Is the Church Failing Childless Women?

We can all do better.

Does the church know how to love childless women? It's a difficult but important question. I recently read a pair of articles from two different perspectives that touch on this issue. One was from Suzanne Burden, a married woman in her early 40s who has struggled with infertility; the other was from Amanda Bast, an unmarried 26­-year-­old. Both presented quite a poignant picture of how lonely—even alienating—the "Christian community" can feel when you don't fit the traditional, get-married-young-and-start-a-family-early" mold.

Consider Amanda's perspective: "When you ask when I'm getting married, I don't have an answer for you. When you hint at me having kids, it makes me jealous of new parents. When you prod about my lack of a stable career, I get frustrated. When you ask these questions, it doesn't help me grow. It doesn't help me feel content with where I am. It does more damage than you realize."

Suzanne's experience is similar: "Do you know how I felt when I went to a new church in a new city and was asked if I wanted to attend 'Mom's Night Out'? As it was the only social opportunity for women at the time, I believe the woman who asked me was trying to include the newcomer. When I informed her I was not a mom and I asked if they had considered calling it 'Ladies' Night Out' to include the childless women in the church, I was eventually told: 'Sorry, that's just what we call it.' I never attended—I did, however, immediately feel marginalized."

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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May 25

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