Where does the desire for a child come from?
The desire for a child is rooted – in part – in childhood, through mimicry and through doll play. Very early, thea little girl identifies with her mother or rather with the function of mother who passes through warmth, tenderness and devotion. Around 3 years old, things change. The little girl gets closer to her father, she then wishes to take her mother’s place and have like her a child of her father: it is the Oedipus. Of course, the little boy is also going through all these psychic upheavals. The desire for a child is expressed less for him by dolls, babies, than by fire engines, planes… Objects that he unconsciously associates with paternal power. He wants to become a father like his father, to be his equal and to dethrone him by seducing his mother. The desire for a child then falls asleep to wake up better at puberty, when the girl becomes fertile.. Therefore, “the physiological change will be accompanied by a psychic maturation which, gradually, will bring her to a romantic encounter and to the desire to give birth”, explains Myriam Szejer, child psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, at the maternity hospital. Foch hospital, in Suresnes.
Baby desire: an ambivalent desire
Why in some women the desire for a child is expressed very early while others reject, repress the very idea of motherhood for many years, then decide just before it is no longer possible? You might think that considering pregnancy is a conscious and clear process that begins with deliberately stopping contraception. It is, however, much more complex. The desire for a child is an ambivalent feeling linked to everyone’s history, to the family past, to the child that one was, to the bond with the mother, to the professional context. One can have the impression of wanting a child, but one does not do it because another feeling takes precedence: “I want and I do not want at the same time”. The context in the couple is decisive because the choice of start a family takes two. For a child to be born, “the desire of the woman and that of her companion must meet at the same time and this confrontation is not always obvious”, emphasizes Myriam Szejer. It is also necessary that on the physiological level everything works.
Do not confuse desire for pregnancy and desire for a child
Some women, sometimes very young, show an irrepressible desire for children. They have want to be pregnant without wanting a child, or they want a child for herself, to fill a gap. The conception of a child, when it is not articulated with the desire of the other, can be a way to satisfy a purely narcissistic desire. “These women think that they will be valid only when they are mothers”, explains the psychoanalyst. ” Social status passes through maternal status for reasons that are written in everyone’s history. This will not prevent them from being very good mothers. Fertility issues can also lead to a craving for a child. Many women despair of not being pregnant as they go through medical treatment. Psychic blockages that often take root in the mother-daughter relationship can explain these repeated failures. We want a child more than anything, but paradoxically an unconscious part of us does not want it, the body then refuses conception. To try to remove these unconscious obstacles, psychoanalytic work is often necessary.
What gives rise to the desire for a child
The desire for a child is also part of a social context. Around their thirties, many women get pregnant and trigger the same enthusiasm in those around them. At this key age, most mothers-to-be have already started their professional careers well and the financial context lends itself more to dreaming about a birth project. Over the years, the question of motherhood becomes more pressing and the biological clock makes its small voice heard when we know that fertility is the best between the ages of 20 and 35. The desire for a child can also be motivated by the desire to give a little brother or sister to a first child or to create a large family.
When to give up the last child
The desire for motherhood is closely linked to the reproductive instinct. Like any mammal, we are programmed to reproduce as long as possible. The child is born when the reproductive instinct coincides with the desire for a child. For Myriam Szejer, “a woman is always in need of children. This explains why when the youngest starts to grow and she feels that he is slipping away, a new baby is set in motion, ”she emphasizes. Somewhere, ” the decision to no longer give birth is experienced as a renunciation of the next child. A good number of women forced to undergo an abortion at the request of their husbands live very badly this situation because, deep inside them, something has been deeply violated. Menopause, which represents the end of fertility, is sometimes also experienced very painfully because women are forced to give up the child for good. They lose the power to decide.
No desire for a child: why?
It happens of course that some women do not feel any desire for a child. This can be due to family wounds, to the absence of a fulfilling married life or to a deliberate and fully assumed desire. In a society that glorifies motherhood, this choice can sometimes be difficult to assume psychologically. However, the absence of desire for a child will in no way prevent a woman from fully living her femininity and from embarking on other paths in complete freedom.