Editorial: Childless mothers (4-7-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (April 7, 1941)


By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

A reader with three children, who is pretty mad because this column not long ago denounced “the noble attitude of some mothers,” writes:

I think it is high time we placed ourselves on a pedestal and lorded it over these selfish, self-centered wives.

She continues:

After all, what do they contribute to this country? All they want is good times. The majority don’t want children. And while we are not supposed to talk to them about ours, because it might bore them, we are obliged to hear all the vicious gossip they can dish out. I’d like to know who has a better right to be smug or noble or to take a bow once in a while than the mother. We do our best, yet are never appreciated.

Now, this seems to me a very young approach to the whole subject. Almost as wrong as the refusal on the part of some women to have children. For it sets up the theory that a woman has her babies, not for the joy of the experience, but for the glory she gets out of it.

It is also erroneous to think that all childless women prefer the condition. Many of them are unfortunate, and mourn the deprivation sincerely. They may be physical difficulties which are not corrected soon enough, or perhaps the pressure of life is so great, or the days run by so swiftly the person doesn’t realize she invites barrenness by postponing pregnancy.

And is it not a mistake to believe that the material spirit lives only in the hearts of women who have babies? I think so. For thousands who are never borne a child, or known love, are still great mothers.

Humanity has been greatly benefitted by such women. We can name many, and all their names are noble – Florence Nightingale, Anna Howard Shaw, Jane Addams, countless Nuns, and others of all denominations and faiths who dedicate their lives to the happiness of little children.