practicality vs. psychology

by rantywoman

I share Olivia’s despair ( at this psychiatrist’s quote in the book “Childless: Reflections of Life’s Longing for Itself”:

“ ‘I think when people make a decision not to have children it’s really important to think about where that has come from, because the female body is designed to reproduce … At a very basic level that’s how we’re built. Therefore the conscious decision to override that basic biological given is often related to things that have happened since birth.’ Among those things could be a difficult, ‘dyssynchronous’ parent-child relationship, a significant death in the family, or severe emotional, physical or sexual abuse – the latter in particular, she says. All are examples of what might contribute to a decision to negate our natural tendency towards motherhood.”

What really annoys me about the quote is that while women may have a “natural tendency towards motherhood” (and even that is debatable for many women), there are numerous practical constraints against it– lack of daycare options, lack of healthcare options, lack of flexible work schedules, lack of decent partners, and on and on and on.   I’m sure there are many, many women who decide against having children because the circumstances just don’t support it.  I think it’s quite judgmental to assume they have all come from severely dysfunctional backgrounds!   One of the things that has always made me wary of therapists is my fear that they will view everything as a personal problem or failing and ignore the larger societal context, and her quote certainly feeds into that.