Today the findings of the ’2012 Modern Motherhood Report’ were published (the full report can be found in the October issue of Red Magazine). In many ways the findings were nothing new – today’s women are delaying motherhood – we all know this. However, there were some interesting discoveries:
According to the survey, half of women delay starting a family because they don’t want to give up their freedom. Apparently women are putting off having children because they would rather have more money, be able to focus on their careers and enjoy spending more time with their partners. However, 31% said they had not yet had children due to not meeting the right partner or disagreeing with their partner over when to have children. The magazine termed this ‘emotional fertility’.
Crucially 54 per cent said that being ‘emotionally infertile’ – not being able to have children because they didn’t have a partner – was as painful as being medically infertile. This included one in six – 15 per cent – who had split up as a result.
Brigid Moss, health director at Red, said: ‘We have identified what we call emotional infertility, that is being childless not by choice, due to not having a partner or a partner not wanting to have children. ‘We all know someone in this position. A doctor can’t help with emotional infertility.’
Every few months, there’s another warning from the medical profession that the best time to conceive is under 35. But this report has shown that often, at the right biological time, women are simply not in the right place emotionally or financially to start trying.’
I know our website is primarily aimed at mums but I can’t help but feel a sting from the irony of modern times. On the one hand we can celebrate the fact that women feel more empowered to be in control of their lives and make choices about career and freedom on the otherhand many women are delaying motherhood not by choice.
The Daily Mail’s slant on the report of course focused on women wanting to preserve their freedom as if it were a selfish act so I was pleased to see a comment from a male reader at the bottom of the article stating, ‘Men of course never delay starting a family so they can devote more time to playing Fifa and drinking beer. Oh no, they’re all raring to go at 21. The reason most women have to delay starting a family is because they either can’t find a suitable partner or their partner is putting blockers on it because he values HIS freedom too much. Most of my friends talk about how difficult it was to persuade their male partners to even contemplate it! Of course this being the DM, it’s all the woman’s fault!’
My mum had my twin sister and I very young, at 19 and I think she would say there are pros and cons to being a young mum – she had lots of energy, we were very close and she coudl relate to our teenage experiences well. However, equally I have friends who had children later on in life by choice who felt they were more stable and secure financially and emotionally and therefore better equipped to be mothers. A quarter of women in the survey said they’d wished they’d tried for children earlier. My heart really does go out to those who long for a child but simply have not met the right person.
Perhaps with freedom comes a price whichever way you look at it.