How Gabrielle Union Helped Me Articulate Why 'No Kids Yet' Shaming Is Not OK
"Saying that someone failed at life because they don’t have children is disgusting."
Recently, Gabrielle Union opened up about her fertility issues. Some people have wondered why she and husband Dewayne Wade haven't started a family yet. Well, in her new book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, which hit the shelves on October 17th, 2017, Union explains, “I have had eight or nine miscarriages ... For three years, my body has been a prisoner of trying to get pregnant — I've either been about to go into an IVF cycle, in the middle of an IVF cycle or coming out of an IVF cycle.”
Union said that she never wanted kids, but that quickly changed when she became a stepmom to Wade’s two sons, Zaire and Zion. Like many women, Union is asked time after time if she wants to have kids or not.
“A lot of people, especially people with fertility issues, just say ‘no’ because that’s a lot easier than being honest about whatever is actually going on. People mean so well, but they have no idea the harm or frustration it can cause,” wrote Union.
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Well, let’s talk about the people who don't mean so well.
Before Gabby discussed her fertility issues, her Instagram and Twitter used to be flooded with negative comments about her "playing mommy" to kids that weren't hers, and people being cruel and telling her to go have her "own children." Some people even wrote that it was "too late" for her to have kids at her age. These comments were very bothersome and disgusting and it got me thinking about how "not having any kids" shaming is definitely NOT okay.
Saying that someone failed at life because they don’t have children is disgusting. Especially since you don’t know what that person is going through.
After chatting with some of my friends (who don’t have kids yet), we realized that our peers, and some family members, are starting to question when we want to have kids. Funny thing is, we are all in our early to mid-twenties and are working on ourselves and enjoying our lives — childless. And yet, people are saying things like, “Are you going to be a super-old parent?” and, “You better start having your kids now.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having children whenever you want to have them. It’s your body and your life. But when it comes down to someone questioning another and trying to make them feel bad about it, there is definitely something wrong with that. People wouldn't ask you how much you weigh or how much money you have in the bank, so why is it so easy to judge someone's fertility and childless state?
Contrary to popular belief, some women want to be established in their career before they have children, some want to be financially stable before they have children, some want to be married before they have children or some women are unable to have children because of infertility issues (like Gabrielle). And some just simply don't want any.
If you are like me and my friends, there are a combination of reasons why you don’t have children right now. Some millennials are now even afraid to have children because of all of the killings of unarmed, innocent black kids. So, there are a plethora of reasons why women don’t have children.
Who are you to set the standards or set the time frame for when it is appropriate for another woman to have a child? Mind your business.
I say all of that to say this: Some of you mean no harm when politely asking, “why don’t have kids yet?” But for the ones who are ill-mannered, remember, just as it is impolite and wrong for us to question you about having children, it is equally as offensive to ask us why we don't have any yet. On either end of the spectrum, shaming is not okay.
How to Avoid Shaming Someone During These Types of Conversations
— Avoid asking that person multiple times about kids, if you have already asked them previously.
— Avoid saying, "you're not getting any younger."
— Avoid talking about a biological clock ticking.
— Avoid saying, "you must not want children since you don't have any now."
— Don't rush them.
— Be supportive when they come to you about the topic without saying something that may offend them.
— Most importantly, let them live their own life at their own pace.
Shoutout to Gabrielle Union for being so honest and transparent in her new book. I'm sure that she is an inspiration to many women experiencing the same issues as her.