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Author Karin Rahbek’s Story: A Danish perspective on choosing the childfree life

Karin Rahbek

Karin Rahbek

The feeling that motherhood is not for me has been with me for as long as I can remember. Even as a child, I thrived in adult mature company. I still do. Ordinarily, I never think about my not having children, and I do not feel that I miss them in my life. The love for my husband is more important than having children.

Since I felt so sure that I didn’t want to have children, it took a while before I realized that I had thoughts and feelings that were related to motherhood. I didn’t know any parents who had a life I would want to swap mine for, and it caught me completely by surprise that I obviously needed to do some thinking about motherhood. I sat down to take a look at the many facets of making such a different choice, and my book “Do I have to be a mother? – a childfree woman’s honest and unspoken thoughts and feelings” is what came out of it.

I had reached that classic point in life: I was married, we had bought a house together and my job was great. The next natural step would be having a child. But instead, I got this very strong feeling of being different, almost like an identity crisis. My family relationships had changed considerably too. My cousin decided to end his long-term relationship with his girlfriend, because she didn’t want to have children. At the same time my-sister-in law gave in to her husband’s desire to have a child. My sister and my sister-in-law both got pregnant at the same time. Shortly after, my cousin and his girlfriend got back together and she got pregnant too. A baby has filched all my girlfriends, my sister and my sister-in-law, and I am happy on their behalf. But in my gut it still feels like a rejection of our adult friendship.

Now I see that many of my thoughts and feelings were silly. At the time when I was uncertain about my choice, I was highly inclined to pay attention to what other people thought about my situation, rather than taking my own position. Now I find it scary that I have been so emotionally affected by society’s expectation that women should be mothers.

I used to be very defensive about my choice. In the process, I became more settled and the need to justify and defend my lifestyle disappeared. Most of the time we are not criticized for our choice because it is terrible, but simply because it is different. My decision makes parents feel confronted by their choice of having children, and that causes them to reflect on their own lifestyle. Their questions and comments are not all about me. As we all know, the best defense is often disguised as an attack.

When we choose to defend our childfree lifestyle, we open our choices to debate, and when we do not find any acceptance, it hits our weak spot. To get rid of the taboo surrounding our lifestyle, we must be honest about it and keep explaining our choice of lifestyle.

I hope that my book can help provide a more nuanced picture of what it feels like to be a childfree woman in a society so focused on starting families. If the book might also foster greater understanding and acceptance – on the part of those who would question a woman’s choice – of motherhood as a voluntary decision, it will be a tribute to tolerance and a victory for diversity.

Karin Rahbek has become a spokeswoman for childfree women in Denmark. She is based just outside the capital of Copenhagen. Her book: “Do I have to be a mother? – a childfree woman’s honest and unspoken thoughts and feelings” is available on Amazon as Kindle, Kindle Unlimited and paperback. You can also visit the book’s website at: www.childfreewoman.com.

Would you like to share your story? Send it to: [email protected]

Comments

  1. Thanks Karin for sharing your story. And what an inspiring one it is too! I wish you well with the book.

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