The Pressure to Have Kids as a Business Owner

Before I begin with tonight’s Sunday Pep Talk, I’d like to start by saying I admire mothers immensely. I have so many friends who are business owners and mothers and are crushing it at both. I don’t think it’s a one or the other thing. You can have a business. You can have children. You can have both. You can have one. You can have none. But it’s time to discuss the immense, unreasonable, and inexcusable pressure to have kids as a business owner.

 

It’s a conversation that happens in private text messages, DMs and behind closed doors. It extends way beyond just female business owners and affects single women, married women, dating women, women without kids and even women with kids.

 

– WHERE IT COMES FROM – 

 

Sometimes the pressure can be suffocating. It comes from friends + family, clients + strangers. I’m going to break up the pressure to start a family as a business owner into two categories: people you know and people you don’t.

 

People You Know

 

While I’ve had this conversation with dozens of powerful business owners, I’m going to keep all references anonymous and share them as one collective experience. One collective story.

 

It’s easy to assume that the pressure to have kids comes from parents. And while that is true, and a very real pressure for so many, it isn’t the only source.  Having recently bought our first home, every person who has walked through our house has said, “Oh this room will make a perfect nursery!” When discussing whether to travel home for the holidays or stay here in Austin, the common response is, “When you have kids, everyone will come to you.”

 

It comes from friends. Countless times I’ve texted or called someone to deliver exciting news, their guess is always “You’re pregnant!” It makes me feel like the only news worthy of celebration is that we’re having a baby. And it wouldn’t be so startling if we were TRYING to get pregnant. But we’ve been very clear that we don’t want kids right now. And we’re not sure when we will want them.

 

It comes up at dinner with friends. At lunch with girlfriends. At business meetings and on client calls.

 

People assume because I have my own business, that I have created that for the flexibility of motherhood. Friends, parents, and grandparents have said things like, “It’s so great that you’ll be working from home to raise your kids.”

 

A) Just because I work from home doesn’t mean that I’m not working. I work 15 hour days 6 days a week.

 

B) My husband doesn’t work from home – does that mean he won’t be raising our kids?

 

C) Why do you assume that is what we want?

 

A colleague of mine who has a sweet, wonderful, bright child child shares she gets constant questions from immediate family members and strangers alike when her next baby is coming. She feels the same pressures and she already has an incredible child. Why is that not enough?

 

People You Don’t Know

 

I’ve never had a manicure without being asked when I’m having babies. I’ve stood in line at the grocery store and smiled at a mother with her baby in the cart, only to be told, “Just wait until you have one.” Since when did smiling at a baby mean that I wanted a baby?

 

It comes from doctors. Just a year after I received an IUD, my doctor told me that we needed to start trying in the next four years to get pregnant. Completely unprovoked, without expressing any desire to have children. One year after personally providing a semi-permanent contraceptive. I was so uncomfortable, I changed doctors the next day.

 

Some people say it’s worse in the South. That the measure of a woman’s success is based on her ability to produce children (and keep producing them). While it may be felt heavily in the South, I personally know women in New York City, in San Francisco, in Los Angeles that struggle with it everyday.

 

Women are made to feel guilty for not wanting children – whether that be in the present or in the future. Women are being shamed for being intentional, thoughtful and strategic about their families and lives. For living their lives the way that makes them happiest. That makes them healthy, productive, contributing members of the community. They are being shamed for wanting to enjoy their marriages, their partnerships, their friendships, their accomplishments, their missteps without having children.

 

Why It Matters

 

Firstly, it matters because not everyone has the fortune of being able to have biological children, even if they want to. Being asked these immensely personal questions for someone who is currently trying to get pregnant, is no longer able to get pregnant, have suffered miscarriages or any other slew of infertility issues – is wildly hurtful. What seems like an innocent “small talk” conversation can rip open deep wounds for so many people, and I urge you to be more considerate of how you address the topic of having children.

 

Further, in a time that woman are fighting for equality in a gender conforming culture, pressuring woman to have children or shaming them for not wanting to is only setting us back. While the feminist revolution continues to push forward, we’re living in particularly scary times. The world is at a stage of uncertainty in our political and environmental climate.

 

Now more than ever, thought and intention should be put into the type of world we want to live in and what are role in that is. For many – that may include having children. And that is a beautiful, powerful, inspiring thing. For for so many others – that means living a fulfilling adult life without children. And that’s just as beautiful, powerful and inspiring. As a society, we need to be okay with that, too.

 

Why Success is Not Defined by Having Kids

 

As a business owner, I’m helping women around the world elevate their careers to levels beyond their wildest dreams. I’m connecting entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe in a safe, supportive community. I’m learning and growing and evolving every day. I pay my taxes, I save more than I spend. I donate to charity. I help provide for my family.

 

I don’t know every step that The Identité Collective is going to take in the future. There is a one year, three year and five year plan. Every day brings new challenges and new opportunities, so those plans will change.

 

What I do know is that I am so wildly proud of my brand, the business behind it and the woman running it. I feel gratitude every day I wake up and to me, that is success.

 

I’m very much aware how personal this conversation is for so many people. If anyone reading this, ever wants to share, listen, discuss or not talk about it at all – I’m always here to listen. Shoot me a DM on Instagram, leave a comment below, or email me at hi@theidentite.co. We’re changing the world together.

 


 

 

The Identité Collective is a full service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help small businesses elevate their digital presence to become industry experts. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. great read!!!! I get asked about having a 2nd and it irritates me. Not only do I not want another kid ever, but also, it’s risky for me to even try, due to an issue with my cervix and a previous failed pregnancy. People need to respect women’s decision to have or not to have. Happiness is different for everyone.

  2. Pamela says:

    I throughly appreciate everything about this! As someone who is unable to have children, we are constantly pressured to adopt. And we are grateful and happy in our lives as they are so I don’t need the guilt talk thank you very much.

    • acasey says:

      Thank you Pamela for leaving your thoughts! I can imagine that pressure would be particularly annoying/painful/old + I think that enjoying your life as it is is the bravest, most responsible, LEAST selfish thing you could do. I hate the opinions people share with me that not having kids is selfish. Umm… I think making the choice to not have kids because you’re not ready for/don’t want them/can’t have them is the least selfish thing. That’s COURAGE!

  3. Tawni says:

    I love the authentic transparency you convey here. As a mother of 3 The pressure to have more has subsided, but I have struggled to embrace several of the different phases of motherhood… a few years ago, my oldest was 10, and my two younger Little’s were 5 & 3 and I hit a wall emotionally. My mental health was-well it just wasn’t. I came to a startling realization that had I truly known myself at 25 (when I became pregnant with my oldest daughter) I would not likely have married, let alone had children. I truly am happy and content now and would not want any other life than the one I have chosen. BUT I can say in earnest that caution is most wisely heeded when making the decision to grow your family by adding kids to the mix. I chose to do the work of figuring out how to integrate who I have become with the choices I made before I knew this “version” of me. But it was/is a hell of a lot of work.
    Regardless, just living, breathing, risking, failing, and waking up the next day to do it all over again- it’s just straight up BRAVE. And that has nothing to do with the choice to become a parent (or not.) Courage is courage
    is courage. And, I must say, I do value yours!

    ~tawni

    • acasey says:

      Sweet Tawni – thank you so much for sharing your candid experience. It is EMPOWERING to learn from other women’s experiences. It is BRAVE for you to share your story, so women, current moms, future moms, past moms, can understand that not every moment of being a mom is Instagram worthy, and it’s a decision that doesn’t ever go away. It’s not a wall color change, or a new website. It’s a new life. So glad you’re here, XOXOXO

  4. Meryl says:

    Oh my… I left comments on your feed- but I wanted to add. I was married @ 32 & had my son @ 44 2weeks before my 45th bday. At no time did anyone inquire or did I ever feel pressure about having kids from family or friends. 🤔Maybe it was because – it’s no ones business. Maybe because my parents are deceased or maybe because I live in Northern NJ. I can’t answer that.

  5. Sarah says:

    You hit the nail on the head. Thank you so much for your transparency and honesty and sharing your story. I own a business and work a full time job, but feel this immense pressure to have my family-planning figured out in the next couple years. Not to mention the emotional challenges that maternity leave has on a woma-, workplaces often make the woman feel guilty for taking a few months off but you feel guilty if you don’t spend that time with your child. This is a hard subject, thank you for opening the conversation.

    • acasey says:

      Thank you so much for coming by + leaving your thoughts. I couldn’t agree more + relate very much to the pressure of family planning, when we’re quite in love with the little family we have right now.

  6. Shira Gill says:

    What a beautiful, poignant post! Thank you for your honesty and candor discussing such a taboo subject that is not often brought to light. xx

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