Dealing with Being Childless

By “Shifra”

As an (as-of-yet) childless BT, who married much later than most, I’m finding myself at the periphery of not only the FFB community, but also the BT community. It’s hard to find a safe place; it is the primary topic throughout the frum velt. The discussion at the tables at simchas inevitably comes around to children and grandchildren; shiurim more than often deal with the same.

I keep telling myself that it is not a Yid’s purpose to raise children, but to raise him/herself.

It feels like the galus of galus and I wonder if there are other “landsman” who have thoughts to share about this issue or who I could talk to about this isolating place.

15 comments on “Dealing with Being Childless

  1. Shifra, if you would like to chat about this, admin has my permission to give you my email address.

  2. “So now, that H’ has bentched her with a true source of happiness and pride, she sometimes indulges herself in talking about it.”

    Case in point.

  3. H’ should bentch you with strength to endure your nisayon and much simcha.

    Regarding the subject of people making insensitive comments: Please try to be m’lamed z’chus on them (meaning myself as well). I have found that sometimes being extremely carefull to not give offense can actually be more offensive. When we refrain from speaking about some nachas that our children gave us, friends without children sometimes react as if to say, “Do you really think that out freindship is so superficial that I wouldn’t want to know (or be invited)? or “Do you really think I am so oversensitive that you have to go to such lengths to protect my feelings?” There are lot of aspects to this as you can certainly understand. I am just writing briefly. Also, some people, particularly baalei t’shuvah, have had a lot of struggles and difficulties in life. Now, that they have children, it may be their first real nachas. I know a woman who talks a lot about her kids, sometimes in the presence of women that have not been bentched with children. And I once thought this was insensitive. But then I cam to know that this woman was nearly disowned by her parents when she became frum, and she has had terrible personal struggles for many years, that people don’t know of. So now, that H’ has bentched her with a true source of happiness and pride, she sometimes indulges herself in talking about it. It is not a good mida, but maybe it is not really that terrible.

    So please try to look at others with an ayin tova, and again, H’ should bentch and all others in that same circumstance.

  4. Thank you for your replies. The primary reason for my posting was to seek others for a support group. I understand people want to help in some way and so they offer advice. I have gone the medical route and would like to again, but, insurance won’t cover anything at my age. I turned to the tzedakah foundations established for this reason and they too turned me down because of age. Adoption is not currently an option. I am turning now, as I should have all along, totally to Hashem. Thank you “Avram” for your post. I’m learning that if we go beyond our nature, as Avraham Avinu did, then Hashem will go beyond nature for us, as He did for our great forefathers. In the meantime, I am seeking others in this situation with whom I could learn and share – coping skills, words of chizuk, and validation that there is much more to a frum life. Again, thank you for your responses. My advice to you is to PLEASE always keep in mind when you are speaking to anyone, in a group or one on one, that it is possible they are childless. A friend recently rejected my Shabbos invitation because her child “would be bored” at our table (since there are no other children there). It is crucial that we all choose our words very carefully. Hatzlacha!

  5. Also, Shifra, please do not overlook the importance of dealing with this from a medical point of view. An organization such as those mentioned above, Bineh Olam and Time will help you guide you through the process.

    There was a very sad story years ago where a couple were suffering from secondary infertility. They sought many brachas from Rebbeim, as is appropriate, but unfortunately, neglected seeking medical advice, because as BT’s, they didn’t realize that was also an option. Another incident occured with a woman who was given a heter to go to the mikvah a day earlier, because otherwise she was missing the day she ovulated each month. Find a Rav, find a doctor!

    BTW, the first couple did have a “happy ending”. They adopted a lovely little girl from Russia. I’ve known of many couples who’ve gone the adoption route with great success, and certainly, this can be an option as well.

    We wish you much hatzlacha!

  6. I think it must be very difficult in a community where so many people have quite a few children. Don’t despair– there are various options to be explored.

    Good luck.

  7. I too was barren but it was given to me and my good lady wife to bear fruit in the autumn mists of our ife-lives. She laughed so we named the little sprog Yitzchok, which sounds like a throat clearing but is “we laughed” oy va voy did we laff.

  8. Oh, Shifra, I feel for you. I was married for five years (and observant for eight) before giving birth to twins conceived through in vitro fertilization.

    The hardest part for me was the social exclusion. Sitting and listening to other women talk endlessly about childrearing, pregnancy and related topics. Always feeling on the periphery.

    The hardest was the two years my husband was in kollel, and we lived in a dorm with the other semicha students and their wives. I felt like I was the odd woman out in two ways–no kids and a BT to boot.

    Two things helped me get through that time:

    1) It helped me to remember that everyone has a reason why she feels different than other people. I tried to find less obvious points of commonality.

    2) I had an opportunity few BT women have–I got to study Torah intensively before having children.

    I hope this time passes very quickly for you, and that you are able to make the most of it.

  9. shosha–
    I don’t think it’s so much being exclusive as a question of different interests/situations. It’s hard as a mother to a young child to hang out with single friends–I can’t just “go out” like they can without hiring a babysitter (too expensive) or packing a baby bag, and taking the stroller, and then the baby is fussy, etc. I imagine it’s similarly difficult for someone without children to have their conversation interrupted by a toddler every three minutes or so. I don’t see mothers excluding those without children, I just see a lot of difficulty on both sides in finding times and places to meet and things to talk about.

    Also, I realize that in some communities there may be a prejudice against gerim/bts, but to be honest in most cases I know it’s something people feel within themselves. I don’t know any ffb who would look down on a bt or a ger, but I know plenty of bts and gerim who are embarrassed by their backgrounds without having received any negative feedback from the ffb world. That’s my community, yours could be different. There are sometimes significant cultural difference between gerim/bts and ffbs, again depending on community, so that could leave someone feeling excluded whether or not that was the intention.

  10. “I’m finding myself at the periphery of not only the FFB community, but also the BT community.”

    this sentence is a question to the frum community in general. because – apart from the specific problem shifra told us here – there is the question why we tend to be so exclusive all the time. being a bt means being different than a ffb – this is right in the sense that there are different experiences. but do we have to value this? a ger most of the time feels at the bottom line of the letter. a ger without children – forget it. a bt is a bit “better”, but without husband or if with husband then without children – – – a ffb without children, the same story, but at least ffb and not bt. and so on.
    i am sure that these questions are given to us, to be even more careful with valuating people, to think about our inner hierarchical structures.
    and i am going along with bas yisroel – davening is one of the most important “instruments” for us, to get the emunah which is needed to encounter our difficulties.

    you, shifra may be blessed.

  11. There are organizations set up to deal with childlessness, and in some cases you meet up with other couples in the same situation. I have a few friends in the same situation, one adopted a baby from Russia a year ago but of course they’re still in ‘treatments’ and although I can be a friend, obviously I can’t relate in the same way her friends in the same situation can. Like you I got married later than most, so in some ways this puts me on similar footing to those who didn’t have children for a while, since we wind up the same ages with kids the same ages. Its a very hard situation, and the only advice anyone can give is to find others (there are plenty out there) to commiserate with. Through friends in similar situations, you can hopefully find a spiritual path to follow, a way of looking at your situation that helps you grow closer to HKBH. Because after all, that’s the goal, right? Everyone has their own different challenges. Of course getting married later than most doesn’t mean you give up hope, I have a number of friends who did and now have children. I will say when you do have them, it will make you appreciate them all the more. I know I do.

    Look to those organizations like Bonei Olam and A Time, I met some of the most amazing people associated with fundraising for those groups, and I’m honored to say I helped even a little bit, and learned so much more from some of these friends.

    Hatzlocha. Just as with your getting married a bit later, davening is the best fallback.

    And we’re all davening for you in our own way.

  12. Although I am not in your position, you are not alone in feeling uncomfortable during conversations about children, grandchildren and their accomplishments. Many of us whose children didn’t fit the mold also feel this isolation and discomfort in these conversations.

    You use the words “as yet” which suggest you are hoping to have children, but didn’t say whether you had gotten support from any individuals or groups. Perhaps you have heard of the organization “A Time”? Here is their mission statement:
    Mission Statement
    A TIME is the premier, internationally acclaimed organization that offers advocacy, education, guidance, research and support through our many programs to Jewish men, women, and couples struggling with reproductive health and infertility.

    If this seems to fit your situation, you can find them on the web at


  13. Shira–I sometimes feel “left out” because I don’t have children too. I’m not in the exact same situation as I think you are, as I am not ready to start my family just yet. I think sometimes the pain of wanting children but not having them heightens the feeling of being an outsider when spending time with a group of parents.

    What I have tried to do is to find friends who don’t feel the need to talk about their children every second of the day. This has meant that I had to change my conception of who would want to be friends with me and who I would enjoy being friends with. I thought, as a 26 year old, that women in their 30s or 40s wouldn’t be interested in a friendship with me. But my sense of the friends I have made is that they enjoy spending time with a younger person and getting a different perspective. And luckily, parenthood isn’t as “new” to them, so it seems as if they enjoy the opportunity to talk about non-mom topics.

    You said you got married when you were a bit older. Am I safe in assuming that you’re now in your 30s or 40s? Perhaps you could seek out a woman in her late 20s who has yet to get married, or hasn’t yet had children? Also, what about starting a Jewish book club for women in your shul? Or a walking club? a Current events discussion club? Or a movie watching club? It would give you a chance to socialize in a setting that isn’t centered on motherhood/parenting. You might find that there are other women who are interested in some of the same things you are and form a friendship based on that shared interest.

    Also, if there are topics you would like to see covered in shiurim in your community, perhaps you could talk to your Rav? If your shul has a committee that is in charge of adult education programs, maybe you could get on that committee and start working towards bringing “scholars in residence” to talk about that topics you’re interested in? Or if the local JCC is a “kosher” place, maybe you could volunteer there to help bring speakers to discuss topics that are of interest to you.

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