Childless at Christmas: Tips for Coping Better

If you’re feeling lonely, sad, heartbroken, or devasted because you’re childless at Christmas, you are not alone. Many others in a similar position feel this way. 

It can be yet another reminder to those of us who are involuntarily childless that we’re an invisible minority dwelling in the outskirts of society.

We’re not one of the lucky privileged adults who are parents.

But despite almost 20% of women reaching menopause without having children, society doesn’t seem to have much awareness about how painful this time can be for people who are childless at Christmas. 

Feeling like we’re missing out on the magic many parents and children enjoy at Christmas is hard. It takes a lot of conscious effort to try to enjoy this time of year. 

Most people who are involuntarily childless feel worse at this time of year – until they’ve healed from the grief of not having children. 

Hold on to the hope of being happy at Christmas

The good news is that it IS possible to heal from your grief (yes that’s what you’re experiencing) and be happy despite being childless. As soon as you’re ready to do so.

I say this as a childless woman who has gone from heartbreak to happiness. You can read more about my childless journey my blog Coming to Terms with Being Involuntarily Childless <HERE>.

It’s such a relief to no longer get upset about not having children and to be able to enjoy Christmas again. I now love the festive period – including being around and having fun with children at what I feel is a magical time of year.

But this acceptance and inner peace has only come from investing time and money getting the support I needed to make it easier to heal from my grief and trauma. 

If you still find this time of year upsetting because you’re childless, read on for thoughts, insights, and coping strategies – so can feel better and enjoy moments of happiness over the festive period. 

Christmas is ALL about children

That’s what it feels like to someone who is childless and is often reinforced by those around us.

Just last week I bumped into someone in the street who casually asked: It’s being around our children that makes Christmas special – isn’t it?

I’m sure she didn’t mean to point out what I was missing. But what she’d said was based upon the assumption was that as a grown woman, of course I’d have children. 

But like most people, this woman just isn’t aware of the upset caused by assuming all adults are parents of healthy children. 

And here’s the reality – at its heart, Christmas is all about children. It’s the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus.

It’s natural to feel upset when you’re childless at Christmas

However, as a childless person, the birth of others’ babies evokes conflicting feelings. 

The joy we ‘should’ feel for friends and family, is often tinged with devastation, that we’ve not been able to enjoy having a baby or being a parent. 

But the traditional meaning of Christmas isn’t usually what’s most upsetting. 

Rather it’s the fact that in Western predominantly Christian countries, Christmas has turned into all sorts of festivities and activities aimed mainly at children. 

  • Adverts for toys all through the day and evening. 
  • Nativity plays – a cute celebration for young kids, schools, and families. Even if childless people don’t attend, we’re constantly aware of something else we’re missing out on from the conversations going on around us or parents/grandparents taking time out of work to attend. 
  • Keeping the myth of Santa alive – the biggest lie…. and now I hear we have mischievous elves too…
  • Trips to Lapland – sounds such fun, if only I had a child or two to take with me…
  • Pantos – a theatre of excited children.
  • Lots of conversations about what presents parents are getting for children and the stresses that go with this
  • Parents expressing how much they have to do because of all the extra kid’s activities and requests for Christmas – if only we had that opportunity!
  • Christmas fairs and events that can feel like they’re aimed at or will be packed with children and parents. 

As a human being, I love that all these things are happening as I know they bring such joy to lots of children. I just wish more people were mindful of the many people who are childless and sad at Christmas. 

Other normal thoughts of childless people at Christmas:

  • It feels like everyone around me has children.
  • I’m trying so hard to enjoy Christmas but it’s not working. 
  • I’m constantly pretending to be happy; it takes so much effort. 
  • I feel so out of sync with my family and friends. 
  • My table settings get fewer each year.
  • I wish I had children to feel the magic of Christmas morning and day with.
  • I’d love to have had the chance to host a fabulous family dinner for my children and grandchildren
  • Who will we share Christmas with once our elderly relatives are no longer with us?

A different perspective 

During a recent conversation at one of my childless women’s circles, someone brought up that one of the ways they cope is to avoid Christmas Wonderland events as they are full of children.

Interestingly I’d just booked tickets for a local Christmas Festival and that thought had never crossed my mind.  I’d been thinking it would be a lovely ‘date night’ for me and my husband – a ‘different’ outdoor experience, eating street food, taking in the atmosphere of Christmas, and having a shot on a carousel (oh yes, the adult tickets include a ride too). The only thought I’d had about children was that it would have been a lovely family outing with my nieces had I heard about it sooner. 

Two childless women with completely different responses to the same type of event. 

I’m sure I would have had a similar response a few years ago, before I did a lot of inner work healing my grief of not having had children. While I’d never wish the feelings I’ve felt about being childless over the years on anyone, it was nice to realise how rarely I notice it now. 

So how do you cope better if you’re childless at Christmas?                                                                   

Change your childless Christmas story 

Ultimately, it’s not Christmas, children, or parents who cause us to be upset.

It’s the stage we’re at in our grief, the stories we’re telling ourselves (and others) about being childless, and the choices we make about what we expose ourselves to which distress us. 

If you want to feel and cope better, the first thing you need to do is to give yourself permission to heal from your grief and do whatever you feel will make you feel better.

Ultimately you have a choice about the extent to which you let this get to you. Versus taking action to feel better and heal your grief. 

Coping strategies

  • Avoid – when you’re still hoping to have children or are in the early stages of coming to terms with being involuntarily childless, the easiest thing may be to avoid situations that will upset you. Instead, proactively seeking out activities and experiences that will make you feel good – particularly with other childless people. I remember one year booking a trip to Nepal over Christmas with other single people the year I split up with my ‘practice’ husband. A change of scene was a great temporary distraction! Remember though that avoidance isn’t a good long-term strategy. It’s always best to heal from your grief and build a fabulous life without children too. 

  • Heal – while the grief of childlessness is often a silent affair there are plenty of coaches, therapists, and support groups who can help you heal from your grief so you can enjoy life again and build a future that nourishes your heart. Simply do a Google search or contact me to find out about the support packages and services I offer. 

  • Enjoy – jump back into the fun of Christmas by being a child yourself again. Choosing to focus on the fun aspects rather than what you’ve not got can make all the difference. 

I hope that’s given you some hope for enjoying this special time of year again. 

Want to enjoy a meaningful life, despite not having children?

That’s one of the things I love doing through My Meaningful Life Programme and Women Rock the World Community – with a childless women’s circle, online course, and one-to-one support available, I can help feel better and enjoy life again.

Get in touch <HERE> if you’d like to find out more. 

Remember, you matter and what you do next matters. 
With love, 
P.S.  Are you a member of Women Rock the World? An empowering community for midlife women make the most of their wisdom years and make a difference in the world. Check it out HERE

Often described as one of the most authentic and inspiring souls you can meet, Alisoun is on a mission to improve the lives of 100,000 people–by making it easier for women over forty to feel good, enjoy a meaningful life, and have more impact in the world.

Alisoun’s keynote talks, training, mentoring, and best-selling books Heartatude: The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success and Give-to-Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities and Social Causes have favorably changed the good fortune of thousands of people worldwide. She loves helping others, fundraising, and enjoying a quiet life by the beach in Scotland.

Alisoun is has written the following free resources:

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