Is being a parent synonymous with maturity?

By Nina Steele 

I wrote an article a few days ago entitled: How does it feel to be the only one without children in your family? As a response to the article a twitter user replied: “Like I will never be a “real” adult” . That got me thinking about this perennial issue of equating parenthood with maturity.

I think it is fair to say that a great number of people with or without children will find the suggestion that having children automatically makes you more mature, laughable. Not just because most of us have come across people who should never have been allowed near children, let alone become parents, but also, it does not take a scientist to realise that maturity is multidimensional, and does not just rest on one experience.

My own experience of going through nine years of trying to conceive and then making the decision to live as a non-parent, has helped me grow as a person in ways that I never anticipated. Then there are the other experiences that we all go through: work, relationships, without mentioning the trials and tribulations that every human being will go through at some point in their lives. Being a parent is just one aspect of the myriad of experiences and it by no means is the most important.

As Kim Cattrall so rightly put it in her interview on woman’s hour, you don’t need to be a parent to experience what it takes to be one. If you have nephews and nieces, or are involved with your friends’ children or any other children, chances are that you would have been privy to some of their innermost thoughts and issues, just like parents do.

I think it is fair to say that this idea of equating maturity with parenthood has now been discredited. Both concepts are definitely not interchangeable. To be mature is far more than that. I don’t have to look far to find examples to corroborate my assertion, and most people don’t either.

If I were to define what makes a person mature I would say that, to be mature is to understand life and all its complexities. To have a certain understanding of the different cultures and people who make up our world. To understand how we can reconcile our own dreams and aspirations with that of the whole. To understand that life is about every living things, not just us human beings. In short, to be knowledgeable.

That to me is what it means to be mature, and becoming a parent certainly doesn’t automatically make you one.

First published on May 4, 2016

Childless by choice


  1. nuttyalmond says

    Giving up the dream of having children,that’s a big decision and that takes a very mature person.
    As for being a “real” adult,that’s someone who lives the life they want,makes choices that matter in their life regardless of having children.

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