Becoming a single mother by choice goes against society’s script. When you announce that you are planning to start a family on your own, you might be disappointed by the response you receive.
Why don’t your friends and family want you to have a baby on your own? Can’t they see that having a child will be a wonderful and joyful addition to your life?
It’s a new concept to them
I still remember when I got my first tattoo as a teenager and my grandfather saw it. He was shocked, even horrified. In his generation a “good girl” would never dream of getting a tattoo. But you know what? He came around. He just needed a little time to adjust.
A similar pattern can occur when a woman tells members of previous generations that she is considering becoming a single mother by choice (SMC). SMCs are something that older generations have possibly never even heard of. It is only natural that it might take them some time to warm up to the idea.
Think about it — were you even completely happy with the idea initially? Or did you need time to get over your unfulfilled dream of finding “Mr. Right”? While your family won’t necessarily need to grieve the fact you haven’t found Mr. Right, they might need to revise their hopes and dreams for your future.
Your father might have dreamt of walking you down the aisle, for example. It might seem silly, but something as simple as realizing he might never get to “give his daughter away” can cause an initial emotional reaction of disappointment.
Parenting is hard with two people!
If whoever you have shared your plans with is a parent, they might be dumbfounded that you would ever consider taking on something as hard as parenthood solo. Parenting can be hard. Your parents’ mouths might drop open in shock when you tell them you plan to start a family on your own — because they immediately have flashbacks to the sleepless nights they had raising you.
If they struggled to raise their children, your relatives may have trouble separating out their past experiences from what your future experiences might be like. The thought of parenting alone might be a nightmare to them. They might think they would never have been able to survive single parenting.
Previous associations with single motherhood
Just like happily partnered parents can’t imagine parenting without their partner, single mothers by chance often can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would want to parent solo. If someone became single through a messy breakup or abandonment, they may have been thrust into a difficult financial and emotional situation against their will. They will likely have experienced trauma as a result.
They may have unresolved feelings of anger and despair about having become a single parent by chance. Naturally then, if you bring up something they associate with deep personal pain, of course they would initially think you are about to make a big mistake.
Even people who have not themselves experienced becoming a single parent by chance may have known people who had a difficult experience in that realm. They might also believe all the negative stereotypes on TV and in pop culture about single parents.
They don’t want you to experience hardship
If you think about it, all these concerns come from a good place. Your friends and family care about you. They want to protect you from hardship. They don’t want you to struggle. They want you to be happy.
When faced with less than enthusiastic reactions to your plans, it helps to remember that if someone is worried about you, that means they care about you. Your job is to reassure your friends and family that you have thought things through. Sharing how you have considered the pros and cons of this path and developed practical plans will go a long way towards reassuring them.
You might need their help
Another potential reason for a less than enthusiastic response is self-preservation. Your friends and family might fear that you will need their help. This reaction is especially common from the parents of single mothers by choice.
Parents who finally have an empty nest, who may have just retired, may be very concerned by the thought that their daughter might need to move back in with a baby in tow. That idea can be terrifying to them. If they are on a fixed income they may not be able to afford any unplanned expenses. Finances aside, substantially supporting their daughter and grandchildren is not exactly in line with a retirement of freedom, leisure, and relaxation.
How you can bring your friends and family around
First, simply give them time to adjust. Share some articles about the trend of single motherhood by choice. Explain your reasoning and thought process. Show them how you plan to take care of your child independently. Express thanks that they are concerned for your wellbeing, and then shift the focus to all the positives of having a child.
In the vast majority of cases, the above tactics will help your friends and family come around. If they are still not supportive of your choice, remember to set boundaries.
Sometimes friends and family think that they have a right to participate in your decision making because you don’t have a partner. They think they get to weigh in. But you are the one who is in charge of your reproductive decisions, not them. If you have to, don’t be afraid to remind them that it is your life and your decision.
Frances Ruiz is an award-winning author, senior software engineer, and proud single mother by choice! francesruiz.com