I’m old, at least compared to women of childbearing age. If I had children, they would give me a window into the lives and the thinking of people decades younger than me, but I don’t, so I’ve been eavesdropping on podcasts.
The other day, I listened to a chat on “Authentically BeYOUtiful” titled “Being Unmarried and Childless in Your 30s.”
Here’s how they introduced the subject:
Throughout our 20s, we found it to be socially acceptable to not quite settle down yet and focus on bettering ourselves. Some might call it selfishness; others might call it just making the best of our youth and freedom while we had the opportunities to. The decisions to get married and bear children are the biggest life decisions we will ever have to make. And, these critical life decisions should not be taken lightly. Before we get married and are forever linked to another person, we must first be happy with ourselves. Before we bring a new life into this world, we must truly want to be parents.
As we shift into our early 30s, we are feeling increasingly more pressure to settle down by those around us. Listen to this latest episode to see how our perspectives about marriage and children have changed from our 20s to our 30s. With so many females in the same situation as we are, we have been so anxious to open up about this topic to help normalize this new societal norm for millennials and future generations.
The three women, Melly, Sadie and Camille, all in their early 30s and single, seemed to be in no hurry to become mothers. Times have changed, they said. Although they are getting pressure from their families, friends, co-workers, and strangers, all agreed that they were not ready yet. Education, career, and travel were higher priorities, plus they want to be sure they pick the right husbands. As Mollie said, “When I do get married, I want it to be done right.”
All three are Asian American. They cited statistics that showed Asians are more likely than other groups to delay marriage and kids. In their age group, one-third of college-educated women did not yet have children, they said. Mollie said she would consider having children before marriage if necessary to make sure she isn’t too old to get pregnant.
Their closing message to women who in their mid-30s are still single and childless: “It’s okay. Just do you.”
“You do you” is becoming one of my most disliked popular sayings.
As an older woman with more life experience and 13 years of reading your comments here at the blog, I was struck by how sure these 30-somethings were that they could have everything they wanted in life. When they’re ready to marry, the man will be there. When they’re ready for children, they’ll simply get pregnant and have as many children as they decide they want.
There was no consideration of the possibility that they might have fertility problems or fall in love with someone who already has kids and doesn’t want more. What if they become stepmothers and never have biological children? What if menopause sets in early? I know we worry about all this stuff here at Childless by Marriage. They’re real fears.
But I wonder how many people out there are still seeing the world through rose-colored glasses, certain they can have everything they want when they want it. God knows, I hope it all turns out well for these women and all the young people who are waiting for the “right time.” But sitting here twice their age, I’m thinking, I don’t know . . .
Here’s the link if you want to listen for yourselves. There’s a lot of extraneous chit-chat before they get to the subject, but they’re pretty fun to listen to.
What do you think, especially if you’re in that 30-something group, too? Do you feel like there’s still plenty of time?
9 thoughts on “30-somethings in no hurry for parenthood?”
I’m also not in the right age-group. And I found my husband when I was young. But I did think that the children would come when bidden. And like one of the women you quoted, I wanted it to be at the right time. Then, of course, they didn’t. I think women who are used to achieving things, getting their own way, find it harder to imagine that things won’t work out the way they think. And because they’re not focusing on the idea of children, they’re also probably not reading information that might suggest that time is not on their side. Because that was me too. Sigh. I feel for them. Yet it is almost impossible to tell them that things might not work out as easily as they think.
I’m 37, and I feel like the years meant to do all that childbearing are long gone. And if I decide to do it, it’s gonna be hard for everybody, for many different reasons.
I really hope it’s easy for them when they decide to get to it because from my life experience I have learned that there is a right time for everything, and if you don’t take advantage of the opportunities given to you at the right moment, then they won’t be there waiting for you. In my case, there wasn’t any “right time” or “window of opportunity” to have children at any point of my life so that’s why I never went for it. I guess it wasn’t in the cards for me and after a lot of grief I can say it’s acceptable.
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Mali and Jojo, thank you for these wise comments.
I noticed this when I went back to teaching full-time this year. Previously, I was always the youngest on the team. This past year, at 40, I was the oldest. I ate lunch with my co-workers almost every day and I noticed that none of them were talking about marriage or having kids. (Haha, I loved it!) On the rare occasion it did come up, it seemed like they all had the opinion that they had plenty of time.
Interestingly, I had more than a couple of students tell me that they didn’t want children. I’ve never had so many students declare this to me. Maybe it’s because I was a role model for them as someone who doesn’t have kids or maybe attitudes are changing across the generations, I’m not sure…
Interesting! I have seen that trend, too. Young folks seem to have different priorities these days. Maybe it’s good. And what a relief that you don’t have to listen to talk about children at work.
The problem with best laid plans is, you never know what is around the corner. At 32, I realised that my partner was not going to change his mind. I decided I was going to leave and find someone who wanted to marry me and have a family with me. However, I caught a virus and I never got better. I’d already been ill for 13 years but this later illness ended my working life and trapped me here. I’m 44 now and that ship sailed long ago.
My brother and his partner were 34 and 36 when they met. They both wanted marriage and babies but didn’t rush into it. After eighteen months together, her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and the future changed. Then late last year my brother was told he needed an urgent heart operation to correct a birth defect that would be fatal if left untreated. We never knew he had anything wrong with his heart until then. He was facing a six month wait but it’s been postponed indefinitely due to the Coronavirus pandemic. He is 42 and his partner will be 40 next birthday. He can’t work and they are living on loans from family. As I say, you never know what is around the corner.
Oh Jo, such tough situations. We never do know, do we? A year ago, we couldn’t have imagined the whole coronavirus thing, and now look at us. Take care.
Women are basically lied to about the reality of their biology and encouraged to “think first about education, then a career and if you must consider the other (untalked about) stuff later.” It was never discussed as a possibility in my early or mid twenties and I only considered it as an option at 29 (an epiphany of sorts) when my mother was terminally ill and the reality of life hit me like a frying pan to the head. Biology is harsh on women and doesn’t always play along with the politically endorsed game of waiting until your mid thirties. It is not just the conception and pregnancy, children are extremely demanding and require parental sacrifice for several years. No one tells you this.
Let’s face it, we always hear the success stories but no one gets to talk about their infertility or miscarriages so it skews perception. Women see that 46 year old celebrity with a baby and think it could be them when it is improbable. Not all women want children and that is fair enough, but women need to be taught to consider all options in their twenties so they can prioritise and have plenty of time to try for what they want in life.
Appreciate this blog post