Editor’s letter: Let’s celebrate our child-free friends

A few weeks ago, our beauty director Edwina Ings-Chambers wrote a powerful and honest account of her lifelong body-image issues and emotional eating. This week, yet again she’s striking a chord on a topic that invites opinions and judgments from virtually everyone. Here, she writes about being a so-called ‘Pank’ – that’s Professional Aunt, No Kids – and challenges the many prejudices that still cling to women who are not mothers.

Like Edwina, I’ve encountered people who don’t believe you can have experienced true, unconditional love if you haven’t had children. I have one relative who genuinely can’t understand how anyone can be happy if they aren’t a parent. That you are somehow incomplete if you haven’t fulfilled this supposed biological imperative.

But it’s just not the case. Granted, I have friends who would give their right arm for longed-for children they can’t have. But more of them are happily child-free by choice. And here’s the thing: contrary to another popular myth, they’re not stone-hearted child haters. In fact they tend to be the people who are the most brilliant with our daughter.

The parents among us like our friends’ children very much – we just generally don’t have the energy or brain space to get meaningfully wrapped up in the lives of any extra kids. It’s our childless friends who love talking to our daughter, listening to her, encouraging her to open up and making her feel like a valid, fully formed adult. It’s probably because they’re not bogged down in the relentlessness of child-related admin – battling traffic to school runs and ballet lessons, homework, meal times, medical appointments, etc – that they tend to have a different kind of energy for being present with kids.

None of us can be all things to all people, even the ones we have personally given birth to. And when you think about it, that is a huge relief.

It’s why I love the sight of my daughter engaged in deep conversation or sharing a laugh with our child-free friends. They ask questions about her life that, if I – her boring, annoying mum – asked, would only get some sort of grunt in response. The people in our lives who are not parents are not to be judged or pitied. They’re to be celebrated. Worshipped, in my case. Everyone in my family is the richer for them.

Enjoy the issue.

Editor’s Picks:

A few things I’m coveting this week

dress

Love the 70s colour combo. Dress, £69.99, shop.mango.com

turmeric tablets

I’ve been told these help with joint pain. I’ll let you know! Turmeric tablets, £18.17, iherb.com

diptyque

A jasmine hit that gets compliments. Diptyque Eau des Sens, from £75, spacenk.com