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Childless woman. Unfulfilled child wish

Over 50 and Childless: The Truth About Choosing Not to Have Children! Regrets, or no Regrets? (April 2019).


To deal with unwanted childlessness is a life task. Says the psychologist and systemic family therapist Heike Stammer. She has written a psychological guide for couples whose desire for having their own child has not come true.

Prof. Dr. Heike Stammer

How long does it take for a woman to accept, "Yes, I am a childless woman"?
This is almost always a year-long process. Even after several unsuccessful IVF attempts, there is often a hint of hope left. The medical findings are rarely so in a woman that a pregnancy can be completely ruled out. In addition, reproductive medicine is constantly evolving. New forms of treatment (many of which are banned in Germany, but which can be carried out abroad when the funds are available), lead to considerations as to whether there is still a chance. And if the man is clearly sterile, at least theoretically, the question arises as to whether the partner could have a biological child with the help of another partner or a donor sperm donation. The final adoption of childlessness begins for most women until the menopause.
So it's not even done that way?

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No. I would like to show how difficult the acceptance is with the following example: Imagine a 37-year-old woman who has already had several unsuccessful reproductive medical treatments and then reads in the press that Halle Berry became pregnant at the age of 46. Such reports are often very distressing for sufferers, because they dispute the idea that pregnancy can be done at any time, with appropriate efforts, which is definitely not the case. For Germany, every second woman undergoing reproductive medicine treatment remains permanently childless.

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When does the bereavement phase end?

Mourning work has to be done again and again. Any baby born in the environment is potentially reminiscent of their own suffering. When the girls' children graduate from high school or become parents themselves, many childless children feel again excluded from something important in life. Some women, over time, are very well able to give meaning to their lives through other projects and confidently enjoy the benefits of their child-free life. It is much harder for others.

Is the grief for the never-born child underestimated by friends and family?

We all wish to be less vulnerable. We can often endure suffering from others hard. How much one mourns for the unfulfilled desire for a child depends on many factors: how pronounced the parenting belongs to one's own concept of life, which other possibilities are there to realize how much other losses and failures have been processed in the past, how satisfying the partnership and other areas of life are experienced. But it also plays a role in how strongly the environment is dominated by children: in large cities, childless women and couples are a part of normality. In rural areas, many feel that they are failing when they can not meet the standard of starting a nuclear family, because it means being excluded from many social activities, such as having a shared afternoon on the playground or cheering on the football field.

Often women feel pressured to finally conclude with the topic …
This is very understandable, because the friends, the family do not want to witness the suffering of the woman anymore. There are often situations in which everyone feels uncomfortable. Everyone has the feeling that they have to constantly control themselves in order not to step into a "faux pas". Many women resolve these tensions by withdrawing, which in turn amplifies their inner distress, because the distraction of activities with others is lacking.

How can parents and childless people meet each other better?
Unfortunately there is no patent solution. The best thing is still to talk to each other and the other, to tell others how you felt in a particular situation. So, understanding grows for each other. It is almost always a great relief for all, if the topic and the associated pain are not taboo topics, but may appear in the common everyday life.

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