One to One Coaching

I offer free 30 minute telephone/Skype consultations for people wanting to find out more about coaching on the 'baby decision'. Email me at mailto:beth@ticktockcoaching.co.uk and assistant Laura will respond and arrange an appointment with you. Visit http://www.ticktockcoaching.co.uk/ for more information about my coaching services.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Relegated to the worst room in the house for Christmas

'Every year I go back home for Christmas and my sister, who has a partner and a child gets the big guest room.  Meanwhile, I find myself on an uncomfortable mattress on the floor in a cold junk room. It makes me feel even worse about not having children, around not being in a conventional relationship when I get relegated to this depressing room'

Over the years, I have heard a similar story from clients who are single and who return to their parents home for Christmas.  Although obviously there are many practical reasons for being put in the less comfortable position in the house, it can feel like a symbolic put-down.   While it might not be of much comfort, many other people are in a similar position - as illustrated by this rather amusing photo blog Christmas Sleeping Arrangements

But of course, it's not just about the room you are sleeping in.  It can feel difficult when you are in the middle of conventional families having a good time when you aren't sure about having children or if you are having to make a difficult decision that you aren't going to have children because the circumstances aren't right.   If this is you, right now, reading this blog, remember you aren't alone! Try to get away from the family, go for a walk, or reconnect with other friends over social media - make a few arrangements for when you return from the break.



Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of the bestselling Eat, Pray and Love has made a decision not to have children.  I think its important for women who are thinking about not having children to have role models of women who have made this choice and feel positive about it.  She explains this in this interview.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-3235198/Create-play-live-ELIZABETH-GILBERT-mission-help-discover-creativity-tells-Jane-Mulkerrins.html

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Choosing motherhood as an artist

While people often assume that the majority of my clients are high flying women in careers like finance, I have seen a fair number of women in the creative industries who have struggled with the decision whether to have children or not.  

Amanda Palmer wrote a heartfelt piece about her decision to have a child as an artist. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Single Motherhood doesn't make mothers unhappy

Some of my clients are considering whether they want to go ahead whether they want to have a child on their own or not. 

This article says that being a single mom

Does having or not having children impact you later in life?

I've referred to this study "Deciding When To Have A Child, If Ever: The Impacts Later In Life."  on my blog a few years ago but I think it's worth revisiting.

The study questioned 6000 women to determine whether having children or not affected their happiness in later life.  One of the biggest reasons women say they come to see me is because they are fearful that the choice they make now will affect them adversely in later life.  What the researcher found was interesting.

"Whether a woman has had children or not isn’t likely to affect her psychological well-being in later life," said University of Michigan sociologist Amy Pienta. "What is more important is whether or not she has a husband, a significant other or close social relationships in her life as she ages."

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Why Have Children

Many of the questions that clients have upon coming to see me is a variation on this one - why have children?

Zoe Williams has written a lovely piece in the Guardian's Comment is Free Section Why Have Children- it is a personal explanation of her decision and it cannot be universalized but I feel it gives an insight into why women who decide to have children have done it.

'People love having children. So the question is, why? Is it a grand delusion, a memory wipe about what life was like before? Is it, as the fiction writer Lorrie Moore once said, that children destroy everything else in your life and then become the best thing in it? Or are they a furnace of purpose and fulfilment, where previously there were only spot fires of miscellaneous interest?'



Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Ambivalent about having children

So many individuals feel ambivalent about whether to have children or not.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/10757649/To-breed-or-not-to-breed-One-womans-ambivalence-about-having-children.html

Interview on BBC Radio Tees - Making the Decision to have children or stay childfree

I just appeared on BBC Radio Tees this morning talking about the decision women make to be childfree in a discussion with presenter Mike Carr and writer Kate Spicer.   Holly Brockwell, who I mentioned in yesterdays blog post was also on the programme just before us, talking about her experience.

My main point was that we need to move beyond women being seen as either successes OR failures based whether they have children or not.  One of the questions Mike asked me is what I think is helpful advice for women who are trying to decide whether to have children or not.  I think it's really important to work out whether you are being led by a fearful belief (for example, I'm worried I might not be a good mother) or not.  I also agreed with the other Kate Spicer that it's important to acknowledge that sometimes we can't have it all, that we might want children but life and circumstances have prevented that happening.

If you would like to listen to the discussion, you can go to the Listen Again Mike Carr 26 November 2015 and go to about 1 hour 22minutes in - I should appear about 5 minutes after that.  There was some discussion prior to this so if you'd like to listen to the whole segment, just rewind abit! I hope you enjoy the show!


Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Woman attacked on Twitter for saying she doesn't want children

And if any proof was needed about the stigma faced by women who decide they don't want children, this article was just published on the BBC website from a woman who featured in an article I mentioned yesterday on the blog.  The social disapproval on women who make this choice make it more difficult for women who are struggling with the decision of whether to have children or not.

"I am used to trolling as I run a women's tech website but even I was affected this time because it was so vitriolic, so personal and nasty, and so specific about me and my professional life - not even about the issue of having children which I had been writing about." - Holly Brockwell

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-34916433?

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

I don't want children - Choosing to be Childfree

Many women make the choice to be child-free - but there is still a stigma attached to this choice.  The BBC magazine has published a great interview with several women who have made that choice.
 

Thursday, 19 November 2015

More women over 35 having their first child

Another report today on the larger numbers of women over 35 years old who are giving birth.

As the author of this article points out,

'For many of us, having a child well into our thirties or forties isn’t a “choice”. What about if the person you’re dating when you’re 26 isn’t the one? But even if someone does choose to delay motherhood – for whatever reason – it’s not something to feel bad about.'

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/now-more-over-35s-give-birth-than-under-25s-here-are-four-good-reasons-to-wait-until-youre-older-a6738176.html

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Can I afford to have children?

As this generation faces unreachable house prices, debt, skyrocketing fees for university the question of whether they will be able to afford to have children.  

Many of those who are Millennials are facing increasing debt, rising house prices and more job insecurity than previous generations.  So how is this affecting their decision to have children... or not? This fascinating article addresses this issue.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Being a single parent

I sometimes see clients who have found themselves to be in a circumstance where are considering having a child as a single parent.  It is an option that I think is very valid and can be very rewarding but also challenging. I think this article lays out the joys and challenges of being a single parent very well and she is particularly answering the question for   'women in their late 30s and early 40s, who always thought they would meet a brilliant man and have children.'

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/10/what-being-a-single-parent-is-really-like-sophie-heawood

Monday, 14 September 2015

Egg Freezing: A viable solution to the baby decision?

This article which appeared in the Guardian a few weeks ago is fairly positive around egg freezing.  However I do have many questions about the promotion of egg freezing as a solution to the issue around women's fertility.  We really don't know enough about the success rates for women freezing their eggs to see this as a truly viable solution and perhaps if women had the opportunity to consider the issue more fully and positively they might decide not to have children.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Having a child as an older mother

Sometimes women who are making the decision to have children or not are concerned about having a child as an older mother. Here's a good article exploring that difficult issue.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/11811984/Whats-it-really-like-to-have-your-first-child-in-your-50s.html

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Simple Pleasures

Following on from my post yesterday on the drop of happiness that occurs for new parents, I wanted to share this delightful and funny letter to new parents on the simple pleasures that you do give up when you become a parent.

http://goodmenproject.com/families/the-30-simple-pleasures-you-will-give-up-when-you-become-a-parent-wat/

Although it's very true that newborn's make many of the simple pleasures in life you take for granted difficult,  as a coach, I encourage people - whether they are making the baby decision or whether they are parents who are wanting more of their life back, to decide what is important to you and how you can create space to have these things in your life - despite the challenges.  And of course, as your child gets older, you do slowly regain pieces of your old life back and you can enjoy some of these pleasures once more.

Monday, 17 August 2015

New parenthood leads to a drop in happiness


A study showing that new parenthood rarely equates with happiness!

'About 30 percent remained at about the same state of happiness or better once they had the baby, according to self-reported measures of well-being. The rest said their happiness decreased during the first and second year after the birth.'

Of those new mothers and fathers whose happiness went down, 37 percent (742) reported a one-unit drop, 19 percent (383) a two-unit drop and 17 percent (341) a three-unit drop.

Being a new parent is hard work - sleep deprivation combined with new responsibilities can weigh heavily on us.  The study showed that people's drop in happiness fell into three categories - one being the overwhelming responsibilities of new parenthood.  One of the questions I have is whether happiness rises back once children become older?

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Not just the sperm donor...

Many women are choosing to have children on their own.  The role of the sperm donor has traditionally been an anonymous one.  Yet,  more and more woman are choosing to have a child through a co-parenting arrangement with a man.

There are many benefits to this... one of the things clients come to me with is the overwhelming worry about having a child on their own as a single parent.  And having the involvement of another adult can help to share the burden greatly.

In this article, Sperm Donor, Life Partner,  author interviews people who have become involved in these new co-parenting arrangements.

'For women in their thirties and forties, choosing someone to co-parent with can be a smarter decision than trying to find a mate because it takes the pressure off to marry or reproduce with someone you barely know.'

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The limitations of fertility can be heartbreaking for those who do know they want to have children.  In this story, a young couple talk about their experience of fertility treatment.

 http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/06/young-infertile-four-years-forty-negative-tests-ivf

I often get clients who come because are trying to make the decision whether the want to have children enough to go through all the difficulties of fertility treatment.  

Saturday, 6 June 2015

I'm thinking of having a baby on my own.

I regularly have women who are in the same situation as this reader writing into the advice column on the topic I'm thinking of having a baby on my own in the Guardian.  If you haven't meet the right person by age 35, then considering having a baby on your own is an option to consider.  But as this woman points out,  it is a difficult choice, particularly when faced with negative options of others.



Monday, 1 June 2015

Teaching teenagers about the limitations of fertility


I'm speaking this morning on BBC Radio Tees in response to calls for Sex Education to include information on fertility and the limitations of fertility

“We have been very effective at teaching teenagers how not to get pregnant,” Prof Geeta Nargund says. “Now, we need to start teaching them about fertility as well, so they can get pregnant when they choose to.”

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/may/15/sex-education-for-teenagers-should-include-fertility-says-doctor

Saturday, 30 May 2015

My mother didn't want to be a mom

Some of my clients who come to me say that behind their indecision is hearing negativity from their own mother.   This article looks at what it is like to be the child of someone who didn't want to be a mother.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Stigma and the decision to have children or not.

Sorry about the delay in writing on the blog.... I had been aiming to update the blog at least twice a week but things have been so busy lately - new coaching clients booking in from as far away as Australia and Germany that I have found that two weeks have gone by.

One of the difficult things for many of my clients is around the stigma still associated with the decision not to have children.

Here is a great article that recently appeared in Time Magazine I Don't Want to Have Children and That's OK 


Friday, 1 May 2015

While We're Young - a missed opportunity

I recently went to see the film While We're Young - which I enjoyed.  And yet, I agreed with this reviewer that it was a missed opportunity in their portrayal of the decision to be childfree.

http://www.salon.com/2015/04/30/youre_still_nothing_until_youre_a_mom_why_does_pop_culture_hate_the_child_free/


Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Testimonial


"Beth's gently probing and holistic style of coaching has proved especially valuable at a key stage of my career.  Her life experience and understanding of the many aspects that comprise a working woman's  life make her a great coach for those looking to flex their work/life balance. Her use of visual techniques I found very beneficial and has lasted to great effect in achieving certain goals."  ~ HJ, Career Coaching Client

I received this lovely testimonial from a client who I had worked with over five months - our main focus was on work/life balance and career.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Challenging assumptions - are you obligated to have children?

Here is a short blog post looking at the issue of the 'cultural obligation' around having children.  It's quite short but it has some excellent links to research into attitudes around having children and remaining childfree. 

http://m.pittnews.com/opinions/article_bb0cd566-dcbb-11e4-9025-6f11cb4df8b1.html?mode=jqm

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Advice to a man who doesn't want kids but his girlfriend does

Good advice here!

What are the consquences of delaying the decision to have chidlren?

We are all so used to having more choices and being able to do so much more than previous generations did.   One thing that has remained unchanged is our biology - we simply can not get away from the fact that our fertitlity does decrease from 35 and then rapidly from 40.  Although IVF and technology can help, as this article points out, it's important to know the consquences of delaying the decision to have a child.  Of course, for those who are open to adoption, there are not the same time limitations

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health-advisor/plan-to-delay-having-a-baby-make-sure-you-understand-the-consequences-before-its-too-late/article19080910/

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Millennials get to grips with the baby decision

So, as the 'Generation Y' gets older, they too are starting to grapple with the decision whether to have children or not.  As this article points out, they have seen the previous generation, generation X'ers worry about fertility and have learnt lessons from their experience.

'For now, research suggests that while those millennials value parenthood, even more than marriage – 74 per cent of them want to have children, according to American statistics from the Pew Research Center – their fertility rate is falling behind that of Gen X. About 36 per cent of women in the 18-to-29 age group had had children in 2010, compared with 41 per cent of Gen Xers of the same age in 1998.'

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/its-gen-ys-turn-to-face-the-baby-clock/article17478562/






Saturday, 4 April 2015

Friday, 20 March 2015

Men who want children more than their girlfriends or wives

Men, until recently, have not shown a huge amount of interest in exploring this baby decision and therefore, I have targeting my services at women who are exploring or are ambivalent about the baby decision.

In terms of dealing with the tricky issue of wanting a baby when your partner doesn't, if I do have a client is coming to me for help because they want a baby but their partner doesn't, they are women.

However, in the past few years, I seen a slight increase in the numbers of men approaching me for coaching help when they want a child but their partner doesn't

This seems to be a growing trend - as discussed in this article Men Want Babies and Women Want Freedom. 

The author makes a very salient point at the end of the piece,

'As long as the particulars of childcare and career and flexibility are a gamble for women more than men, more and more of us are going to opt out of this dance. The upside is that maybe then we will have the collective leverage to fix the system.'

Sunday, 15 March 2015

When is a good time to have a baby?

One of the questions that people have when they are thinking about having children or not is whether there is a'better' time to have a child - particularly if they have a very demanding career.  This article looks at the issue of how to plan for a baby. 

http://www.bustle.com/articles/69693-how-to-plan-for-a-baby-when-you-have-a-demanding-career-plus-how-companies-can

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Having children over 45

Many more women are having children after 40.

I found this interesting article written by a woman who had her first child over 50. 

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/nov/09/having-first-baby-at-51

The article quotes IreneeDaly who studied women who had children later in life.

Social norms have changed, says Irenee Daly at the Centre for Family Research in Cambridge. "We don't expect women of typical university age to want to have children. We socialise them away from that. The 20s are now regarded as a time for exploration, before life's enduring responsibilities take hold." Young men and women still expect to have settled down in a stable relationship and own their own home before starting a family. "And since these things are all happening later, that pushes having children later."

For her doctoral thesis, Daly looked at whether women in their late 20s and early 30s understood the degree to which fertility declined with age and whether they thought that IVF could compensate for the effects of ageing. "There was a perception that it would work out in time. Most of the women I spoke to were shocked to learn that IVF is linked to age, that even in the youngest age group, we're talking about only a 30% success rate. Then they were doubly shocked to see that by 44 it goes down to 5% using one's own eggs."

Freezing eggs doesn't guarantee a viable pregnancy and, as Daly points out, "You have to freeze young eggs, so a woman of 40 saying that she's decided to freeze her eggs – well, what sort of quality are those eggs?"

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Are you ready to have children?


One of the issues that comes up for people coming to me who are unsure whether they want to have children or not is around whether there is a ‘right time’ to have children or not.

 
The pressure of the biological clock often means that people can feel pressured into having children before they feel ready.  Once you are in your mid-30’s, it can feel like you don’t have time enough to be in the ‘right’ place for having children. 

 
My approach is to take clients through their fears around not being ready enough and we question them together

 

  • Finance - How much finance do they think they need? Is that realistic? Could they manage on less?
  • Career - How could they manage the focus on their career and child-raising? What compromises could they and their partner make? What role models can they find in their industry who manage work and kids well? What strategies could they put into place?
  • Personal Freedom – What else would they like to do before they have children? How could they still ensure they have some freedom and the ability to have adventure even after they have children?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Monday, 2 March 2015

Is there a right time to have a baby?

I was quoted in this short article in March 2015 Cosmo UK on the right time to have a baby!

In this article, the journalist looked the benefits of having children before age 35.




Tuesday, 24 February 2015

When friends have children


When your friends start having children, it can feel like you've been abandoned.  I thought this was an interesting article from a mother who talks about the importance of staying close to friends who don't have children.  This came out of her own experience.

'Pre-baby, I didn't think much about there being a great baby divide between women. As my friends slowly started to have children, I realized that I didn't see them as much as before, but I didn't worry too much about our friendships changing until I was the only childless one present at a friend's child's birthday party one year. While everyone talked baby this and baby that around me, I felt completely left out of the conversation. I cared about their kids, but I had nothing to contribute.'

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mommy-nearest-/how-to-stay-close-with-friends-who-dont-have-kids_b_6678426.html

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Do you think that people who choose not to have children are selfish?

I was invited to speak to recent comments by the Pope that people who do not have children are selfish on LBC Radio Today.  I had an interesting discussion with the presenter Shelagh Fogarty

(You can read more about the Pope's comments in this article Pope Francis: The Choice to Not Have Children is Selfish )

We need to recognise the diverse ways that people can contribute to our communities and to the lives of others  in all sorts of ways.   People who do not have children often have more time and energy to give to other people in the community.  Many people without children are also involved in the lives of friends children or nieces or nephews.  Or they are supporting and looking after elderly relatives.
It's disappointing that the Pope didn't acknowledge the great contribution that many people without children make - indeed the Catholic church is made up of people who have decided not to have children in order to live a life of service.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Regrets about not having children.

I often talk to clients who wonder if they will feel regret about not having children when they are older.

For my book, I interviewed older childfree women and several mentioned that occasionally they do feel a twinge of regret but that on the whole they felt find with their choice not to have children.

I was reminded of this when I read this lovely letter that a child free woman wrote to a child she could have had in a parallel universe.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/24/letter-child-will-never-be-born

I think that it's natural to wonder about a path that we didn't take and feel a twinge of sadness about what might have been.


Monday, 9 February 2015

Last week, there was an interesting discussion on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour programme on women who want to have sterilization in their 20's and early 30's.  Many women who do want sterilization in their 20's or 30's are refused it - and one of the arguments used is that the woman might change her mind and want children after she had made this irreversible decision.

 Three women were interviewed - one woman who was sure in her 20's she didn't want children, one woman who did wait to see if she would change her mind but didn't, and one woman who thought she didn't want children but did change her mind.   You can listen to the podcast by going to this link and going to the podcast for Feb 5th.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/whnews


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Worried I will lose freedom if I have children?

In my coaching practice, I call upon polarities work a lot when I am working with people can't decide whether they want to be parents or not.

One of the common polarities that comes up again and again is FREEDOM VS COMMITTMENT/STRUCTURE

Clients who are struggling with this polarity often report:

- Loving their freedom & independence!
- Valuing spontaneity and the ability to do 'what I want, when I want'
- Feeling constricted or suffocated by the idea of mundane routines associated by having children
- Hating the idea of predictability

Yet usually in the pole that we are rejecting or that we find difficult to be with are positive aspects that could help & support us in life as well.

The key is to see if you can find ways to combine the positive aspects of freedom with the positive aspects of committment. Would the committment or structure of having a child be different is you knew you were still able to have freedom and independence?




Monday, 2 February 2015

Who is going to care for me in old age?

An article appears in the Times today on this issue I've been exploring here on the blog - really important that it is being discussed and explored by policy makers.  You can read the article here at the Gateway Women (an organisation for women who are childless not by choice)



Thursday, 29 January 2015

Is concern about finance a large factor in making the decision to have children or not?

In my last post, I looked at the issue of the cost of having children.   Many studies have shown that having and raising a child to the age of 18 is indeed costly - with most estimates putting the cost over £200,000 per year.

I find it interesting that financial fears are rarely at the top of my clients list of fears or anxieties.  Often finance is taken into consideration into when to have a child. Clients might speculate about timing whether to stay in a job because it has good maternity leave and pay. 

If a woman is considering having a child on her own or not, the issue of whether her income is enough to support a family is often mentioned however.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Cost of having children

Figures were released last week that parents spend just under £300,000 on their children up to the age of 18.

The financials are daunting to those people thinking of having kids - as this writer points out.  http://money.aol.co.uk/2015/01/24/stop-wasting-your-money-on-your-kids/

Financial worries and concerns are often a factor in what my clients say concerns them in making the decision.  Yet I have found that it is very rarely the deal breaker.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Can I care about the environment and decide to have children?

I'd like to bring another persoective on the topic of how our concerns about the environment impact on our decision whether to have children or not.

Some of my clients do express fears about how having a child will impact on the environment.  Others feel that the world is in such a bad state - both in terms of environmental destruction and in terms of the geo-political situation that would it be right or fair to bring a child into the world.

Just living in the world means that often we have to make compromises around our ideals.  And making the decision to have children is no different.  When I work with clients, I facilitate them to explore whether they do have enough of a desire to have children to compromise on an issue of importance to them.  And if they do, we look at ways they could have children that would be least damaging or harmful.

The writer of this piece in AlterNet writes about how she went through a similar process.

http://www.alternet.org/environment/does-having-child-make-me-carbon-villain

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Environmental implications of having children

This week I'd like to give some thought to the environmental considerations to deciding whether to have children or not.

This is not a factor that masses of people contemplating the baby decision take into account. Yet with growing concern on our human footprint more and more people are making the link.

In this article, one woman explores some of her reasons - including environmental reasons that she is not having children. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Getting Older Without Children

Following on from my blog post yesterday, the issues facing people who don't have children when they get older is becoming more and more pressing.  The organisation Aging Without Children has been exploring this topic for several years.

They are organising a conference in London at the end of January which will look at many of the related issues and come up with policy reforms for governments and other agencies working with older people to implement.

I'm so pleased that people are taking a pro-active stance on the issue that is of concern to so many women who either do not have children or who are thinking of being childfree.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Who will look after me when I'm older if I don't have children?


'By 2030, two million people in the UK will be over the age of 65 without children. One in four women born in the 1970s will reach 45 without giving birth. This month a conference, the first of its kind, will be held for childless adults over 50 to meet and discuss their care needs in later life. And a BBC poll has found more than half of adults say they won't have relatives they can live with in old age.' ~ BBC press release

Today I been contacted by a few regional BBC radio talk shows to speak on the issue of getting older and not having children.  I've been interviewed on Radio Tees this morning and will be on Radio Scotland Tomorrow. 

I'm very interested in the issue as it's one of the key fears that clients who are considering being childfree often have.   And it is a very real concern.  Many people in the UK rely on the unpaid support of friends or family as they get older.    As a report by the charity Community Links called 'Looking Forward to Later Life: Taking an Early Action Approach to Our Ageing Society'  (photo of front cover on the right) points out,  the value of unpaid care by family and friends is valued at £119bn per year.

But there are many problems in assuming that older people will have children who will look after them.  Even if someone does have children, the nature of how we live today is that many people end up living and working far from their family of origin.  Indeed how little they see their adult children can be point of bitterness for older people.

In my opinion, it is far better to promote mental resilience in later life.  This is an idea that also is promoted by the Community Links report.

When I work with clients for whom this is a concern (and who do have several decades to prepare), I coach them to think about how they can address this risk and prepare for it.  For example, they might decide they need to make more connections in their local community now - through joining community groups as volunteers.  They might decide to plan move somewhere like a co-housing situation where there are built in expectations of support and community.  Or they might look at the idea of fostering young people when they are older - to both give back and to develop connections with younger people.

Monday, 12 January 2015

If I grew up in a dysfunctional family will I be a good mother?

This week I'd like to focus on some of the fears that I have heard from some clients coming to see me.

Some people are concerned that growing up in a dysfunctional or abusive family would mean that they would not make good parents.

There can be a fear that, unless we have learned good parenting skills from being well parented ourselves that we might replicate the dysfunctional situation.

In coaching, we say that, while the past provides a context for our fears, our saboteurs and who we are, it does not have to define us.   I believe that if we recognise and reflect on how we might be as parents and if we are concerned about an aspect of our behaviour and how it might impact on others we are ahead of the game!

Sometimes it might be useful to explore difficult or traumatic childhood in psychotherapy before or instead of going into coaching - as was advised to the woman writing to the advice columnist in the article below.  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/09/want-child-but-had-abusive-mother

I would recommend this particularly if you have never discussed this with a counsellor or therapist before.  It's often important that we have a space to explore and reflect on difficult childhood experiences before looking at what we want for the future.

Many of my coaching clients who have this worry or fear have already done this with a therapist or counsellor and have reflected on their childhood experience and are now wanting a forward looking approach which helps them work out what they are really wanting and then, embrace this future without the fears and saboteurs that have been holding them back.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Gender and identity of women who choose not to have children

This looks like an interesting article which explores how traditional notions of gender idenity affect women who choose not to have children.


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Identity and Childfree Women

Having explored some of the issues around identity and motherhood, I'd like to turn my attention to the issue of identity for women who are considering not having children and women who have decided to become childfree.

For many women who are debating whether to become mothers or not, the issue of how a childfree woman is viewed by society is a very real issue.  Even in 2015,  notions of women's identity being tied to motherhood abound.  Many clients of mine report feeling pressured into having children and feeling as though they 'would not be a real woman' if they choose not to have children. 

An example of how women's identity is often (wrongly in my view) tied up with motherhood is how, when politicians debate 'women's issues' they are primarily about issues to do with child-rearing and motherhood.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The theme I've been exploring here in the blog this week has been the changes to idenity that happen after having a baby.  This woman describes that shock in having a newborn child in this article.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Will being a mother change who I am?

Following on from my post yesterday, I decided to look again at the issue of how becoming a mother might change our sense of who we are, our identity.

As I mentioned, for women who are debating whether or not to have children, this issue is often very much at the forefront of their mind.  Particularly if they have witnessed friends after having their first child.

I found this study which looked at the question of motherhood and identity.

I think one of the quotes from a woman who was interviewed a year after the birth of her child that she 'is the same woman in a different world' very salient.

 http://www.timescapes.leeds.ac.uk/assets/files/The-Making-of-Modern-Motherhood.pdf

Sunday, 4 January 2015

I'm worried I will lose my identity if I become a mother

One of the fears that I often hear from women coming to coaching is focused on fear of loss of identity.

'I like who I am now.  I see friends who are consumed with baby talk all the time. I don't want to turn into that version of motherhood.' said a woman I interviewed for my book.

And this is a common fear.  Particularly for those of us in our mid-30's - if we have fought or struggled with self-doubt or with building up our career, it can seem like a risk to give up our hard won idenity.

Yet, I firmly believe that having a child does not fundamentally change who we are.  When I'm coaching a woman who can't decide whether she wants children or not , we spend time on looking at who she is when she is at her most positive & confident.  Early on we do an exercise looking at values and what her core values are.  While how she will live out these values might change if she decides to be a mother, these values - which are a huge part of her identity - do not fundamentally change. 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Friday, 2 January 2015

I don't want children but my girlfriend does

One of the most difficult situations in a relationship is when one person does want children and the other doesn't.

Most often I tend to coach the partner who does want children but sometimes I do work with people who don't want children but there partners do. 

In these situations, I focus with the client on the following.

1) checking out their decision again - is it a fear based decision? If we look at it from a different perspective or without the fear would they make a different decision? 

2) is there a circumstance where they would consider having children?

3) Accepting the consequence if their decision - are they prepared for the relationship to end?

4) Talking to their partner - How can they have an open and honest conversation with their partner about their decision and the future of their relationship.