Why is childlessness such a big deal?

A recent SBS show has spoken to women about why they didn’t become mothers and their responses were as complex as they were varied.We know there are many of you who don’t have children, but do you feel that everybody wants to know your reasons for not having children, and in some way feel as if they have a right to know – despite the fact that it’s none of their business?

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The Daily Mail reports that more than 20 per cent of Australian adults never become parents. People’s reasons for remaining childless seem to fascinate us.  When a woman reaches a certain age, she is expected to start thinking about having children. If she doesn’t, eyebrows are raised and we become nosey and judgemental. The usual questions out of earshot are: Isn’t she able to have children? Doesn’t she want children?

Dame Helen Mirren has said in the past “I have no maternal instinct whatsoever. Motherhood holds no interest for me.”

Mirren, who has been married for 15 years, admits that she always expected to be a mother. “It was not my destiny,” she says. “I kept thinking it would be, waiting for it to happen, but it never did, and I didn’t care what people thought.”

In Mirren’s case it wasn’t women, who gave her a hard time: “It was only boring old men. And whenever they went ‘What? No children? Well, you’d better get on with it, old girl,’ I’d say ‘No! F— off!’”

And who can blame her? It is an incredibly personal choice. And, if a couple want children but can’t have them, can be an very painful and sensitive subject.

Did you have an overwhelming urge to have children, or was a family never on the cards for you? If you chose not to have a family have you been asked rude and insensitive question about your reasons?