A Safe Place for the Childless Not by Choice

Dear friends,

Lately in the comments, a few people have been sniping at each other. That’s not good. We get enough of that in the rest of the world. As childless people, we face questions, disapproval, accusations, and folks who can’t resist giving you unwanted advice. Right? Let’s not do that here.

Last week we talked about how some of us—maybe all of us—sometimes keep quiet about our childless status because we don’t want to deal with the reactions. We’d rather blend in and let the parent people think we’re just like them. We don’t want them coming at us with why, what’s wrong with you, etc. Most of us don’t know how  to explain or justify our situation because we’re not sure how it happened or what to do about it. We’re still trying to figure it out. There aren’t any easy answers.

Of course, I’m talking about those of us who have not chosen to be childless, who are hurting over their childless status. The childless-by-choice crowd sometimes gets pretty militant about their choice: Never wanted kids, happy about the situation, feel sorry for you breeders who want to waste your bodies, money and time adding to the world’s overpopulation. Get over it, and enjoy your childfree life. But how can you when you feel a gaping emptiness inside?

In an ideal world, we would all accept each other’s choices, but the world is not ideal. We feel left out, guilty, ashamed, angry, and hurt. We need a safe place. Let this be one. If someone asks for advice—and many readers do—chime in, but we need to support each other’s decisions once they’re made. Don’t add to the hurt. And if a certain gentleman wants to leave his childless older wife for a young, fertile woman who will give him a family, ease up on him. We women might resent some of his sexist comments, but we don’t know what it’s like for him. He’s aching for children just like we are. And sir, don’t be knocking older women. Some of us take that personally. 🙂

Let’s try to be kind here. I am grateful for every one of you. Hang in there.

P.S. Easter was brutal for me. All those kids in Easter outfits. All those happy families while I was alone. Luckily I spent so much time playing music at church that I was too tired to care by Sunday afternoon. How was it for you?

14 thoughts on “A Safe Place for the Childless Not by Choice

  1. Sue,

    Easter was hard for me as well. I went to church and seeing the young families was tough. I envy them, I do. But, I have my doubts sometimes. This issue is way harder than I ever imagined. How do I deal with it ? Please chime in.


    • Hi Tony,

      I went to church on Easter as well and saw young, smiling families with their little ones, too. I also saw families with grown children. Most families were happy and had good reason to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection. (Isn’t that what Sunday was really about?) Other families did not smile or beam quite as much because they were living with mentally troubled and drug addicted “boomerang” children. Many parents did not have their grown children with them because the kids are “spiritual but not religious.” It helps to expand our sight to look for a bigger picture when there is such a spotlight on the little ones.

      Cute little kids in tiny shoes with bows in their hair can often grow up with some real big problems. As a friend of the mommy club I have been privy to conversations that include real emotional heartbreak and financial difficulty with children not living up to cultural, religious or even parental expectations.

      When I go to church, I just focus on myself as a child of God. On the hard days, like Mother’s Day, I breathe a sigh of relief that I don’t have a lot complication and drama in my life.

      Hope this helps. When things get tough, don’t forget to pray and lean on Jesus. It took me years of doing this until I was fully healed. He’s there for you, too.


      • Dorothy, thank you for this important reminder of what counts. At church, I was so involved in what I was doing as choir director that I didn’t have time to feel bad about children. It was Facebook that killed me, plus all the friends going off to be with their grown children and grandchildren after church. But you’re right. Easter is supposed to be about Jesus rising from the dead, not Easter egg hunts with cute children. And yes, sometimes those cute kids grow up to have big problems.


      • It’s too bad that Facebook is mostly a place where people celebrate the good times in life and not their private sorrows. We are seeing only a half truth when we gaze into our computer screens. That lady who just posted a smiling grandchild photo is secrectly fuming over the way her son is raising the child. You may not hear it on the Internet, but that grandmother’s friends all know about it. Oy vey!


      • Dorothy,

        Your words are so true. Yes, I too have seen cute sweet little children turn into drug addicted monsters. Your reply really cheered me up. And I needed it. Thank you so very much.


  2. Well said Sue.

    Some people get joy from bringing people down into their pit whether it’s to wallow alongside them or gives them a false sense of superiority. We need to choose to rise above such demeaning practices.


  3. Agree, Sue!
    My Easter was quiet, but I became upset. My older sister posted photos of her Easter celebrations with her partner’s family, my niece and nephews. She called Sunday & told me she was busy preparing food for their family Easter dinner. She told me my 6-year-old nephew said everyone is here except Aunty (me) & granny ( I thought as usual we weren’t invited. Note my mother & I live in separate states from each other & my sister) I was supposed to go for Christmas but was told by my sister they had no room because everyone needs their own bedroom. Aka we weren’t welcome. My brother-in-law has not accepted us ever, but it’s fine for me to stay by myself during school vacation–free babysitting! My sister told me all about their wonderful celebration & after five minutes said gotta go, bye, that was end of the call. I saw the Facebook photos the day after, and I can’t begin to tell you how sad I felt being excluded. I made a decision then to never spend any holidays with them again, to save my being distraught anymore.


  4. I sympathize with Anon above over holiday loneliness. I made a New Year’s resolution to take a break from Facebook after being inundated with posts of the joyful Christmas celebrations of my friends with their children. I know they don’t do it intentionally, but it hurts all the same. My standard answer to “how was your *insert holiday here*? is always the same – nice but very quiet. Often my colleagues’ respond that it’s nice to have a quiet holiday with no commitments as they discuss the busyness of kids and family. I just plaster on a smile and agree. What I wouldn’t give to have a large family with laughter and children.


  5. Easter was nice. At Holy Saturday Mass, I sat with my friend who was welcomed into our Catholic faith. She credits me for the whole thing simply because I invited her to attend Mass with me one Tuesday. My friend has very little support in her life so I feel good to have been an anchor for her. There was a lot of joy for me at that Mass.

    Afterward, I attended a function that my hubby’s organization is in charge of. Usually this was my most dreaded event of the year. He’d drink too much, pick a fight and every Easter Sunday was terrible. He’s two years sober this spring. I enjoyed stopping into the event and finding a happy, healthy husband. We danced and ended the night in good cheer, giving grateful partygoers safe rides home.

    On Easter Sunday we had to sit in folding chairs and found ourselves next to a family friend who is newly and unexpectedly widowed. We watched for her grown children (and little grandchildren) ready to move for them but they never appeared. Sitting next to that sort of disappointment and grief put things into perspective for us.

    When I am sad, I find myself on this site. My sadness today stems from my terrible sister-in-law who was once a close friend. Last year she caused considerable heartache and it altered our relationship with her children, with whom we were very close. Kids rebound and when surrounded by their cousins they no longer miss our presence in their lives. But we miss theirs. It’s a long story with details I’m not willing to post online. But she feels my husband has issues and needs to be “healed.” After a year of silence, an early birthday card for my husband arrived. We felt it was a promising sign from them. But the card was pre-printed to explain that a donation was made for prayers of healing to be said for my husband. A subtle dig that we are being pitied.

    I worked so hard for my marriage and now it’s wonderful – even without children. Why did she have to crap on it and pull her children away as if we were monsters? I miss those kids, I miss being a special aunt and I hate being treated like I’m a lesser person because of my choices. Ignoring this person is awkward and feels unkind but I can’t figure out how to do anything else. The things she said were truly heinous and without contrition from her. I can’t seem to force myself to do fake “chit chatter” with her for family harmony. I simply won’t let her get away with it. I know tomorrow will be better and I have so many good things in my life. But today I’m profoundly sad.


    • Oh Anon S, it’s hard sometimes, isn’t it? I feel for that widow. I spent Easter afternoon alone myself. And I sympathize with you about the sister-in-law. Mine isn’t much better. She recently acquired two-stepgrandchildren and her first biological grandchild is due in June. She has gone berserk with the grandma stuff, and I can’t blame her, but she doesn’t include me in anything. For example, I found out on Facebook that I missed the baby shower this weekend. She could have at least invited me. When we get together, she just shakes her head and thinks I have wasted my life because I don’t have kids and I’m still living up here in Oregon. She didn’t approve of my care of my husband at all. So I get what you’re going through. I’m so glad church gives you comfort and enables you to give comfort to others. Hang on to that.


  6. So sorry to hear of your sorrows.. I had my own weird Easter sadness with my biological sister. It made me wonder if I were sharing in the sorrows of Christ. Yes, he appeared to disciples after his resurrection and they believed. What happened when he appeared to his enemies and they still did not believe? Every time I try to reconcile with my sister, I get the sting of disbelief…


    • I know what you mean, Dorothy. My situation is complicated but the most annoying part is that she is behaving this way because she has devoted herself heavily into the Catholic faith.

      MY Catholic faith inspires me to be kind and loving. To acknowledge my own sins and to forgive others for theirs. HER Catholic faith is all about “right” and “wrong” and words like, “holy”, “saintly”, “pure”, “perfect”, “divine”. She has no tolerance for shades of grey (in general but I’m sure also the movie – haha).

      It’s frustrating for me to go through life thinking that my husband and I are good, Christian people – only to learn that she considers us far less. She said terrible things to us – I can’t imagine how she thinks that God would support her words to us.

      God loves me. God forgives me for all my sins. I walk in his light and do my best. Why isn’t is that good enough for her? Why does she get to judge us and the rest of the family? Oh yeah – because she has children!!! She gets to call all the shots and withdraw them as she wishes. My in-laws (the grandparents of these children) walk on eggshells in order to have access to them.


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