As a childfree woman, I have been called selfish more times than I can count. The one thing that truly baffles me though is why? Why am I selfish when mothers WANT to have children. They do not NEED to have them.
Growing up in a pronatalist society, we are conditioned from birth to want to become mothers. Almost from the moment, we are born we are given dolls and told one day we will be a mummy. It is in the fairy tales we read, the toys we play with, the subjects we are taught in school.
Everywhere around us is proof that being a mum is an accepted role. That is the normal and the expected path that as a woman you are supposed to take.
This is often amplified by our family. (I know not every family but most). As a child of the 70’s I was told and educated about future motherhood. I didn’t realise I was actually allowed to have a choice until I was in my early teens where I was subject to new experiences as I entered high school. I never felt the urge to become a mum ever, but finding out that I could make a choice, allowed me to be more vocal about what I wanted.
And herein lies the issue. I think in many households (now and then), mothers are telling daughters that one day they want to be a grandma. After all, many mothers believe it is their right of passage and one of the reasons why they had children. The phrase “when are you going make me a grandma” is typically heard by daughters over and over again, especially as we get into our 30’s.
The issue is one that is driven by tradition. It is driven by the years of conditioning that they have experienced and has been passed down from generation to generation.
That is what is selfish! Truly selfish because it is all about them and not their daughters. They want the kudos with their friends who are already grandparents. They want to share baby snaps and stories about the latest thing their grandchildren have done in a game of one-upmanship in the bowls club. It is all about them and their needs and that is what is truly selfish.
That is not fair and puts undue pressure and expectation on a daughter to fulfill her mother’s dream which might not necessarily match her own. This needs to stop.
Mums, please start to have the right kind of conversations with your daughters of all ages. If they are 7, 17 or 27 it is your role to educate them about choice and doing what is right for them. While you might want them to have children because you might love being a mother, you need to allow your daughter to come to her own conclusions. You lived life your way and your daughter is entitled to the same right.
As a mother I strongly encourage you to remember these points:
- Speak to your daughter and ask her want she wants in her life
- Ask IF you want kids and educate them about the choice to do so
- Tell her you will support her choices and be happy no matter what they are
- Remember it is HER life and HER choice not yours
- Don’t make them feel guilty for choosing to be childfree
- Don’t push your ideals, dreams or regrets onto your daughter.
Do you want it on your conscious if your bully or pressure to have a child when she never actually wanted them and was doing it just for you? Imagine the guilt that comes with that?