To Be or Not To Be – A Mother
While a woman has no control over finding an appropriate man, she does have control over her decision to have a child. When you become angry at a particular man – or men in general — for “preventing” you from having a child, you are abdicating your power and responsibility for your own life.
Are you childless by choice? You may never have thought about it that way. You may have seen yourself as single, without a child, and continuing that way until you got married. But, you have more choices. Do you want to be a mother, by choice, or childless by choice? This removes you from the passive position; you decide what you want, regardless of what happens with a man.
The decision to have a child should be unrelated to your having a husband, unrelated to your gender, or your sexual activity or orientation. Everyone, men and women, needs to make this decision. Ask yourself: Do I want to be a parent or not? Only if married? Only if I reach a certain age with no potential partner in sight? If so, what is that age?
The questions below may help you broaden your thinking about your choices in this serious matter.
Question #1: Do You Want To Be A Parent?
Is this is your own desire or are you trying to satisfy someone else’s expectation of you (i.e., parent, partner, society).
If you answer is no, make sure you are not giving up because you don’t have a husband. And, if you aren’t sure, give yourself permission to be ambivalent.
Most important: Whatever decision you make, there probably will be many days during the rest of your life when you will wonder if you made the wrong decision.
Question #2: Are You Willing To Raise A Child By Yourself?
Do you want a child only if it comes with a husband? Do you want a child only if it comes with a foolproof guarantee that you will always have this same husband? That he will always be actively involved as a father?
Question #3: Do You Have The Resources To Be A Single Mother?
You need two types of resources – financial and human. Just the basic necessities of shelter, food, clothing, and health care are expensive. Then there might be extras like camp, private school or college.
Do you have funds to hire someone to take care of your child while you work? A large enough home for a live-in-helper?
Human resources are vital. Do you have relatives or friends who will be a regular part of your child’s life? (There really is no such thing as a “single” mom.) If your friends are parents, might they provide a support network? Are your single friends committed enough to be a regular and significant part of your child’s life? Could you consider a communal home with one or more single parents?
Question #4: How Do You Want To Become A Mother?
If you’ve decided you want to have a child, next you must determine how to go about it. Listed below are some of the more common methods. You may have already thought of them, but seeing them in print might help clarify your thinking.
- intercourse with a man who wants a commitment to the child and to you but who does not want marriage
- intercourse with a man who wants a commitment to the child but not to you
- intercourse with a man who does not want a commitment to you or to the child
- intercourse with a specifically chosen man without telling him he is the father
- intercourse with a randomly picked man without telling him he is the father
- adoption of a child born in the US
- adoption of a child born outside the US
- artificial insemination with semen from someone you know
- artificial insemination with semen from a sperm bank
- add your own other options
Question #5: What Type of Contact Do You Want With the Father?
When the father is known, he may not want marriage, but he may want to be an active parent and participate in his child’s life. This can be an excellent option if the two adults have a good working relationship. Details need to be worked out legally to protect each of you and the child.
If the man is willing to give his sperm but doesn’t want any contact or responsibility for the child, again, protect yourself legally in case he changes his mind later.
Be cautious about using a man’s sperm without his knowledge. You may think it is the best way at the moment, but with so much litigation these days, you may pay the price years later if he comes back to claim paternity.
Question #6: If You Decide to Give Birth to A Child, What Do You Tell Others?
People will talk; therefore, you need to decide in advance how you will deal with them and their questions. What will you tell your parents? Will you use different language in talking with your mother than your father? What will you tell others? Some people will be intrusive and ask who the father is. Others may just look embarrassed or disapproving. You can be certain there will be rumors. The more consistent and firm your responses, the more in control of the conversations you will feel.
By facing these questions in advance, you will be reassured of the rightness of your decision.
(Adapted from With or Without A Man: Single Women Taking Control of Their Lives, Dr. Karen Gail Lewis, Bull Publishing, 2001)
If you have questions or comments or want more information, contact me at:
Dr. Karen Gail Lewis
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