What NOT to Say to Someone Struggling with Motherhood Indecision

fatherhood motherhood parenthood resources Nov 29, 2016


Women who can’t answer the question, “Do you want to be a mom?” or “When are you going to have children?” loathe, abhor, detest and - to put it simply - hate when this question is asked. Most of these women feel bad that they don’t know or can’t decide. No one chooses to be undecided “for the fun of it.” It is a complete myth that all women just know. What may be truer is that many women were conditioned to not even think about it. The examples we have of women moving in one direction or another without consideration of their own desire may look like they just know. But many just know because they were never encouraged to ask the question, “Is Motherhood for me?”

There are many misunderstandings about what will be helpful to a woman struggling with indecision on this issue. When someone says, “Oh, yes, being a mom is hard but it’s worth it because there is nothing like it,” doesn’t address at all that another women may not want to be a parent or would not experience motherhood the same way. And while it is true that children are truly amazing, that doesn’t mean all women will want to raise them.

Of course, for many, spending time with a baby or a young person can be amazing. To be around that kind of growth and learning and energy can be truly astonishing! That doesn’t mean one has to be a parent. There are many young ones available to spend time with in order to experience such delight. Just because you enjoy children doesn’t mean you should be a parent or should desire parenthood. And on the other hand, just because you don’t enjoy children doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t be a parent or that you don’t want to be a parent.

Just as it is true both that children are wonderful and that being a parent isn’t everyone’s desire, it can also be true both that one woman is grateful she decided to have a child while another is grateful she decided not to have a child.

When we experience something for ourselves as “the best ice cream ever” or “the best diet that really works” or “the best feel-good movie” or “the religion that speaks to everyone” our enthusiasm for the experience turn into wanting everyone else to experience it, too. BUT…...one person’s experience is not another person’s experience. It’s one thing to share an experience if someone expresses interest, but it’s another thing entirely to assume that another person will have your same experience.

Deciding whether or not to become a mother in the 21st century is particular and unique to each person who is making that decision and NO ONE can tell a woman what is right for her.

So, when speaking to someone struggling with the decision to have children or live a childfree life:


  • Don’t judge.

  • Don’t assume you know what is best.

  • Don’t say, “Just do it. You’ll love it. It’ll all be fine. Everyone is afraid at first.”

  • Don’t say, “If you don’t just know, that’s a sign you shouldn’t do it.”



  • Do be kind.

  • Do offer an ear without your opinion.

  • Do hold out that both paths are good and both are challenging

  • Do trust that she will find her truth and only she can know her truth.

  • Do assume she is in pain and desperately wants clarity.

  • Do let her know it’s ok to ask for professional help and that she is not broken.

  • Do remember no one chooses indecision for the fun of it.

  • Do reassure her that she is not alone and that many women don’t know.