Is a Woman Less of a Woman If She Decides Never to Have Kids?

Sportscaster Pam Oliver inspires a new book and asks the hard question many professional women face: Am I a failure if I don't have children?

The Barranness

Sonja Lewis's new novel explores life without children

Is a woman any less of a woman if she never has kids?

It may sound like a silly question to some, but for longtime friends and journalists Pam Oliver and Sonja Lewis, it’s one they spent many years trying to answer.

Oliver, a popular on-air broadcaster for Fox Sports, and Lewis, a former newspaper reporter and the author of the new aptly-titled novel The Barrenness, say they each did some serious soul-searching before deciding NOT to give birth—even though, in many ways, the decision had already been made for them.

“We both suffered from fibroids,” shares Oliver, who serves as an inspiration for Lewis’ thought-provoking book about a successful woman who is attempting to define her own happiness, with or without kids. Both Oliver and Lewis got married in their late 30s. “Mine was a particularly terrible case,” says Oliver, a stepmother of three. “By my late 30s/early 40s, my thought was, ‘I don’t think that it’s going to be.’ It would have been a medical miracle if I had been able to get pregnant. Still, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility,” she says. “In the end, though, as hard as it was to watch the door close, I didn’t fight very hard to keep it open.”

Oliver says this was largely because she was satisfied with nearly every other aspect of her life, including a high-profile career, constant traveling and tight bonds with friends and family. She, like Lewis, who is also a stepmom, opted not to undergo painful surgeries or empty their bank accounts on expensive fertility treatments. Instead, they each embraced that eternal empty-nest syndrome. It’s a decision neither woman regrets, even with the various societal pressures and stigmas that stem from being childless by a certain age.

FOX News Sportscaster Pam Oliver inspired 'The Barranness'

“I went to a class reunion two years ago, and when the topic of kids came up it was a bit awkward,” says Lewis. “People just don’t understand it. They don’t believe that I am happy. They were still saying to me, at age 47, ‘Oh girl, it’s not too late,’ and I am like, ‘I don’t think so, honey.'”

Still, Oliver does admit innocent questions can sometimes still make her feel like a bit of a failure, despite the reality that one in every five women beyond childbearing age in the United States do not have kids, according to the Pew Institute.

“The conversation is usually so frustrating to me,” she says. “It’s like I get this thing in my stomach. It’ll start off great with something like, ‘We saw you on TV the other day,’ and then [segue into], ‘Do you have kids?’ and I’ll say ‘no.’ That’s the part where I feel like I almost have to apologize, like this is the part where I disappoint you.”

Although her book The Barranness is fiction,  Lewis says she wants readers, particularly women, to know the message is true: You are no less of a woman if you don’t procreate.

“I wanted to set the record straight, dispel the myth around not having kids,” the author says of her critically acclaimed offering. “Motherhood is fantastic; but even if you’re not a mother, you can still be fulfilled as a woman.”

CELEBRATING 10 YEARS! Join us for the landmark 10th Annual Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit hosted by State Farm, March 2—4, 2015, at Fort Lauderdale Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, Fort Lauderdale, FL. This exciting, one-of-a-kind executive leadership summit is designed to train, equip and encourage women to become industry leaders, learn career strategies, and discover proven work—life balance techniques. Register Now!

  • Jamie

    In spite of the fact that I have two nearly grown children, consider motherhood an important part of my identity, always wanted to have children and spent years wishing I’d had more, I now believe that I could have had a fulfilled life without children–or marriage. When I was a young woman, the message was clear: A woman had to be married and have children, and I made both of those goals my own. But now that I am older and have been more exposed to what life has to offer, I believe marriage and motherhood are great options, but they aren’t the only ones, and they aren’t necessary for fulfillment. And that’s OK.

    The title of the book, though, suggests that childlessness is a loss–a barrenness, an emptiness. Perhaps on some level that is what the author really believes.

    • Women Are Gamechangers

      Jamie I agree that having kids or not is an option. NO one should feel like a failure in whatever choice they make.

  • Women Are Gamechangers

    Not every one wants kids to be satisfied with their life. I’m one of them. I love kids especially when I get to have fun hanging out with my nephews, cousins, friends kids, etc and then send them home. I like being in a relationship and my career more than wanting to be a mom. To all the women who have kids or want them, I applaud them for their decision and I wish they respect those of us who choose not to have biological children.

  • Pingback: UPTOWN Magazine » LOTD: Rihanna “You Da One” Video + Woman, No Kids = Failure? » UPTOWN Magazine()

  • Cafeuzuri

    I understand the concept of the article. I also completely empathize and agree that having children – or entering into marriage – should not define your womanhood. But aren’t the two women stepmoms? I find this to be a completely different feeling from that of a women who gave birth to no children AND does not have stepchildren.

  • Sateria

    This is such a genuine, heartfelt article. Ladies, thanks for sharing. Through The Fibroid Initiative, I too am sharing my personal experience in hopes that there will be more options as well as understanding. All the best!

  • I believe everything posted made a great deal of sense. But, think on this, suppose you were to create a awesome title? I am not saying your information is not good., but suppose you added something to possibly grab a person’s attention? I mean Is a Woman Less of a Woman If She Never Has Kids? – Black Enterprise is a little vanilla. You should look at Yahoo’s home page and note how they create article headlines to grab viewers to click. You might add a related video or a related pic or two to get readers interested about what you’ve written. In my opinion, it might make your blog a little livelier.

  • It is the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!

  • I am not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  • telefon samsung

    Normally I don’t learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thank you, quite nice post.

  • Jenise

    I can understand what these two women are going through. In my case, I have heart and lung condition since I was born. I’ve already told my mother when I was in 9th grade and again few months ago that I would never give birth to children. My reason was my health, second was my financial situation. I can’t afford to take care of a child if I’m still living with my parent as of this moment. Not only that, I rather adopt a child that wants a loving home and family that love them unconditionally than to go through child birth. Before I can adopt, I want to stand on my own two feet and have one full time job and part time job to save up on some money, finish college, career and have tough backbone.

  • What i don’t realize is if truth be told how you’re not really a lot more neatly-preferred than you might be right now. You’re so intelligent. You understand thus considerably relating to this topic, produced me in my view consider it from numerous numerous angles. Its like women and men aren’t involved unless it?¦s something to do with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs nice. All the time deal with it up!

  • Blackberry iPhone

    You really make it appear so easy together with your presentation however I in finding this topic to be really something that I believe I would never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely huge for me. I’m having a look ahead in your next post, I’ll try to get the hold of it!

  • appliance repair falls church va

    Terrific paintings! This is the type of information that should be shared around the internet. Disgrace on the seek engines for no longer positioning this publish upper! Come on over and seek advice from my site . Thanks =)

  • Aniston

    Hi, Neat post. There is an issue together with your site in internet explorer, would check this? IE still is the market leader and a good component to folks will leave out your wonderful writing due to this problem.

  • Caldwell

    Whats up, great web page. I really like your layout. I simply ended cosmetic school and would like to start-up my blog page. Thanks for the great publish!

  • posicionamiento web

    I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts in this sort of area . Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this site. Reading this info So i’m happy to express that I’ve a very just right uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I such a lot without a doubt will make certain to do not forget this web site and give it a look on a continuing basis.

  • Pingback: More Educated Black Women Going Childless()