Should we Consider a Day to Celebrate Non-Parents?


I recently heard the terms “non-Mother’s Day” and “non-Father’s Day.” My initial reaction was confusion. I have been thinking about it since Mother’s Day is behind us and Father’s Day is quickly approaching. What does this really mean?

I believe these terms were meant for us to take a moment to consider the people who are childfree. There are many people in this group. It includes people who tried to have a child, and were unable to. It also includes the people who have made a conscious choice not to become parents, for whatever reason. It also includes people in the midst of infertility treatment, and those waiting for an adoptive child, or foster child, to become a part of their lives.

Our culture seems to have put a very high premium on parenthood, regardless of whether we do it well or not. Those of us who struggled with infertility, risk everything to become parents, because it is a strong personal, or biological desire. This is also true of adoptive and foster care families who make sacrifices. There are holidays, businesses, and media pushes, built around family, and designated days to celebrate revered roles, such as mother, father, and grandparent.

I believe it is fair to say that some people are negatively judged for choosing not to become parents. It is perceived as a counter-culture, or aberrational choice. I strongly feel that it is wrong to make this judgement. I came close to being childfree by choice. If my last attempt at in vitro fertilization failed, I had made the decision to remain childfree. Adoption was not an option for my husband and myself.

Is a couple any less of a family because they don’t have children? My answer is no. Family constellations are complex. They can be made up of relatives, including extended family, and dear friends. I am lucky to have people like that in my life, and I am so grateful they are there.

I was an aunt at a time, when I didn’t think being a mother was even possible for me. My feelings for my nieces were very maternal. I loved them, and helped take care of them. I took great delight when I individually took them on our special weekends when they were growing up. We all loved it when people assumed they were my children. My niece played along when she was told how much she looked like me. We smiled and said thank you, when people told me what a beautiful daughter I had.

There are many relationships where we show maternal or paternal feelings, without being a mother or father. Oprah Winfrey famously opened her school in Africa, and calls the students there “my girls.” We don’t celebrate or honor those relationships enough, even though they are strong and very meaningful for the people that we share them with. They are an important part of our culture and our world. Many people who don’t have children of their own volunteer their time and energy to help child-related causes.

We live in a time where the definition of families is ever-changing. The traditional definition of a family being a mom, dad, and kids has been revised in our present day world. Today the definition of a family, thankfully, is inclusive, and can mean whatever you want it to. It includes any constellation of one or more people made up of any gender, ethnicity, and religious, or non-religious background.

I support the idea that we should celebrate these diverse and positive relationships in our lives. It offers the opportunity for inclusion, universal acceptance, and diversity. It enriches us in a myriad of ways. Perhaps we would take it on ourselves to regularly celebrate these amazing relationships. The people who do not have children of their own, need to be celebrated as much as those of us that do. We don’t necessarily have to choose a specific day to honor them. What we need to acknowledge is how important they are to us on a day to day basis and how lucky we are to have them as a part of our lives. Maybe we should create our own unique cards for them to let them know how special they are. So happy belated Mother’s Day, Happy Father’s Day, and Happy Non-Parents Day to you all.

Iris Waichler, MSW, LCSW has been a licensed clinical social worker for over 40 years. Ms. Waichler authored “Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster: A Guide to Educate and Inspire” which won 4 major book awards including best book of the year from Mom’s Choice and NAPPA. Her new book, “Role Reversal How to Take Care of Yourself and Your Aging Parents is an Indie Best Book Finalist for best book of 2016. Her website is http://iriswaichler.com/

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