Woman Frets over Decision on Kids

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 4, 1995 | Go to article overview

Woman Frets over Decision on Kids


Dear Open Mind: What does it mean when a woman doesn't want to have children? I've never wanted children of my own and have had several relationships end because I just don't seem to have what it takes to enjoy kids enough to tolerate them as part of my relationship with the father.

My family and friends have generally come to accept my feelings about this, but I know many people think it's unnatural and selfish. I've just always thought it best that I not have kids. I need a professional opinion. Please comment.

When a woman as thoughtful as the questioner doesn't want to have kids, it probably means she is in conflict. I would frame the conflict in terms of psychoanalyst Erik Erikson's developmental stage of generativity described as the stage of life when adults choose whether to reproduce and/or provide for the next generation.

An adult chooses to become a parent as a compromise between powerful, some would say God-given, biological drives to reproduce the species and powerful individual needs to preserve or enhance the self. Usually, not always, these drives and needs coincide.

A person may consciously choose not to have children because of financial constraints or because the person feels that he or she may best contribute to the next generation through work or other creative activities.

A woman may choose not to have children because of real threats that childbearing may pose to her health. Many unconscious motivations, related to a person's own experience in childhood, also influence decisions about having children and engaging in other relationships.

Psychodynamic psychotherapy or psychoanalysis may help this woman maximize her knowledge of her conscious and unconscious motivations so that she may more confidently proceed through her present stage of life. …

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