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Talking, writing, educating, and change making in the field of fertility for more than twenty years

“The Short End of The Stick”: Infertility, Gifts, and Inheritance

It happened again the other day.  A woman struggling with infertility posted on Facebook that she always gets “The short end of the stick” because she does not have children.  I believe her, and I don’t think she is being paranoid.  I know this, because I have heard this same story over and over again from people who are childless, and their pain is real.

It can be something as simple and complicated as a woman’s mother choosing to pass a set of family heirloom china to the daughter WITH children because in her mind – the child with no children has “no one to pass the china down to”.  The childless daughter feels hurt and left out. And the mother thinks she is doing the right thing. This pattern can play out over and over again, as children or family members with no children see money, gifts, and support offered to siblings or family members with children versus  themselves. The reason always stated or implied is that of course the siblings with children would get more because they have kids.

Now – perhaps this does make sense on many levels. But it can be a painful experience for the childless siblings seeing “all the good stuff” going to the siblings with children.

I don’t have easy answers around this. I am writing this entry for those of you who are going through this – to know that you are not alone. That other people who are childless have been left out of inheritances or didn’t get things that they may have wanted such as the family china because they didn’t have kids. It can feel like a double punishment and a constant reminder that you don’t have children.

To the family members and friends of people who are childless – please be mindful of this possible pattern of behavior and try to think about how you would feel if you were told that Aunt Sarah’s candle sticks that you really loved were not going to you simply because you had no one to pass it down to.

About Pam Madsen
Talking, writing, educating and change making in the field of fertility for more than twenty years
4 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. so, I posted that on my facebook yesterday and my sister was completely offended by my comments. it isn’t necessarily that I have fertility issues, my husband didn’t want children and so we have none..however my sister has three. All I have ever wanted was to be treated equally with my sister and I don’t think that is too much to ask for……however now I am seen as being selfish and greedy.

  2. only someone w/o children would have the time to worry about what they were going to get when someone died. how about the value of things that can’t be bought? if you’re more worried about $ and things; its good that you didn’t have children. selfish.

  3. Many family members do not understand just how deep and painful infertility can be. And not treating you as an equal in terms of the family heirlooms is just plain stupid. I say go out to Macy’s and pick out an elegant service just for you and your spouse and maybe some friends that you socialize with often. Make your table special, then invite your friends over and maybe take in a movie, theater or just stay in and enjoy a wonderful evening without any children.

    Keep your china and know that some careless kid tossing a ball in the house won’t kill your dinnerware. Maybe even invite your sibling over for brunch some time. and when she commpliments the pretty china you bought, tell her thank you it it is part of living child free.

    I know how much infertility hurts, especially if you have gone thru the treatment and not gotten what you had hoped for.
    I hope that your sister/sibling can eventually see how much your infertility is still hurting you.

  4. Meatbeatranny@ You are the problem with your insensitive statements. all childless want is to be treated fairly. . Obviously $$$ is all the parents think about. Sometimes people are kind and loving until they have children then look out. Everything is owed them.See I can make generalizations too.

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