Monday, 7 January 2008

F = Family

“Do they have a family?” is generally the first question my mother will ask about someone. She means, “do they have children?”

As if that makes them more interesting.

More worthy.


  1. Hmm, an interesting follow-up to your previous post.

    I know fertility used to be the measure of a woman's worth, but I had hoped those days were long gone.

  2. There is sometimes a measure of "well, at least they didn't have children" when people divorce or die, which I guess means at least fewer people are in massive pain. I understand that, of course, but it doesn't lessen the individual pain...

    Which isn't exactly what you were saying, but it's what leapt to my mind.

  3. It is always assumed there is a dark story behind why someone doesn't have kids. and if there isn't a dark story forthcoming, like with my friend Gretchen, it's assumed to be selfishness or psychological immaturity.

    I think personally, I'm very aware of myself when I talk about being a mother with women who are not mothers (whether by choice, circumstance, or desire unfulfilled--even the nuns I'm friends with). I don't want it to define me, and I don't want the childlessness to define them. It's like a white person trying to be race sensitive for the first time, though, tripping over my words and stopping myself.

  4. H: Well to be fair my mother is 76! But yesterday in the office, the talk was constantly about babies. And try being a woman without children in election year. Noone seems to want your vote!

    IB: Yes. It's that feeling that we're more expendable.

    B: Don't get me started on the "selfishness" assumption about why people don't have children vis-a-vis those who do!! LOL!

    But I like your analogy about being race sensitive. It's all about attitude and openness really. I love being involved in the lives of children of friends and family. It's when I'm looked down on because I don't have my own that I get irate!

  5. Over the holidays I visited with a couple who have one adopted child—an international adoption (said child is now 26). We were discussing bits of this issue, and my friend said that without question, having children is a selfish act. (I, childless, was saying it was both selfless and selfish; she, having decided she had to have one, came down totally on the side of selfish.)

    B: I like what you said about not wanting either status to define one...


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