You may not have biological children of your own, or even changed a nappy, but does that make you any less of a mother? 63-year-old talk show host, media mogul, philanthropist and overall superwoman Oprah Winfrey has waded into the ‘childless women’ debate in her latest interview.
Speaking to Good Housekeeping magazine, she expressed her confusion and consternation at the fact that she is still asked why she and her partner of more than 30 years, Stedman Graham, opted not to have children.
The star fell pregnant at the tender age of 14, subsequently losing her baby son, Canaan, who was born prematurely. However, she says that founding the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a boarding school in South Africa which houses 172 students, makes her feel “like I am a mother to the world’s children.”
“For me it was perfect because I didn’t want babies,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been a good mom for babies. I don’t have the patience. I have the patience for puppies, but that’s a quick stage! But this is so rewarding.
“It doesn’t matter if a child came from your womb or if you found that person at age two, 10 or 20. If the love is real, the caring is pure and it comes from a good space, it works
Actress Kim Cattrall has previously taken on the use of the term ‘childless’ for women saying, “it’s the ‘less’ that is offensive,” she told Woman’s Hour in 2015. “Childless – it sounds like you’re less because you haven’t had a child.” Like Oprah, she firmly believes that having children is not the only way to be a mother. “There is a way to become a mother in this day and age that doesn’t include your name on the child’s birth certificate,” she said.
“You can express that maternal side very clearly, very strongly. I have young actors and actresses that I mentor, I have nieces and nephews that I am very close to. I am not a biological parent, but I am a parent.” She also takes issue with the ostensibly positive term ‘child-free’, declaring, “I am not completely child-free, because I care about the next generation.”