Being able to decide whether to have children is a luxury that many people are not afforded. Whether it’s as a consequence of personal circumstances or health issues, ultimately not having the option can be extremely painful and difficult to come to terms with.
For those who long to have children, but for whatever reason are unable, hearing parents moan about their respective offspring or lamenting their lack of personal time can at times be tedious and at worst engender resentment.
As you get older, it seems as though everyone is a parent. Activities are organised around children, play dates are pencilled in and if for no other reason than convenience sake, time is spent with other parents to accommodate the needs of the children. If you don’t have children you may find yourself feeling sidelined by those who do. Even when the children aren’t around, conversation largely focuses on their achievements and the daily dramas of their needs and nuances.
Such company can be extremely isolating and even when others are aware of an individual’s alternative circumstances, attempts to accommodate these differences can often be lost in translation and come across as patronising. Displays of empty envy often come to the fore. Parents assert their resentment of the childfree adult’s ability to spend their free time as they choose. They marvel at the opportunity to spend quality adult time with a partner and wonder at the freedom of only having to pick up a pair of mens jeans rather than a couple of kids’ pairs too.
This stark divide doesn’t dwindle with age. A woman’s ability to talk about her grandchildren can be as all-consuming if not more so than her ability to talk about her own children. So the playing-field doesn’t necessarily become any more level once the chicks have flown the nest.
Time experts say that it takes eight hours a day to raise two children to the age of eighteen, so is it any wonder that many people are exhausted by their attempts to do so whilst struggling to maintain a career at the same time? Those without children surely have the advantage of being able to devote more time and energy to their career and personal interests without finding themselves spread too thin.
One would hope however that in this day and age an individual is able to take a step back from their own situation and empathise with others regardless. Whether you have children or not it is important to recognise that we all have concerns which need allaying, with our problems relative to our situations.