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Being childless has not lessened my ability to connect with young people

By Nina Steele 

When I was working in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), every lunch time, I would go to the nearby market, like all the other workers, to buy my lunch. On my way there, I would stop to chat to a group of street boys. They slept rough under a bridge and would wander around at busy times to beg for money.

We struck up a friendship and they looked forward to seeing me because it meant that I would give them some of the little money I had. Most people wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole, as they were often high on drugs. I treated them as if they were my little brothers and often wonder what has become of them now.

I have this natural ability to get on with young people and they find it easy to open up to me. Because of that, I am naturally more inclined to support children’s charities. I have been a child sponsor through the charity World Vision, for many years now. There is so much poverty in the world that it makes a mockery of the obsession that still exists for everyone to have children.

Every single one of us has a role to play in society. Those who have children assure continuity, while those without, contribute in other meaningful ways. It can be argued that young people face so much pressure today that the expression ‘’it takes a village to raise a child’’ has never been more accurate.

I was recently talking to a teenage girl and some of that pressure was relayed to me. She is a pretty and intelligent girl, yet she suffers from a very low self-esteem. I told her how great she was and that seemed to have lifted her spirit. Her mother later on expressed her gratitude to me. I have been in similar situations many times.

The argument that people become truly mature once they become parents could not be further from the truth. I would argue that anyone who has the ability to care for others, rather than being self-absorbed is showing signs of maturity.

Not having children of my own has not diminished my ability to connect with young people, on the contrary. Yes I am happily childless and would not have it any other way, however, I do also understand that young people are society’s future and as such playing my part in how they turn out is important.

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