talk to employers who are pro-women and communities that support the growth of individuality.

“I am 44, married with no children by choice. I adore other people’s children (including my now two adult stepsons) and have many god-children, but I never thought of having my own. I love my work, I finally got to have my own business when I was 41 and it is takes almost all of my time. I love the fact that I have freedom (at least in theory) about decisions in my life and that I am almost only responsible for myself (and four cats). (Husband does not count as responsibility). Sometimes it has crossed my mind will I regret this decision when I am old, but I don’t think that is a good reason to change a life I enjoy as it is! I have also seen many friends have children with the wrong men and their life not really turning better afterwards. And if someone asks me what is the best thing I have done for our planet, I can cheekily answer that I have decided not to populate it with more people!”

- Katia, aged 44

Childlessness is a chance to love yourself more. In time, you realise that you have so much power in you that all you need to rely on is ultimately “you.” Also, you cannot purely love anyone who would enter your life if you were shaken by regret and lack of self-confidence. You have to live by and love yourself first, no matter what your future decisions may be. Besides, having a child does not guarantee happiness because happiness is a choice. It’s in your hands, not in someone else’s pocket. Never underestimate your value as a woman just because you’re childless.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It is a shame that society views mothering a child to be the best part of a woman’s life. But you cannot change the world - all you can change is yourself and how you view it. So instead of weeping, feeling discontent and taking the societal pressures on for being childless at 40+, embrace your life! Use your time to grow and develop and not be caged by the expectations of others. Remember that every woman is unique and so are you and your situation. The golden words to engrave in your mind are –you have you and that’s all you will ever need.

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