Woman without kids
Life post IVF
Childless by circumstance
Childless not by choice
However you describe yourself...
However got you here...
Not being a mum really bruised your heart,
in fact, it probably broke it.
We get it.
We live with similar heartache.
Yet, here we are...
crafting humble, and sometimes joyful
lives without kids.
Come join us,
as we work this out...
Supports women, who had hoped to be mothers, to grieve the loss and craft lives of connection, meaning and joy.
We hold space for you to understand and grieve the losses, make sense of things, deal with difficult emotions or complex social situations, perhaps even broken relationships.
We help you to renew and find yourself again, and craft a beautiful life with or beyond childlessness.
However you got here,
we support you to grow (and perhaps even flourish)
as an older childless woman.
* individual counselling and mentoring for involuntary childless women
*in person and online group workshops, webinars, courses and programs with additional individual and group support
* community education, conference presentations and public speaking
* media articles, podcasts and other resources
* in-service professional training & consultations for the ART sector, general clinicians, counsellors and therapists.
* other (as requested)
UNDERSTANDING INVOLUNTARY CHILDLESSNESS
"The transition to non-parenthood is (or can be, ed.) as important and demanding as the more traditional transition to parenthood"
Matthews and Matthews, 1986
Coming to terms with permanent involuntary childlessness can be really hard. Being involuntarily childless means, we will never meet our own biological or social children, and we will never undertake one of the great human creative and relational projects of parenting and raising a child to adulthood, even though we wanted to.
We may live with the scars of our lost or unrealized children for the rest of our lives, or it might become a thing of the past. Wherever our grief lands, it is possible to live meaningful, loving, connected, significant and generative lives as older childless women.
The transition to permanent involuntary childlessness can involve
* tending to our physical and psychological health and wellbeing
* finding social circles that support and value us
* planning for and living a life we might not want, understand or expect
* living connected, generative and meaningful lives outside of the mainstream of parenthood, and
* learning to navigate child and family centred social and cultural spaces where our experiences of childlessness can be met with inappropriate and unsupportive responses, stigma, discrimination and even social exclusion
This isn’t always easy…
Sadly, this is just some of the baggage that can come with permanent involuntary childless.
Childless people are often met with pity and our needs are rarely considered in family focused cultural, social and workspaces. We're often talked about disrespectfully (if at all) by many public figures, both in the media and other community spaces, such as faith communities.
The needs of non-parents are rarely considered in employment, government or social policy. We are increasingly become subject to policies that impact our human rights, increase our financial burden or are divisive or stigmatizing.
Yet here we are - awesome, amazing, loving, humble, ordinary and sometimes even dazzling – people, friends, sisters, aunties, wives, daughters, employees, entrepreneurs, and the list goes on…
Despite often feeling invisible, childless people valuable and integral parts of human communities, relationships and lives.
We learn how to live well and contribute meaningfully despite mainstream pronatalist cultures, societies and people who can present parenthood as the only legitimate path to adulthood.
Our lives can be treated as a catastrophe and we, as older childless and/or childfree people, can often being overlooked or disrespected.
Our stories and experiences can be ignored or forgotten.
We are often dismissed, stigmatized, or treated as less mature, second-class citizens because we are not parents and don't have our own nuclear or extended family with kids. We can find ourselves feeling like outsiders circling around the families of others rather than the creators of our own families.
Yet childless people matter.
We are great family and friends, and have made a significant contribution to human societies and history
When our psychological wellbeing (including trauma and grief), and positive contributions are not seen and validated, it can make it emotionally unsafe for us in social spaces and workplaces. It can hide and/or make it difficult for us to acknowledge and psychologically process the impact of our very real losses.
These impacts can include trauma, grief and shame. The experience of involuntary childlessness can have a great impact on our social relationships, ongoing lives and self-worth. It can also undermine our ongoing psychological health and wellbeing.
and there’s always a but…
Wherever our grief lands...
We can become grief literate, and learn to understand and process our grief and other complex emotions, find emotional safety with others, tend to our physical and psychological wellbeing. We can live well, and craft lives of connection, contribution, meaning and joy!!!
Involuntary childlessness lies at the cultural intersection of grief literacy, the individual choice narrative, pro natalism and anti-natalism, and our social and cultural beliefs about the value and importance of older childless people.
"The cultural and social responses to our childlessness can bruise our already broken hearts."
Sarah Roberts, Founder, The Empty Cradle
The dominance of the individual choice narrative assumes agency in realizing our reproductive choices. Cultural narratives can assume that all women without children, are childless by choice, or that our childlessness is fixable.
When it's not it can feel like we're to blame. The social, policy and cultural responds to us can be both stigmatizing and punitive.
This not only undermines our self worth, but often leaves us feeling unsupported, isolated and struggling with our psychological health and wellbeing. This is often a very normal response to a complex and potentially traumatic human experience.
The social pruning of parenthood means we can be de-prioritized in social networks and/or shut out of relationships we care about
Broadly defining "mothering" can hide our very real losses. It centres parenting status in creativity, generativity and nurturing, and can make our experiences, voices and lives seem unimportant, meaningless and unfulfilling.
Which believe me, we're not.
We are some of the most interesting and generative and interesting people who are carving out loving and generative lives, without our deeply hoped for children.
and we're doing it
so all we ask for
Whether you are a parent, childless or childfree,
please do take the time to get to know and care about us
Yet, what do we do with our beautiful nurturing hearts?
Our social and community contributions often go unacknowledged.
For example, childless people contribute more in taxation and draw less from the social service system, yet we are often offered inadequate consideration and care across our lives, including ageing and death. The stigma and social exclusion of being childless can contribute to poor mental health and lead to insufficient research, concern, resources or care for our psychological health and wellbeing across our lives.
Cultural stereotypes about us can include:
crazy cat lady
dried up old prune
Can you think of anything positive?
The truth is we are complex, human, loving, generative, kind, thoughtful, loyal, honest, hard-working, contributing, good community members, neighbours, strangers, family, friends, and the list goes on.
We are fully, beautifully, human
in all our complexity.
We are everywhere.
Older childless people without kids
We're worth getting to know.
“Pronatalism expects and presumes that all women will be mothers, and stereotypes, stigmatizes and excludes those who fail to conform.”
Melissa Graham, La Trobe Uni
We hear this in comments that privilege parenting experiences, perspectives and qualities over the childless. Womanhood is equated with motherhood, and a fulfilling life without children is unimaginable. Older childless women are culturally stigmatized and stereotyped.
Whilst pro-natalism can exalt parenthood, anti-natalism can de-value it, and pathologize our desire for motherhood.
Grief-illiteracy disenfranchises our grief.
We are often pitied rather than respected.
We can be told we haven't lost anything,
(just our expectations)
we should have tried harder
we should just adopt
(like it's that's simple)
we lack ambition and we're not good feminists,
(devaluing our desire for mothering)
we're victims of social conditioning,
(we played with dolls right?)
or, our childlessness is better for the planet,
(the absence of our children will save the Amazon?)
These perspectives can lead to empathic failure by friends and family, in social spaces, workplaces, social policy, the media and cultural discourses.
We are expected to deal with it privately and just "get over it".
We might feel we need to do something "big" to make up for not being mothers.
Our stories don't seem to fit anywhere.
We aren't allowed to be fully human, in all our complexity, brokenness and beauty.
We retreat into silence, invisibility and often shame,
leaving us isolated, unsupported and socially excluded.
There is another way.
This is why we need each other.
COME, JOIN US
AS WE MAKE SENSE OF THIS TOGETHER.
CONNECTING WITH US
IS ONE OF THE FEW PUBLIC VOICES REPRESENTING THE PERMANENT INVOLUNTARILY CHILDLESS LIVED EXPERIENCE.
MEDIA, PODCASTS, PUBLIC SPEAKING, PUBLISHING
Involuntary childless perspective on:
Population and social policy
Childlessness by circumstance and infertility
Psychological care during and following fertility treatment
Health and wellbeing of involuntary childless people
Permanent involuntary childlessness
Involuntary childlessness grief and renewal
Life as an older, childless woman
Stigma, social inclusion and exclusion
Emotional triggers and microaggressions toward involuntary childless people
Workplace inclusion and ageing without children
Research and public policy
Other on request
ARE YOU INCLUSIVE OF INVOLUNTARY CHILDLESS PEOPLE?
When you engage with others, do you assume they are either parents or childfree by choice?
If so, you might be excluding the lived experience of up to 15-18% of the adult population.
That's actually a lot!
We are daughters, sisters, friends and colleagues.
You might be unintentionally triggering our grief and trauma,
or implementing policies based on stigma and stereotypes that exclude us.
You might be wondering how to support us better.
PLEASE REACH OUT.
HAS BEEN FEATURED IN:
Come, join us as we travel this path together...
What our clients are saying...
Finding The Empty Cradle was such a relief. The day I walked out of the IVF clinic, I was shattered, numb, I felt totally alone. No one around understood what I was going through. Talking to Sarah helped me understand that I was in deep grief, how to handle it and most importantly, that my reactions were normal.
Reach out today
We’d love to talk with you
COPYRIGHT © 2015-2023 The Empty Cradle. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Website by A Little Designer
Website by A Little Designer