Survival Tips For The Last Childless SingletonOctober 17, 2011 No Comments
Standing as the only childless single among a circle of friends can seem like a tumultuous feat as you navigate the shifting terrain of your social landscape and struggle to evade the three most dreaded questions: Are you married? Do you have kids? And, why not (you selfish, emotionally dysfunctional, irresponsible, chronically immature narcissist)? A childless single can feel like they are the last surviving player on a paint ball team, dodging undefended shots to the face in a lonely, make-shift battlefield that, not long ago, was a hell of a lot of fun. But there are methods that can be taken to combat the Molotov cocktails of criticism, unwanted sympathy, and awkward trip-ups associated with being the last childless single in your social circle.
1. Overcoming loneliness and the empty nest syndrome
Intimacy and connectivity can be found in many corners of social life, and are not dependent on romantic partnerships or the nuclear family model. The absence of a traditional family unit can, indeed, leave a childless single with a sour taste of loneliness in their mouth, and for the less experienced, it is sometimes easy to forget that ill-fitted, romantic partnerships can be incredibly lonely too. The key to avoiding the empty nest syndrome is learning to embrace the diversity of your lifestyle, and to surround yourself with people, activities, and things that bring you joy, even if they don’t fit into a traditional framework. Pets can offer meaningful companionship, as can married friends, nieces and nephews, and the elderly widow who lives next door who incessantly bitches about “young people today” while sweetly rejecting the notion that you are one.
2. Overcoming the “you just don’t get it” mentality
Childless singles may regularly find themselves being reminded that they “just don’t get it” regarding the intricacies of marriage, the responsibility of child rearing, and the immeasurable bliss induced by babies and the commitment of a solid partner. Repetitively hearing these messages can feel alienating and can lead to unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption. Aside from finding solace among others who remain foot loose and fancy free, childless singles should tenderly nurture at least one relationship with a divorcee and/ or single parent. People who have surpassed the orthodox construct of marriage and kids have often been stripped of cultural idealisms surrounding domestic life, and can have diverse and valuable perspectives to share. They also have the ability to offer invigorating relief from cultural pressures that push narrow notions of what a fulfilling life entails.
3. Overcoming identity crisis, particularly the feminine identity crisis
False images of womanhood continue to run rampant, in small social circles, in the self perpetuating machine of the media and pop culture, and in conservative ideology. These notions of what it means to be a woman are also constantly reproduced in the mind’s of young girls who are bombarded with gendered products that whisper dreams of marriage, motherhood, aesthetic attractiveness, and possibly even bubble gum pink sport cars. However, these conceptions about what it means to be a woman do not reflect many women’s experiences. Overcoming this female identity crisis is about drop kicking outdated ideas of what it means to be a happy, fulfilled, socially valuable woman, and redefining our feminine identities with a self accepting, wide open bear hug.
The life of the childless single can be a meaningful adventure of unique opportunities, self exploration, and rich social experiences, and it doesn’t require long winded, explanatory defenses or explanations, even if some people still believe it does. It isn’t singleness or childlessness that causes unfulfillment, it’s the bogus myth that childless singles should feel unfulfilled, and this outdated, cultural script needs to be replaced, not only with self acceptance, but with lifestyle acceptance too. So next time your married friend tells you a story about the adorable thing her 4 year old son said, lavish that slice of childhood innocence from the outside looking in, and then raise your head high, and with the utmost of sincerity say, “Now let me tell you about my cats . . . ”
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