Welcome to the latest episode of The F Word at Work to mark World Childless Week 2023 and in this conversation you’ll be hearing firstly from our expert speaker, Katy Schnitzler founder of MIST Workshops about the research she’s been doing around the childless community and the conversations we’ve been facilitating together. Our first guest is anonymous as she is sharing an extremely personal account of how she wasn’t able to have a child – which was part of a session Fertility Matters at Work hosted for Zurich Insurance, we then spoke with Dr Robin Hadley an experienced early-career researcher renowned for his expertise in the intersection of male childlessness and the aging process.
What we discussed:
- Dealing with expectations of how life would be – Marriage, expectations, and pressures to have children.
- Emotional strain, arguments, and discussions about starting a family.
- Feeling pressure due to colleagues’ pregnancy announcements.
- Enduring years of abusive behavior due to her desire to have a child.
- Escaping an abusive marriage at the age of 40.
- Finding a new partner and experiencing pregnancy loss.
- Repeated miscarriages, emergency surgeries, and medical searches for answers.
- Experiencing physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion.
- Coping with colleagues’ questions and well-intentioned but insensitive advice.
- Challenges of sharing personal struggles at the workplace.
- Recognizing the need for a voice for those involuntarily childless.
- Encountering a lack of understanding and insensitive comments.
- Advocating for sensitivity and understanding towards those who are childless.
- Acknowledging the need for proactive support within organizations.
- Highlighting the impact of infertility and childlessness on individuals’ lives.
- Encouraging organizations to embrace inclusivity and support for diverse life circumstances
- Dr. Robin Hadley shared his expertise in social gerontology, male childlessness, and aging.
- The rarity of having an in-person podcast recording compared to virtual conversations.
- The significance of World Childlessness Week and the importance of discussing male perspectives on childlessness and aging.
- Statistics about childlessness: One in four men and one in five women are childless, projected rise in childlessness among the over-65 population.
- The concept of “non-category” childlessness and the lack of recognition in academia and policy.
- Factors contributing to childlessness: partner choice, partner changing, timing of relationships, events, and economics.
- Differentiating between “child-free” and “involuntary childlessness.”
- The impact of societal norms on men’s emotional expression and vulnerability.
- Men’s fear of humiliation and societal conditioning around masculinity.
- Disenfranchised grief related to involuntary childlessness and the lack of recognition of this type of grief.
- The emotional challenges and lack of narrative for men experiencing childlessness.
- The association of parenthood and how it’s often focused on women, leaving men with limited narratives.
- The impact of childlessness on the workplace, including assumptions, responsibilities, and biases.
- Potential issues for childless men in the workplace: filling in for others with children, lack of recognition, and increased workload.
- Lack of recognition of men’s fertility challenges, even in their 30s and 40s.
- Workplace considerations for childless men: acknowledging their experiences, offering support, and addressing their unique needs.
- Men’s tendency to research and find information as a way to engage in conversations.
- The need for workplaces to recognize and accommodate childless men’s emotional experiences and struggles.
- The changing narrative around fertility and childlessness, but the ongoing challenges in workplace awareness and support.
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