The journey of accepting a childless future

What is this grief? And why are we so silent about it?

These are just two of the questions that Sian Prior, a former columnist for The Age, set out to answer in her new book, Childless: A Story of Freedom and Longing. An augmented extract of Childless is this week’s cover story, “The Trying Game. It’s a subject explored in the latest episode of Good Weekend Talks, which looks at the long road to acceptance faced by a rising tide of women in the West who wanted children but didn’t have them.

“I got to the point where I just had to say to myself, ‘Okay, I need to stop. I need to give this up. And I need to find out who I’m going to be if I’m not going to be a mother,’” says Prior. “I asked myself, ‘What can I do? What can I have? How can I be? As a result of not getting the thing that I wanted most in the world?’ And the answer was freedom … my strange and terrible freedom.”

Hosted by Good Weekend editor Katrina Strickland, this intensely personal, one-on-one discussion examines the particular grief and deep reckoning that comes with wanting a child and not having one, but also the unfair labels lobbed at childless women, including “selfish” or “careerist”.

“There’s a lot of reckoning and looking backwards and self-flagellation over decisions or forks in the road, where you went one way and not the other,” says Strickland, who has a message for those in the midst of that journey: “It’ll be fine. You’ll come out the other side. The wound will be cauterised and life will go on. It can be fabulous – it is fabulous – but you don’t see that when you’re in the middle of it.”


Good Weekend Talks offers readers the chance to delve even deeper each week into Good Weekend’s most intriguing stories, with lively insight from writers, editors and experts. Listen to more episodes by subscribing to Good Weekend Talks wherever you get your podcasts.

For the full feature story, see Saturday’s Good Weekend, or visit The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

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