Are childless women immature?

Does not having children cause a woman to miss an important stage in becoming a mature adult? Does she remain the perpetual daughter and never learn to put others’ needs before her own?

I have asked these questions of many women. the answers vary. Some admit that yes, the childless woman misses some of the critical lessons that come with motherhood. In fact, a recent New Zealand study maintains that mothers have been proven to be smarter than non-mothers, possibly due to the hormonal changes that come with pregnancy or to the demands of motherhood.

Other childless women claim that that’s ridiculous, that in fact in some mothers are less mature than they are because they have had less time to work on their own development. And many say that childless women learn the same lessons in other ways, perhaps by caring for other children, their own aging parents, a spouse or people they nuture in their jobs. I’ll add taking care of animals to the mix. Of course it’s not the same, but sometimes their needs do outweigh yours.

What do you think? This is the next chapter I’m planning to tackle in my book. I don’t have the answers to my questions, only opinions. I’m sure that no one answer fits all. What have you seen or experienced? Does one need to have kids to fully grow up?

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11 thoughts on “Are childless women immature?

  1. In response to “Does she remain the perpetual daughter and never learn to put others’ needs before her own?”…I guess my intitial reation is: Are women defined by putting others needs before their own? Is that a requirement of us to be considered “real” women? Are we not allowed to put ourselves first? Do we define men in our society in that manner? I don’t think so. I’m 35, childless by marriage but have also come to the decision that I do not want children at this point. I’m intelligent, successful, dedicated and far more mature and responsible that the majority of people I know, with our without children. And of course I know how to take care of other people or put their needs before mine when that is needed. I think it is absolutely rediculous to assume that just having a baby all of a sudden makes you a “more worthy” mature individual. I disagree with that wholeheartedly.

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  2. It doesn’t seem fair that in some ways men get to be perpetual little boys while women are expected to take care of everyone. As for maturity, a lot of people have told me the ones who don’t have children are actually more mature because they made a conscious decision not to breed and because they continue growing as individuals out in the adult world. Thanks for your comments.

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  3. I am outraged at this question. Where is a study on whether or not having children makes men more or less smart? As a childless woman, I never hear my husband asked about “why” he doesn't have children. In fact, he is rarely asked whether or not he is a father. However, even in business situations, I am almost always asked about my status as a mother and almost always isolated from elements of the subsequent conversations that arise. Really, really, really, I don't think talking about the heft of my baby's dirty diaper over lunch would make me smarter than someone else!

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  4. Yes, yes, yes. Women without children are lacking… in basic experience, in putting others first…in sacrificing…in empathizing…they seem less human b/c having and nurturing children is essential to the human/mammalian experience. They are hopelessly one dimensional, victims of their own one dimension. They simply don't know what it's like on the planet of mothers, and think they are having a rich life experience when in fact they are tragically stuck in their own broken record.

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  5. Whew. May 31, 2012 Anonymous, I think you're going to ruffle some feathers with that comment. I suspect you are a mother yourself. “Less human” is a little harsh, don't you think? Is it not possible that women who haven't had their own children gain experience in other ways, taking care of stepchildren or caring for loved ones who are sick, for example?

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  6. Can I rephrase the question? “Are childless people immature?” or even better, “Are people who do have dependents, immature?” To that I say, yes.
    My wife and I are childless because I am sterile. I, however, was the one to really want children. She really didn't care either way, but prefers not having them.
    My mother is in need of more care, these days, so, we live at her house. I believe it is my duty to care for my parents. I didn't always think this, but now I do. My father has been dead for 24 years, therefore I must take care of my mother.
    In our household, I am the only cook, day-to-day caregiver, and driver; I am the only homemaker, gardener, and maintenance contractor. As much as possible I try to meet the needs of my mother, my wife, my job, my family, the house, and myself (not always in that order).
    In order to have a smoothly running household, there are times when your needs are less important than the needs of your animate and inanimate dependents. If you do cannot understand that—whether you are a man or a woman, whether you are with or without child, whether you are with or without dependents—then you are immature.
    It is true that many men have immature behaviours. It is also true that many women have immature behaviours.

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  7. I used to believe that there was no difference between women who have kids and women who don't, but then I had them. Parenthood changes you in ways that childless people simply can't understand or predict – it's like explaining sight to a blind man. In all my years I have not met one parent who didn't believe that having a child was what drew them into full adulthood, whether it happened at 22 or 42. No matter how mature, selfless, and community-oriented you believe you are as a childless woman, it seems that becoming a parent is what most people need to bring those traits to full fruition. I think that's why parents with children can't help but look on childless women as just a bit selfish and immature – they remember what they were like before they had kids. It's a bit like a teenager who thinks they are mature and know it all. It isn't until you grow up that you can look back on your teen years and realize you weren't as mature as you thought you were, though you can't blame yourself for not realizing it at the time. It's the exact same thing with childless women. They just don't know.

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  8. Charlotte, I think you're right. A lot of the childless/childfree women I have talked to over the years insist that this is nonsense, but I don't see how one could not be changed by such a profound experience. Thank you for sharing this.

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