To Be A Parent Or Not

Adoption STAR Founder and CEO Michele Fried writes about the process involved in deciding whether or not one is ready to become a parent.

Michele Fried
By Michele Fried

This might not be the most popular post but it is about a topic we think about often. In our field we meet people making the decision to parent or not. It is simply those thoughts, “Am I ready and able at this time in my life to parent a child?” This is what prospective adoptive parents must process and decide. This is what pregnant women of any age and circumstance must decide. The process of choosing whether or not to become a parent is very personal.

Those who have always wanted to be a mother may not understand that some never want to parent. If you are a woman who does not desire to parent, you are no doubt exhausted by this continuous discussion on whether to be childfree or not. Even if you are pregnant, you may still not feel you wish to parent. You may choose a different path later. Readiness to parent and driven to parent may not arrive at the same time.

Whether a woman chooses to parent or not, whether they are healthy enough to parent, committed enough to parent, can still personify motherhood, by touching the life of a child or children. Sometimes it is one decision or one act that truly defines “mothering.”

To become a parent, one must view it as not just a milestone, a desire, what is expected, a right of passage or a desperate need, it should be viewed as a delight and privilege. It should never be a burden.

Maternal expressions are a part of many women and it does not mean that one must parent. Parenting is not for every woman. Not every woman is the same nor are their hopes and dreams. No one should feel any less of a woman if they do not desire to parent.

There is pressure in our society to parent, to become a mother. Because of this it is important to heed the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert shared with Oprah Winfrey, “The determination that I’ve come to is that there are three kinds of women in the world: There are women who are born to be mothers. There are women who are born to be aunties. And there are women who should not be allowed to be within 10 feet of a child.” Gilbert who has chosen the “auntie camp” loves children incredibly but has chosen not to parent.

One of my favorite poems is by Janice LaRosa, an adoptive mom. It is called Every Woman Is A Mother. This poem shares that whether or not you are parenting you can still make a difference in the life of a child. “Every woman is a mother when she makes a difference in just one child.”

Cheri Dew, President and CEO of Deseret Book Company, writes, “Motherhood is more than bearing children. … It is the essence of who we are as women.”

Zoe Erler, a freelance writer and editor, says, “Motherhood was never about choice to begin with. It was never intended as a calling for some and not for others… womanhood is motherhood. It always was. But not how we’ve been defining it.”

Alice von Hildebrand, a Catholic philosopher and theologian, wrote a beautiful article on the fact that she is not a parent but yet receives countless cards on mother’s day. She believes that “Motherhood is not only biological maternity. It is spiritual maternity.” She adds, “Spiritual motherhood is more important than biological motherhood. There are plenty of women who are biological mothers and yet are not mothers at all.”