The unconventional happily ever after

When working with individuals around relationships, people often make the assumptions that work with couples is one therapist and two people, but a large part of the work is around singles who have/are struggling to find love. Also, there are many people who have wanted to have children but have never found the right person to have them with. Then there poses the issue of age and fertility, and what to do before it’s too late! Do you keep trying to meet someone with whom you could raise children together, or do you consider going another route?

I would love to say that there is someone for everyone and that you will meet that person. The reality is that, for some, this doesn’t happen, or they may meet them long after their fertility window has closed. A big part of my work is helping those who don’t find love in time mourn the loss of the idea of having children and live full and enjoyable lives but, for some, it’s about starting a family another way.

The idea of having children solo with assisted conception is, for some, incomprehensible, but for others it’s a means to an end. Before this can even be considered there is the question of how, who, and when? There is often the belief that it can be shameful or that it makes you a failure, as you’ve not ticked having a 'conventional' family off of your life list. The thoughts of 'what will other people say?', 'how do you explain this to a child?', or even 'how do you make sense of this for yourself?' naturally will run through your mind. Therapy is a great way to help you decide if this is right for you.

What about adoption?

Adoption is not there for anyone who cannot have children, it is there for children to be provided with a loving home (it’s not about you as the parent, per se). These children have been through trauma, regardless of how young they were when removed, and not everyone can handle that. Working with a broken attachment takes time and much effort that cannot be taken for granted. I support adoption for those who can do this, and there is no shortage of children who need loving homes, but if you want your own biological children there is no shame in this also.

Having the desire to have children for some cannot be explained to those who just don’t feel the same, you will be met with arguments like...

The world is overcrowded!

Do your bit to make the world a better place, but if you would like to dismiss your dream of having children because of the state of the world then it’s a decision that only you can decide and will need to live with.

Children need a father!

Children need a loving home with many people who love and care for them. Having a male/female role model is great. However, what is actually necessary is that the child feels love from a variety of people.

Money, money, money

Raising children is expensive. Let me repeat, raising children is expensive! It will take some planning and it would help if you had some element of financial security.

Raising a child on your own can be lonely - it’s lonely for people with partners! Getting out and about, having a strong network, and joining baby groups will help a great deal. If you feel that you might be getting postnatal depression, then speak to your GP, midwife, or health visitor. Don’t suffer alone and they will be glad to help. Asking for help early can really make a difference.

There is, of course, more to it. It’s not conventional, but being single doesn’t mean you cannot have a family, and if you’re worried about what other people will think, I would make you are sure about what you think first as that is most important. No child should feel ashamed of how they were conceived, so even if others struggle with the idea, you, as the parent, need to be clear that this is the right thing for you. If you can visualise having your grown-up child and possibly grandchildren over for dinner in years to come, and it gives you a warm, amazing feeling, then ask yourself whether anyone’s opinion is worth missing out on that!

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

I am Marilyn McKenzie and I am a qualified psychotherapist who has worked with couples, addiction, DV, young offending, grief and bereavement as well as anxiety and depression.

I am integrative in my approach but often work systemically. I have a private practise and work with relate.… Read more

Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

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