Childfree by choice — the power of a conversation
In my last blog post I casually dropped this line into the mix “This is from the perspective of a 33 year old woman who intends to be childfree by choice CEO — just putting that out there!”
There have been a few comments on social media about the childfree point but so far it’s largely gone unnoticed.
Last week I completed Lauren Currie’s UpFront confidence course and during those 6 weeks I had a major aha moment and last night was the culmination of a brave step that I took on a topic that matters to me personally.
A key learning I took away from the course was that insight + action = results.
Below is a copy of me sending an initial private message to Lauren about a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot recently.
“I’m emailing you in the first instance to sound out whether or not this is the most appropriate mini bond to set up.
Personally I’m at a stage where I don’t intend to have children, but will never say never.
Over the years I’ve met a number of women who are dear friends now who are child free by choice, but not everyone will know someone in their immediate circles who have made this choice.
I’m aware of the sensitives around not all women are child free out of choice and this is why I wanted to get your read on how appropriate this is as a mini bond group.
Talking more about this topic and making space to discuss what it means to have children or not is a conversation I’m interested in having as there’s a lot to unpack in this area. As it also intersects with LGBTQ+ couples and their choices on pregnancy & how they feel about having children too. Having children still seems a very hetronormative conversation.”
So what did I do next?
I sat on Laurens reply which asked if there was any interest in this topic.
I sat on it for 2 weeks and did not take action. Then, joining another weekly UpFront live, I heard the saying pop up a second time; insight + action = results.
And so I did it. I took the plunge and posted something very similar to the above post into the Bond community and I got a great reaction. In particular Emma Parnell’s response made my fear of sharing the topic all worthwhile.
I knew I wanted to speak to a group of likeminded women who were further along in their journey having made that decision, or someone like me in their 30’s who still has an occasional inner voice wondering will my mind change?
Following on from numerous doodle poll exchanges, several of us from the bond community landed on a date and so this Tuesday 27 July just gone, five women joined a 1 hour conversation that I’m humbled to have helped convene.
Applying all of my facilitation techniques I shared an intention for the meeting and a check-in question. I wanted to put people at ease and ensure we got the most out on a rather unusual google hangout to have with 4 people you’ve never met in real life before.
What did people want to get from the discussion?
A conversation like this needed an open check-in question and so I kicked off the discussion by asking people to share their name, location and one thing they wanted to get from the conversation. Age inevitably cropped up as well and we had a mix of ages spanning 33,36,43 and 54. This is what we wanted to get from our chat.
- I’ve not talked about this before and so am interested to hear others perspectives
- To talk about what is often a taboo topic, as it doesn’t often come up in conversation
- To meet with like minded people and to chat within a safe space
Following the discussion I’d asked everyone if it was ok to share a blog on the key themes that emerged, attendees have agreed to this and I’ve shared this post with them.
Below is a summary of the key themes from our conversation.
- A job isn’t a substitute for making the impact you want to in the world if you don’t have a child
- We enjoy having children in our lives — being an aunt is great fun, we don’t hate kids!
- Our choices have been informed by our own experiences of family & via our upbringing
- We know our own minds — choosing not to procreate is a decision we can and will make
- It can be tricky to come to terms with not making a choice as the concept of not doing something means nothing changes from where you are at right now — it results in us maintaining things as they are — we are happy with not doing something
- We have partners who share the same beliefs and we’ve known this since the start
- The level of self-awareness around our mental health and that of our partners has informed our choices
- How we feel about our choice can bubble up at different life stages
- We have and do experience challenges around others expectations of us having children
- There was a concern around how the perception of having children might impact career progression — which in itself shows there is work to be done on gender equality!
- Lastly there was a deeper level fear around who will care for us when we’re older — we came up with a solution to this worry by creating a sisterhood commune where we all care for each other when we’re old ❤ -maybe that’s a future business for UpFront!
How might we broach this topic of conversation in the workplace?
An interesting provocation from the group emerged around how to broach this topic and open up the discussion — especially in the workplace. Given a lot of colleagues do have children, those who don’t have children can then feel singled out in conversations that centre on being a parent.
There were a couple of threads that emerged which were along the following lines:
- How can this topic come up in conversation more easily?
- We couldn’t really think of many times this has come up — its very rarely discussed
- What would you want a colleague to say when you disclose this information?
How we describe our family set-up
After the conversation had closed rather serendipitously a friend had sent me this instagram post ( from the female lead) around the framing of family. To me this summed up part of how we have the conversation around stating our own choices of what family means to us as individuals.
I spoke about this to my husband and I’d totally forgotten we both say that we’re married with kits! Kits meaning our two kitties Samosa and Bhaji, our boys and that’s my perfect human-pet family of four.
So what’s my ask? It’s ok for you to not be afraid of this conversation. Let’s have a conversation about how to have a better discussion on being childfree by choice.
Comment on this blog, or in response to this being shared on social or in whats app — how have you seen the topic of being childfree by choice be raised and or discussed?
My hope is that by sharing this learning of speaking up on a taboo topic and encouraging a discussion around how we can better open up conversations, that more people feel seen and understood. Lastly and most importantly from a female progression perspective, women do not get overlooked for an opportunity due to an assumption being made about how we choose to live our lives.