Editor’s notes: As I passed my 4 year anniversary writing and researching topics for GenPink, I’ve sought out and received unsolicited guest posts. And although I do review every entry I receive, I do not opt to publish all of the submitted posts. The following guest post was such an interesting topic, with a diverse perspective, I decided I wanted to share, if for no other reason than to spark a discussion. If you’d like to contribute a guest post, or a series to GenPink… fill out this form and I’ll get back with you.
This guest post was written by Allie Gamble (her bio appears at the end of the post):
In our society, and in most societies around the world, it is pretty much expected that young women want to form partnerships with young men, and that children will be the result of those unions. Early on girls are given dolls to play with, and they are taught to play “house” and “dress up.” As they get a bit older, they play with Barbie dolls, pretending all sorts of scenarios, most of which include Barbie having a boyfriend, going on dates, getting married and eventually ending up with a baby. It doesn’t take a psychology degree to see that nurturing is simply expected of girls and is ingrained in them all through their growing up years. While raising children does not have to be a woman’s only option, those who chose to focus on their careers instead of “mommying” often face several psychological challenges.
These days there are a variety of reasons why a woman might choose to remain single and childless. Perhaps she likes her freedom and does not want to be obligated to or responsible to anyone other than herself. Similarly, these days many women are taking advantage of their early 20’s and 30’s to focus on their careers. In fact, given the current trends it’s not unusual for young women to out-earn their male counterparts. Or woman’s decision not have children could be based on the fact that she simply doesn’t care for children. Whatever the reason, it is a choice for her to make.
However, when women reach their later twenties, they are often made very aware of their “biological clock” and its incessant ticking away of their childbearing years. Not only that, but women also experience social pressure to have kids. Marrying or forming some sort of domestic partnership, and then having children are considered the norm in our society. This ideology is oftentimes magnified by peers, friends, co-workers and parents who have taken this path and attempt to convince other women that is necessary for them to have kids in order to be considered healthy and happy.
As such, when a woman does not seek this lifestyle for herself, she is viewed as somehow abnormal. People look at her and may wonder why she isn’t in a relationship or isn’t having children. Seldom does it occur to onlookers that a woman might choose to remain independent as well as childfree. The reality is people are more apt to look at her with sympathy, and say to themselves “poor girl can’t seem to catch a man,” than to see her as valuing the advantages she sees in her choice.
Thus, if you are one of the women who choose to remain single or choose not to have children, you may wonder does my lifestyle choice really mean I’m not “normal”? What is “normal” anyway? Or you may wonder if you will regret your choice in the future. In both cases it is important to remember that you are the only one that can answer these questions for yourself. Your friends, whom you see marrying and having babies, your co-workers off on maternity leave and your parents who want grandchildren cannot choose for you.
It’s up to you to understand the pros and cons of your choice and then to choose the lifestyle you want for yourself. There are challenges in whatever lifestyle you choose, whether they are the psychological challenges of not mommying or the challenges of parenthood. Facing any challenge requires strength and courage. Remember it takes just as much strength and courage to be a parent as it does to choose not to be one.