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Dear Lezzies Advice Column 5
for Lesbians On The Loose (LOTL)
Online Magazine in Australia:

Question: My Partner wants a baby, but I don't. What can I do?

Dear Lezzies,

I'm three years into a relationship and my partner keeps dropping hints about having a baby. She says she thinks I'd make a great mother, it would complete us as a family, I'm not happy at work and she earns enough to support all of us - this would be my chance to take time off. At times I agree with her on all these points, but something is holding me back. I am worried that if we have a baby we will not be the same - either as a couple or as individuals. I also feel too old at 39 to change my life so dramatically. And I also flash back to my childhood. I wasn't a happy child and neither my straight brother nor sister has had children. Am I just not the maternal type, or is it something deeper to do with my past? My partner seems to take it as a personal insult that I don't want to breed with her. But even after thinking about it upside down and sideways, I am left with a feeling of "no, don't do it." Why? I really enjoy kids when I can hand them back to their parents, so do I see children as baggage? Am I happy with a feeling of being "single" even within my relationship? What am I really afraid of...? Or am I right not to bow to pressure that parenting is for all women. My partner says that later in life I will regret "missing out." What do you think?

Natalie R.

Dear Lezzies Answer:

Dear Natalie,

This is a tough question that many people, straight, lesbian and gay, go through, including myself. I raised a child with my ex GF for 9 years, and after that I wanted no part of raising another.

It was tough, to say the least, and it was even harder on my step-daughter when classmates found out that she had more than one mom. She was harassed continuously, so much so that she dropped out of high school. What was supposed to be the best years of her young life were instead spent in night school getting a high school diploma with adults.

Now granted, that was over 16 years ago, and things are getting better for LGBT people everywhere, but depending on where you live this is still something to take into consideration if you plan to raise a child in a lesbian relationship.

Another thing to take into consideration is the money end of things. It is very expensive to raise a child. Of course, I've always heard the saying, "If you wait to be able to afford a baby, you will never have one," but it is difficult to raise a child on a shoe-string budget. According to a study done by the Department of Agriculture, the cost to raise a child here in the US, from infant to age 17, is about a quarter of a million dollars!

Since you are saying your partner earns enough to support all of you, this may not be an issue, but being responsible for a child is a very big deal, and it doesn't usually end when that child turns 18 and goes off to college.

This brings up another thing that you might want to consider: that your child will be ready to go to college when you are nearing 60 years old! Have you and your partner considered the question from this angle? It may not be part of the equation for her, but it may be for you. Age is an issue, but not as big as it used to be, since some women are having children later in life after starting a career.

I will say that raising my step-daughter was not a horrible situation that I regretted doing, but it did totally change my life. Everything revolved around her: when she was home with us, when she would go with her father, dealing with other parents and their sometimes negative attitudes, homework, how to handle sleep-overs, etc. Raising a child can be a great experience, if that's what you want, but you've really got to weigh out the pros and cons of this for yourself, your partner and your relationship.

Maybe before you do anything, you could privately take a large sheet of paper, draw a line down the center, and write Pros on one side of that line, and Cons on the other. Then take a deep breath, and write down everything that you can think of as far as the good and bad of having a child with your partner. Just let it flow out of you, writing whatever comes into your mind, and putting it under either the Pro or Con heading. Do a list for you, and then a separate list that concerns how this will affect you and your partner as a couple. After you've exhausted all of your feelings, put the paper in a safe place for a day or so, and then review it and see if there is anything else you need to add. After everything is out of your mind and onto the paper, you can then compare the two columns, and weigh out what you really think about having a child with your partner. Hopefully, this will help you figure out where your fears are coming from, and if they are legitimate feelings, or just old stuff coming up from your past, including your childhood.

Things for you to think about:

If you don't want a child now, will you want one in the future?

Can you see yourself having a child with your partner, or are there issues in your relationship that prohibits those ideas?

What are your reasons for not wanting a child now, like issues from childhood, fears about losing your identity, or having to change your entire life. Don't just write down the reason, but flesh that part out. How do you think you would loose your identity? What issues from your childhood are the reasons you question having a child?

After you figure out how you truly feel about this situation, you could also have your partner do the same with her own Pro and Con list. You can then sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk about your findings with your partner. Set aside a couple of hours to really discuss how you feel and why. Allow your partner to also have the same opportunities to voice her opinions and feelings of why she wants to bring a child into this world. Really discuss both of your fears and worries with each other and about each other, because it is very important that if a baby is in your future, that she or he is wanted by both of you.

If you feel that your hesitancy to have a child is from childhood issues, and you haven't worked on those issues, counseling may help you to heal yourself. You may find that without these old fears you may be more willing to have a child in your life.

Talk about the reasons why she wants a baby, and then discuss your feelings about this. See if there are areas where you could compromise, like if you need more time to think about this, then say so, and set a date to discuss it again. If things get out of hand with emotions, and you can't seem to come to an agreement on what to do, you may need to make an appointment with a therapist who is open to lesbian issues. Sometimes a person outside of the situation can help each partner see things more clearly.

It is very important that your partner does not harass or guilt you about this, and vice versa, because this can cause resentment on both sides, and damage your relationship. As far as her saying that later in life you will regret "missing out," usually when someone makes a statement like this, she is speaking from her point of view, meaning she will feel like she is missing out if she doesn't do this. That said, it is also very important that if your partner really does want a child but you do not, then you will have to have a discussion about her leaving your relationship to do this on her own.
This is a hard thing for sure, but if she really wants a baby and she stays with you, there can be resentments about this for the rest of your relationship, and this too could undermine your happiness.

In the end, we can make the suggestions listed above and you can do the exercises. You both can talk about what you want, what you don't want, and what you are willing to compromise, or not compromise on. Whether you do this on your own or with a counselor is also not the point. It boils down to what you want together and separately. If you don't want the same things, it isn't fair for one of you to give in and do it just so the other won't leave. If you love each other but want different things, then you must set each other free to follow your separate paths. If you love each other and decide you want the same thing, then can grow together through the experiences of being a family of three instead of a family of two.

NOTE: The advice in this column is the opinion of the writers and is not intended as a
substitute for medical or psychological treatment from a health care professional.
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