Are childless leaders more–or less–fit to govern?

Dear readers,

Please excuse today’s mix tape of subjects. I have been running back and forth to California to take care of my dad, dealing with fallen-tree damage at my house, and preparing for my dog to have surgery, along with at least five other tragedies I won’t mention here. This year has been crazy. All this caregiving is helping me understand the distracted single-mindedness of mothers. It’s hard to think about anything else.

  • While American politicians always trot out the wife and kids as if that validates them somehow, many European leaders of late don’t have children. Among them is Emmanuel Macron, just elected as France’s president. As you can read in this article, “Emmanuel Macron and the barren elite of a changing continent,” many other countries are choosing childless leaders. Voters and opponents complain that they can’t possibly govern effectively without having children, but the leaders of Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Scotland, and the head of the European Union are all without children. Is there something about the time and energy required to be government officials that puts parenting low on the priority list? What do you think?
  • Mother’s Day is tough. Going to church can make it tougher. Our new pastor is totally insensitive to the feelings of women who are not mothers. I sat up front at the piano when he had the mothers stand for a blessing last weekend. I swear I felt like I had a giant B for barren emblazoned on my forehead. This Washington Post article, “On Mother’s Day, many women feel overlooked by churches,” takes a look at the way churches make non-moms feel left out or alternatively try to include all women as “mothers,” which doesn’t seem right either. If you go to church, how do they handle it at your church? Do you stay home on Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day)?
  • “New census estimates show that most women age 25-29 are childless” New estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that more than half of women in their 20s have not yet given birth. In 1976, only 30.8 percent were childless at that age.  By age 44, when we can assume that most have passed childbearing age, 14 percent were childless. Many caught up in their 30s or early 40s, but that still leaves a lot of us without children.

Time to walk the gimpy dog. Thank you for being here. I welcome your comments.


13 thoughts on “Are childless leaders more–or less–fit to govern?

  1. Sue,

    I’d say your assessment is on point. I never thought about politicians trotting out their kids when it benefits them to do this. They do and I feel empathy for their children.
    Mother’s Day is hard for childless women, no doubt. Especially in church. You’re right. Many clergymen don’t consider childless women’s feelings. The same holds true for Fathers Day. The day I not so affectionately refer to as “National Childless Men’s Chopped Liver Day”. My stepsons sometimes send me a card. Rarely if ever a gift. Let’s see, I’ve always gotten them presents for whatever occasion and kept my mouth shut when they didn’t reciprocate. No mas! I’m going to be a loud-mouthed horse’s ass if I’m snubbed again. Secondhand father. Walking ATM. Never again will I get into a stepparenting situation. It’s not worth it. And the emptiest, most lackluster experience I’ve ever had.


  2. Sue,

    Do we ever hear from those who left their spouses who didn’t want children, for someone who wanted them. If we have, how did It turn out ? I’m curious to hear.


  3. Sue,

    Thank you for having this blog. It’s the only forum for me to express my frustration about being childless. As you know, I have the opportunity before me to leave my wife, to whom my marriage has been on the rocks for years, for a much younger woman to have kids. I’m conflicted. I’m on the cusp of law school. I love the law and I’ve been told I’m very good in court during my internship. If I give up law school for this young woman, I’ll hate myself and resent her. It’s the most difficult and biggest decision of my life. I don’t know what to do.


    • I left a seven-year marriage because I wanted children. In my mind, there is no one worth giving up being a mother and having my own biological children (if I can). It was a very negative experience overall. Divorce is hard on probably everyone, but for me it was especially painful knowing I had left someone I truly cared for and then had nothing to show for it. A lot of the people I met who had also been divorced had children with their exes, and still had some semblance of a family left. I had neither. In my mind, part of the most painful part was thinking what if. What if I had stuck around a little bit longer? What if I could have convinced him to have kids somehow? Why am I the only one without?

      Dating was problematic due to the fact that I started dating way too soon after the divorce. I was not ready, but really wanted to find someone soon. Fertility waits for no one. Surprisingly, I found someone from my past who would do anything to be with me and was patient and kind and wanted to have kids! We are now married and I am pregnant! He has been a very attentive husband during my pregnancy, and takes good care of me and will be a good dad for sure. However, there is a kind of twist to the story. We were engaged when I got pregnant, and we were happy because we didn’t want to wait too long before having kids. But he has told me he only wants to have one child and he was very serious about it. I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know if we will have more kids, but, it is a very real possibility that he will prevent me from having another child and therefore, I will again in a way be childless by marriage technically.


  4. Mother’s Day, ugh!! The entire weekend, I am told, “Happy Mother’s Day” by store clerks and strangers. I smile and cringe inside. The fact that people are being kind allows me to not get upset about it!!

    I am 38 years old and I have three stepchildren. As many others, I finally, finally, finally found the love of my life. Someone I knew many years back too. He went off and got married and had a family. It just didn’t happen for me.
    Present day….We dated for 2 years and I chose to leave because I was depressed and devastated because he couldn’t have more children. He supported my decision. Everything else was perfect, but I wanted to be a mom. I was back after a month or two because I realized that I couldn’t live life without him.

    I struggle often. I am depressed and have bad anxiety. I cannot concentrate on anything. But not all days are like that. I have often browsed this site, but have been too down to post. Today, I was sad, really sad. My husband (we are married now!) tries to help, but nothing he does really ever works. I browsed and posted because I was ready! =)

    Take care of yourself, follow your heart, talk to your doctor & your partner and exercise. These are all things that have helped me. Look forward not behind. I always say, “It wasn’t in the cards for me.” Create other dreams!

    I don’t know if I will ever heal, but I do know that a man can still love you, have children with someone else, and be happy without you giving him a child.

    I am happy I found this group!!


  5. Sue,

    Father’s Day as we know is next month. This day I dread like the plague. I’d rather eat Brussels sprouts with liver on the side, than endure this day. To me it’s
    chopped liver and secondhand daddy day. God, I hate it with a passion . I’m still wrestling with my situation. I pray about it every day. So far God isn’t saying one way or the other whether I stay or go.


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