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Can Childless Women Really Relate to Motherhood?

There are a lot of opinions on how to raise children and perhaps even more on motherhood. Prior to giving birth, many women have thoughts on what bringing up babe will be like and then once they are in the trenches (say when their kid pitches an all out fit in the mall) they reconsider their original ideas. Do you think it's possible for someone who doesn't have offspring to understand what being a mom entails?


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wiphey wiphey 8 years
I'm not a mother and I voted no. I've taken care of my nieces and nephews for a full year, but in the end they go back to their parents. No matter how much you take care of someone else's children, you'll never understand what a full-time mother goes through from TTC to full term pregnancy to bonding with that child. Just my opinion, but how can a childless women relate with that?
wasabigizmobunny wasabigizmobunny 8 years
I votes "no" and I don't think "yes" votes from non-mothers should count on this one. I helped raise my brother (we were 11 years apart) and knew the ins and outs of taking care of an infant and diaper changing and all that. I also had a stepdaughter for 6 years before having my own. I took on the motherhood role and was responsible for my stepdaughter in a motherly way but birth and motherhood opened up to me a whole new realm of what it means to live and to love. I think that pregnancy and the hormones released after birth alone are sufficient evidence of a bond that is beyond "understandable". Also, if you mention sleep deprivation to any mother you know they understand what it means to keep getting up every night and wanting to do your best job even when you are exhausted. I don't think it's possible to comprehend the unyielding need to love, protect and nurture your child. It's not a rational exercise in thought or empathy. It's such a fundamentally transcendent experience.
mstrauss mstrauss 8 years
Wow, this is getting pretty heated! I thought I knew alot of answers because my sisters had children and I babysat them alot. Yes, I did learn alot from watching my sisters raise their children, but I truly feel that I didn't understand what it is to be a parent until I became one. I was prepared for alot of things, like how to change diapers and how to be so angry and frustrated with your child that you want to run away but you don't, but parenthood brought on a new level of understanding. Isn't that what this conversation is supposed to be about...understanding motherhood? In my opinion, I think that without children, you can know understand how to technically do the things that it takes to be a mother, but I don't think you can actually "UNDERSTAND" motherhood until you are a mother. On another note, I do feel that you have the right to judge someone for how they raise their children even if you don't have kids. That doesn't mean you should be spreading your negative opinions all over the world, but from my personal experience, when I didn't have a child and I was in my synagogue with a parent who would not leave the room with their screaming child while others were praying silently around her, I do believe that I had the right to say something to her about leaving the room. I did not preach to her about being disrepectful, although I thought that she was being rude by not walking out, and when she was angry with me and said "well you don't understand" my response was "Does it matter if I understand? You have the choice to leave with your loud child and that is all that matters. Deal with your parenting skills on your own time."
secrethoughts secrethoughts 8 years
I would say 99.9% of the time, the answer is no. Being a parent is more than a set of skills that can be learned. Most of the time, people without children simply don't have enough exposure to children, and they don't have the responsibility, accountability, and long term view that comes with being a parent. Like in the example a parent, you're concerned because you have to go home with a screaming child. You may be concerned that they'll be angry with you, but you may also be concerned that if you let it slide, the child will think the behavior is acceptable and do it again in the future.. a caregiver is generally more concerned with the short term, I think. However, I think in some circumstances, someone like Pallas Athena might be able to make a valid claim.
skigurl skigurl 8 years
honeybrown - you're out of line i side with pallas athena on this one
grablife365 grablife365 8 years
I do think its possible. Being a caregiver (not just one who watches a child a couple hours, though I've done that) is a lot like motherhood. I've had children come into my house and stay there. We made the decisions in these little people's lives, we love on them, treat them like they're ours. They didn't come out of me and after months we have to give them back but what is the difference? Cause they didn't stay, does that make it void? No. I don't think so. I don't have any children yet I'm pretty sure I know what its like to raise a child. The only difference with my own is that I'll give birth to them and they'll stay. " how do you know what's bad or good, when you only have other parents, not your own experience as a parent, to use as a reference?" -- I might be misunderstanding here but when you became a parent you didn't have an automatic knowledge of all things baby so you either read, or talked to other parents or handled it on your own. Caregivers even babysitters do that too. . Needless to say I voted yes. Giving birth doesn't make you mama. It's the heart that does.
msshellokitty msshellokitty 8 years
I don't think you can truly understand motherhood until you have your own.I helped take care of my sisters but when I had my own children it was completely different.You are the one who takes care of the child and does the nurturing.You can't just give the child back.It's also the same with a disabled child.My sister is disabled and I helped take care of her.My 4 month is a special needs child and it is a 100 times harder than I ever expected even though I helped take care of my sister.You just never know what to expect until you experience it for yourself.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
What's with the defensiveness? It's like saying well I play war video games so I totally know what it's like to be in combat. Babysitting is not being a parent. It's watching another person's child for a few hours and then going home. "Having a child doesn't magically turn you into some all knowing, understander of children parent" It doesn't, but this has nothing to do with the question posed. What it does is allow you the experience of motherhood that you can not get unless you have a child. There is no other way to experience motherhood without being a mother.
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 8 years
I wasn't just a babysitter. I took care of my cousins better and more than my cousin did and she still barely takes care of them. It is quite a long story and I'm too tired to keep defending myself. I don't know if the second half of your comment, HoneyBrown, is for me. I also didn't get to say those things when I was watching them, either.
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 8 years
Pallas Athena, you take care of them for a short time. You are not raising them in the long-run. You have the option of saying no when you don't want to take care of them. Give me a break. Don't even try comparing babysitting to parenting. Until you have your own, either biologically or adopted, you don't know. When I get sick, I don't get time-outs. When I don't feel like dealing with my kids, I don't get to say "No, I'm not available." If they do wrong or misbehave, no one looks at the babysitter with the reply, "It's the babysitter's fault." You have sympathy; but, you truly don't understand. As for judging parenting skills, unless you are a parent and the issue isn't egregious (e.g. child abuse, neglect), how do you know what's bad or good, when you only have other parents, not your own experience as a parent, to use as a reference?
HoneyBrown1976 HoneyBrown1976 8 years
Hellllll nooooooo they cannot!
simplystella simplystella 8 years
I voted "no"... "Helping someone else" to raise a child is not the same thing as *raise* your *own* child - and I'm saying this as a childless woman who loves children, frequently takes care of other's children and see other women raising their children ;P It's just not the same. Honestly, I think that even someone who already has children won't be 100% prepared to raise another one. It's always different, every kid is unique ;)
Pallas-Athena Pallas-Athena 8 years
I hate it when people say that just because someone isn't a parent they don't know what it is like. I may not have given birth or adopted, but I certainly understand parents and I have to say that I'm pretty darn good with helping raise children. I'm still young so I can relate to them and help find alternative ways to do things. I can cuddle, bathe, feed, teach, help, shop, and cook, but most of all I can love with all my heart like a mother/father would do with their own child.
macgirl macgirl 8 years
I had a child 10 years ago and thought I was completely prepared for anything. My 14 month old is far more challenging and often leaves me feeling like I have no idea what I'm doing. So while you can have an "idea" of what motherhood is, unless you live it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week you just can't understand the full impact of how life changing it is. And yes it's easy to judge when you aren't living the life. I find myself even doing it occasionally when I see someone with 4 kids and they are going insane.
snarkypants snarkypants 8 years
no, i don't have kids so i have no idea what parenting is like. however, just because i don't have kids, doesn't mean i can't judge parents for bad parenting skills. i hate it when people say "you don't have kids, you don't know what it's like" true, i don't know what it's like, but i do know leaving your kids unattended in a store so that the people who work there can babysit while you try on 50 pairs of jeans isn't really ideal.
meandtheo meandtheo 8 years
knew everything...not new
meandtheo meandtheo 8 years
i worked as a nanny for many years and then a kindergarten teacher, i thought i new everything about children...that was until i had one of my own. i think that my experiences helped me to better understand children and better prepared for me motherhood but in no way did i understand the true nature of being a mother.
tiasmommy tiasmommy 8 years
I would like to see a survey about full time working moms vs stay at home moms. If they can relate. I am having that problem now in real live.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
I have children and voted Yes. I have known women who do not have children of their own but are very nurturing and are great with children and childrens issues. Renee so true about having a child doesn't magically turn you into some all knowing, understander of children parent. There are too many examples of this fact out there (bad parenting, stories of abused, neglected children etc). I don't think you have to have a child or children of your own to understand motherhood.
Renees3 Renees3 8 years
I know plenty of people that don't have children of their own, but have helped raise others. And really all you have to do is listen to the news to hear about PLENTY of parents that have children but don't know the first thing about parenting. Having a child doesn't magically turn you into some all knowing, understander of children parent. Wouldn't that be nice? Granted there are plenty of things that do change when you have a child, I just don't think it's a yes or no question, it just depends.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
Until you have experienced motherhood, how can you possibly know what it entails?
Choco-cat Choco-cat 8 years
why do i suspect people who don't have children are voting Yes and people who do have children are voting No...
skigurl skigurl 8 years
just because you don't have your own child doesn't mean you haven't spent time with children, babysat children, speak to friends and family who are parents, and remember what it's like to be a child and therefore have opinions on parenting
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