Can you be a parent… without being a parent? 38

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While guest hosting Women’s Hour on BBC’s Radio 4, actor Kim Cattrall said that she felt she was a parent, despite never having had children of her own, or adopting, fostering or being step-mother to any children.

Her comments sparked some surprisingly angry words from parent who said she simply couldn’t understand what it meant to be a mum.

The Sex and the City star, who turns 60 next year, said, “I am a parent. I have young actors and actresses that I mentor. I have nieces and nephew that I am very close to, so I think the thing that I find questionable about being childless or child-free [is]: Are you really? There is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn’t include your name on the child’s birth certificate. You know, you can express that maternal side of you very clearly, very strongly. I guess the word is… It feels very satisfying.”

“I am not a biological parent,” she continued. “But I am a parent. I didn’t change nappies, which is okay with me, but I did help my niece get through medical school. I did sit down with my nephew when he was [going through] a very tough time to join the army. And those are very motherly things to do, very nurturing things to do.”

Ms Cattrall’s comments were a retort to the detested word “childless” and they raised the question of how society values women who don’t have children, for whatever reason.

While some people jumped online to disagree with the idea that a woman can consider herself a parent (or “sparent” – a “spare parent”), many others defended Ms Cattrall’s view and thanked her for sharing it with the public.

What do you think? Can a woman be a parent without having had children, or having ever looked after children? Is mentoring and being an aunty close enough? Or is parenting a different kettle of fish? 


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  1. Yes she obviously has been very generous with her time to mentor and help her niece and nephew, however no that does not make her a parent sorry.

  2. its nice she cares about nieces and nephews and gives them her time and attention and I am pleased she mentors young actors BUT that does not make her a parent…not even close !

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  3. I think she might be a little bit delusional. Being an aunt and mentor is no where near the same as being a parent. My husband has mentored a number of junior colleagues over the years and we have had our nieces from a broken home stay with us for weeks at a time. This was before we had children of our own. Not the same. You do not have to be the biological parents but if you raise a child from very young then you are their parent. Sorry Kim – as I said delusional.

  4. It has been said that a community helps to raise a child…that being the environment in which the child grows…so therefore one could say that any one person within that community is a parent, without being biologically connected to a child!

  5. Not even close to being a parent. However, as she doesn’t actually know what being a parent is really like, it’s not surprising she has got it wrong and I feel there is no point in wagging the finger at her.

  6. She is no more a parent than I am a childless woman. That is not to say that she doesn’t have maternal instincts, abilities or experiences. Nor that she has loving and nurturing relationships with young people. But would she give her life for them? Would she sacrifice her career for them if it was necessary for their wellbeing? Would she put their interests above her own?

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  7. It is one of those things she feels she is a parent in a way and that is ok. It is just for some things the reality can not be explained or gotten close too until you do it.

  8. Hasn’t done the hard yards…maybe she is hoping to string along with nephews and nieces. But they aren’t fools. Good luck to her at this late stage to hope for something else in her life.

  9. If she wants to think of herself as parent ….who cares really,obviously she is deluded but it doesn’t really hurt anyone else does it ?

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