Women Without Children
Barrington H. Brennen, May 26, 2015
Barrington H. Brennen
Recently a few women talked with me about a serious
concern they had. The common factor among these women
was that they all had no children. Their concern was
that their friends, co-workers, and sometimes family
members would say unkind things to them or made their
own ridiculous conclusions why they did not have
children. A few months would not pass without someone
saying to them something like this: “You need to have a
child so you can be happier.” These women said that it
is very difficult to convince everyone that they are
happy and do not want children.
Why do so many of us conclude something negative when
people do not have children? It seems by default that a
woman without children is incomplete, as a man without
children is queer. What absurdity! Mothers who’ve had
miscarriages or still births also experience similar
responses from their family members or friends. I
actually heard someone remarked to a mother who recently
lost a baby through miscarriage these words: “You must
something wrong to cause this to happen to you.” Here’s
another: “Child, my mother never had a miscarriage.”
This is to suggest that her family’s wombs are of better
One preacher said the gift of tongues is sometimes in
silence. If we do not have anything positive to say
during times of pain or loss, say nothing. Keep you big
mouth shut. Why are so many humans so insensitive and
judgmental? The tongue is the most dangerous weapon on
earth. It cuts, stabs, and destroys individuals,
families, and nations. In sacred scripture there are
power statements about this. James 3:8 says, “But no
human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil,
full of deadly poison.” In Psalm 52:2 (NIV) we read,
“You who practice deceit, your tongue plots destruction;
it is like a sharpened razor.” Here are two texts
demonstrating how good the tongue can be if used
wisely. Proverbs 12:8: “There is one whose rash words
are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise
brings healing;” and Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly
spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
Let us use the tongue to bless and not to curse; to heal
and not to wound. Many may have to go to their
relatives or friends and apologize for being so cold,
mean and judgmental. Many may just need to start
accepting their childless relatives unconditionally.
While preparing this article, I came across a Huffington
Post essay published May 25, 2015, entitled “7 Appeals
To Moms From Women Without Children.” I found it
intriguing and reflecting my own thoughts. As a result,
I will share the high points of the article with you.
The essay is the result of writer Hélène Tragos
Stelian’s interview with women who reach midlife without
children. Here are the seven points she discovered from
Don't ask me why -- or assume you
This is important. Note it says
“don’t ask ‘why?’” Stelian wrote:
“Women don't have children for a
myriad of reasons, and they're
really none of our business. If and
when they choose to talk about their
journeys, they will do so, on their
own terms. The "Why?" question is
particularly insensitive for women
who wanted children but, whether for
medical or other reasons, could not
have them.” Some women have spent
decades and thousands of dollars
trying to have a baby. Making
remarks or asking questions can
often be insensitive and wrong.
Don't pity me.
some women, the lack of children is
a real wound that never completely
heals. Still, by midlife, the women
I interviewed who had longed for
children had come to terms with
their situation. And the last thing
they want is pity. On the contrary,
they want us to know that they live
happy and productive lives and that
we can talk about our kids with
Don't judge me.
The writer shares: “Children
are not for everyone. Yes, there are
women who don't yearn to carry or
mother a child. All they ask is that
we respect their personal choice,
just as they accept ours.” I have
actually interviewed teenagers who
do not want to have children, and
they are serious about it. Let us
respect that choice and not
insinuate that they are doing an
injustice to the world or themselves
by choosing not to have children
Don't assume I don't like kids.
Wow! This is a great one. Why do
we think if someone does not want to
have children of her own that she
does not like children? This is
often far from the truth.
Hélène Tragos Stelian said that “most
of the women I interviewed very much
enjoy spending time with other
people's children. They are special
aunties to their siblings' kids.
They spend time with their partner's
children from a former relationship.
They volunteer with children's
Don't exclude me.
Too often we do not know how to
relate to women without children, so
we leave them out of the family
party or other event.
Sometimes we think that since they
do not have children, being around
children would not be good for
them. This is a mistake. Include
Don't call me childless.
This one I thought is so important.
The author shared that while
many of the interviewees did not
want to get caught up in the
terminology, the majority agreed . .
. “that the word childless implies
something is lacking." It's a
negative. For the women who chose
not to have children, this is
particularly offensive. As to
better wording, some liked "child
free" while others felt it was too
forced, trying too hard to be
Don't be rude.
As I mentioned earlier, far too many
can really be rude to mothers
without children. The author
gathered a list of statements not to
say to women without children.
These statements are downright
"You don't really understand what it
means to be a woman until you've had
should have had children. You're so
great with them."
"Having kids was the best thing I
will take care of you when you're
"Didn't you want to have children?"
"Don't you like children?"
bet you regret not having children."
could have adopted. Why didn't you?"
"Oh, so you chose a career over
If you used any of these statements go
now and bring healing to your family and
relationships. Ask for forgiveness.
Say "I am sorry for being so mean with
If you are a women who has been wounded
by the tongue of others look in the
mirror each day and say "I am happy just
Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP BCCP, is
a marriage and family therapist and
board certified clinical
psychotherapist, USA. Send your
questions or comments to
write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The
Bahamas, or visit
www.soencouragement.org or call
242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.