Are More Professional Women Choosing to Start A Family...Minus the Man?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Greetings Divas! Let's talk! Over the past few weeks, I have had conversations with 5 different women on 5 different occasions on the topic of having children. Each of these 5 women are professionals, and have achieved a great amount of success in their respective professions. They are all smart, beautiful, at least 30 years old, and single. And here is where our discussions got interesting. Each one of these women is contemplating having children without having a significant other.

Here's the thing...many of these women, like myself, decided to complete all of their schooling and establish themselves in there chosen professions prior to getting married and starting a family. Now, depending on your career path, schooling can take some time. Take my doctor friend for example. She graduated from college at age 21, obtained her Masters in Public Health at age 23, earned her medical degree at age 28, and finished her residency at age 32. Somewhere between her Masters and medical programs, she broke up with her longtime boyfriend...he wanted to get married and start a family right away, and she wanted to finish school first...they parted ways amicably. She is now 34 and working as a pediatrician. She is fabulousness personified! She is also single, and ready to have children "without a man." When I asked her to elaborate, she said, "Lex, I'm a doctor. I am fully aware of the risks of having children past the age of 35. I am not J.Lo, or Halle Berry, or any other celebrity, and I am not interested in having children in my forties. Yes, I'm single, but I have the love and the means to provide for a child, and I'm ready! With or without a baby daddy!" I hear you girl! 

And then there's my lawyer friend who graduated from college at 22, graduated from medical school at 26, and graduated from a JD/Public Health program at 30. She is now 33, and works in-house at a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical company. She has never really had a long term boyfriend because she was fully focused on her education and career. She too has told me that she is working on starting a family without a boyfriend or husband on the horizon. She said, "Girl I'm getting old! I'm ready to have babies and I'll find the man later. I gotta get started before my eggs dry up!"

The sentiment amongst the other ladies are the same. They have all achieved success in their professional lives, but they have found themselves creeping towards 35 with no male prospects on the immediate horizon. Like they have done with their careers, these women are deciding to take their maternal lives in their own hands, and are not waiting for the boyfriend or husband to start their family. This is a common occurrence with professional women who have reached the age of 30, and who have not had children. 

While there are many professional women who have chosen to pursue their careers before starting a family, there are many who disagree with this approach. One professional woman has said to me that women are well aware of the ticking of their biological clock, and should be receptive to starting a family even when it may temporarily interfere with their career ambitions. She thinks that these women should "take a break" and start their family before it gets too late. She is especially unsympathetic (her words, not mine) to women who had a significant other willing and ready to commit and start a family, and chose her career path instead. While this woman's stance may seem antiquated in the age of the independent woman, there are many who share this view. As a woman who did wait until she was done with her schooling to get married and start a family, I don't personally agree with this woman and those who share this view...but I do respect and understand their opinion.

Personally, I am glad I made the choice to finish school and start my career before marriage and children. I am more mature and better able to contribute to my household because I am gainfully employed in a position that I could only have attained if I finished school. Additionally, I am better equipped, both financially and mentally, to provide for a child...much more so than I was when I was 24 with a whole gang of young and fresh eggs. If I had the option, I would not have made a different choice. But my story is a little different from the 5 women I have had these conversations with...I am married, and I have someone with whom I intend to start a family, albeit a little later in life than others (I'm 31). So what about those women who took a similar education and career path as me, and who are in their peak baby-bearing years? Isn't it okay for them to start a family of two? I say go for it! But am I in the minority?
The truth of the matter is that we have moved into a different era where we have more female CEOs, CFOs, doctors, lawyers, educators, etc. who are at the top of their game than ever before. This is also an era where more and more successful, professional, single women are purposely choosing to be single parents. This is a stark change from how things were done when my parents were coming up, but does that make the choice wrong? It seems to me that this choice is gaining steam amongst professional women, and soon may not be so unusual. 

In sum, I am completely supportive of my fellow Professional Divas who choose to finish school and start their careers before starting a family. I am also supportive of women who are making the conscious choice to start their family sans the man. This may not be the choice of the masses, but since when have we as women been ones to conform.

My questions to you all are: Which side of the fence do you lie? How do you feel about women who are choosing to become single parents? What are your thoughts on women who chose education and career over marriage and family? Let me know!


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