What appears in our mid-thirties then reappears in our mid-sixties and affects people whether they are men, women, young or old, whatever ethnic origin or sexual orientation, wherever they live?
The expectation to have children in our lives and in our family.
Children can bring joy, but to an increasing number, the lack of children in their lives is bringing negativity, not just from the missing small person, but from the attitudes of big people – “it is seen as a deficit” to not have children.Ageing Without Children is an issue has resonated with many people since Kirsty Woodard wrote a blog in the Guardian in April last year.
Childlessness has links with ageism, racism, sexism and homophobia – but there is a new phobia here – a fear of the childless. Ageing Without Children is a new initiative, brought to life by a group of passionate and articulate people who all bring their own perspectives on this issue. Since they set up (within the last year) they have received increasing media coverage and great support from the Beth Johnson Foundation and others, leading to last week’s event in east London, where they brought together people and organisations who want to find solutions to the stigma attached to being childless in today’s society.
They now want to hear from people who are ageing without children themselves, or from organisations who are helping them. Your insights will help this young organisation to choose its goals.
For example, is this an issue that people or people in power could do something about? When asked what one thing could government do, the answer from the panel at the conference was simple, and links to the need to better understand the problems faced by those at risk of loneliness in our own publication, Promising Approaches, launched on the same day: “government currently relies on the children of older parents to care for them, but it doesn’t know how many people are ageing without children. It needs to know the extent of the problem – we don’t currently know how many men are childless – we only ask women – we can’t base future policy on half of the population”.
It is this population-wide measurement of the risk factors of loneliness (ageing without children is one of them) that we at the Campaign are also calling for, and a commitment to start with the individual and their personal circumstances would include not making the assumption that someone who is isolated has close family to call on for help.
For more information about Ageing Without Children and to fill in their survey visit: http://awoc.org/survey/
This article has had 4 comments
Ageing without children, does not always mean that you have not had children in your lives.
Ageing without grandchildren is equally painful. When you have been a parent and am also a grandparent and those chains of connection have been broken this makes life very lonely and painful in older age.
Although I have 2 children in their 40s, life has found me living many miles away from them. However, this does make it so much easier for me than for those who do not have children/grandchildren in their lives and my heart really does go out to them.
I am new to this website and first came on it to find out what I can do in my area because I am so lonely. However, I am finding that there seems to be an awful lot of political and statistical content, which I’m afraid I don’t find interesting. I would like to make friends in my area but I don’t know where to look. I have tried the library and I have found a couple of clubs but these are made up of lovely people who already have their friends. I’m new to the area and would like to meet up with other lonely people – I can’t advertise for a Lonely People Club because we are too ashamed to admit we are so lonely.
Would it be an idea for this website to have a section whereby we could put our post code in and link up with others who are lonely. Just a cup of tea/coffee and a general chat. There doesn’t seem to be anything out there like this. Could I start one in South Birmingham?
Thank you very much for your feedback. You might be interested in a number of other websites that provide more of an online – and offline – opportunity to meet and chat to other people, some in your area and some not.
These include the Community Network Loneliness Forum (http://communitynetworkprojects.org/loneliness-forum/), Gransnet (not just for grandparents! http://www.gransnet.com/), Gransnet Local (http://local.gransnet.com/birmingham-sutton-coldfield – more opportunity for meeting up) and DropBy (http://www.dropby.co.uk/).
I hope these are more like what you are looking for, please do email us if you need any other information – firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those without children – or whose children live far away and cannot help when their parents need to downsize or move into more “sensible” accommodation. I am investigating setting up a Social Enterprise that will aid people to do this.
Any thoughts would be most appreciated!
By submitting a comment you grant Campaign to End Loneliness a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate and irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion. Your email is used for verification purposes only, it will never be shared.