Feeling guilty

Dear Sahar,

I’m an unmarried Arab woman of nearly 40, with no potential marriage plans on the horizon. I love children and enjoy being the doting aunt and godmother to my nieces and nephews, but I honestly don’t want children of my own. This realisation has shocked me. Is there something wrong with me because I don’t want children of my own? My family do not understand at all. I’ve come to terms with the idea that even if I do tie the knot, I will not have kids and may not even be able to – given my advancing age. People around me keep telling me it is wrong and selfish thinking on my part. They keep reassuring me that I would make a good mother. So why is it that I can’t wrap my head around the idea of ever starting a family? I am maternal but, not when it comes to me. Is this normal? I can’t shake off this feeling of fear and regret – fear of having and regret that I may not. What’s your viewpoint on this, please?

Thank you,

Ms Muddled Mind

The Life Mentoring Answer:

Dear Ms Muddled Mind,

We are not living in the middle ages! So, unless you are sitting on a throne and the future of the country depends on you procuring “an air and a spare” there is no rush. And, there are no immediate repercussions to your decision of not wanting to have children of your own- relax!

Seriously though, I would like to make several points, the first of which is:

  1. Yes, you are normal! There are many women (and men) who choose to live their life to the fullest without having children or not. While it is truly a blessing if one has and can enjoy having children, the gift of life itself is a tremendous blessing. Why aren’t you enjoying yours, and why do you choose instead to spend it feeling guilty or worrying?
  2. I truly believe that: any person, particularly women who have or don’t have children, can still nurture, express their maternal or paternal instincts, and have a direct positive impact on shaping the lives of their nieces, nephews and other children in the family too. As a child, I spent more time with my aunt and uncle during the summer holidays than I did, with my parents. It was valuable time that had a direct impact on me. You can still “mother” and enjoy spending time with other children in the family, knowing that your contribution is as important as their parents. In fact, in some ways, your relationship can be more effective with other people’s children. You are more objective and can establish a deep connection on a different level to their parents – which they will value.
  3. You have no partner yet; don’t you think you are putting the cart before the horse? The decision of having children is usually a shared one within the partners of the marriage. There is no point in wasting your energy worrying about something that may or not be an option. Instead, channel your energy into something else, like learning something new, picking up a new hobby, developing your interests etc.
  4. As far as the universe is concerned, how you express your “creative” energy is the same. Whether you have a child, write a book, create a painting, or design and cultivate a garden- it is all an expression of your creative ability. You would feel fulfilled and will have a sense of accomplishment anyway.
  5. Why do you allow others to dictate how you should feel? You are nearly 40, as you said, have you no mind of your own? Or do you feel you still need the approval of others to validate yourself and your life? No one can do that for you but yourself.
  6. Let’s say you do meet the right partner and get married; will you still allow them to interfere and dictate how many children would be enough, or indeed what sex that child should be?? So, I suggest you stop discussing the subject with others (it serves nothing but bring you down) and get on with planning other means of expressing your creativity.
  7. You can always make up your mind when the time arrives. Not earlier, and not later. Try to deal with your life as issues arise, rather than live in the shadow of fear or guilt. It would be such a waste of your vital life force; you would feel drained and encumbered where you could feel exhilarated and alive anyway- which would make you more attractive as a person and as a potential partner!
  8. As a human species, we are also mammals, animals whose physical bodies were programmed over thousands of years to pro-create; this can play havoc, hormonally speaking, with your emotions. However, as a developed human being and an adult, you are also blessed with an intelligent mind capable of making choices and having command over emotions and your life. So, without feeling guilty, focus on “creating”. Your mind will enjoy the process of seeing the product of your creative output in any case.
  9. Regardless of age or marital status, you can always choose to adopt a child (or sponsor/mentor the education, life and wellbeing of one) and give it the loving home and care that any child deserves. I know of two people, friends of mine, who remain single but chose to do just that. The first, an Arab woman who adopted a child at birth. The second, an Englishman, who adopted 6 Arab unprivileged children and sponsors their educations and holidays and is heavily involved in their daily lives.Finally,
  10. You may have a greater purpose in life than becoming a wife and having a child. How will you ever find out unless you give yourself a chance, invest in your self-development, and live your life to your fullest potential? You might inspire other children in your own family to follow your example. Wouldn’t that be the greatest of the gift of all?
The Life Coach- June 2015 – New You Magazine


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©Sahar Huneidi-Plamer

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