July 31, 2016 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Stand tall, women without children
香山リカのココロの万華鏡 子どもがいなくても

Japan's decreasing birthrate has reached grave levels. Meanwhile, mothers face a whole range of serious problems, from "maternity harassment" while they're pregnant to postpartum depression and the many stresses of raising children. There is no question that building a society where people can feel confident and at ease about having and bringing up kids is one of the most urgent tasks facing Japan today.
いまの日本にとって少子化は深刻な事態だ。また、妊娠中の女性へのハラスメントや出産後のうつ状態、育児ストレスと、子どもを持つ女性たちはさまざまな問題に直面しなければならない。「安心して産み、育てることのできる社会」をつくることが急務であるのは間違いない。

However, there are women in every era who don't have children. There are those who want to have kids but, for various reasons, can't. And then there are those who chose not to have children for reasons of their own. These women may not insist that they are having a tough time, but they do indeed have their own specific problems and worries. I have written a book called "Non-mama to iu ikikata" (A non-mother's way of life) aimed at these very people, based not just on my experiences as a practicing psychiatrist but also on my personal life as a woman without children.
ただ、いつの時代も「子どもを持たない女性」もいる。いろいろな事情で子どもがほしくてもそうできなかった人もいれば、自分の意思であえてその選択をしなかった人もいるだろう。そういう女性たちはあえて「私たち、たいへんなんです」とはあまり言わないが、その人たちならではの困難もあれば悩みもある。子どもを持って「ママ」にならなかった女性たちにスポットをあて「ノンママという生き方」という本にまとめてみた。診察室での経験と同時に、子どもを持たない女性のひとりである自分のことも書いた。

Patients seeing me about their child-reading worries will often ask me, "Do you have children, doctor?" I answer honestly and directly, "No, I don't." On many occasions, the patient has replied, "Oh, well then you can't understand my problems." A senior doctor once told me, "Psychiatrists only truly come to understand people's feelings when they have kids of their own." In all honesty, it hurt to hear that, and it made me wonder if I was doomed to remain forever incomplete as a psychiatrist.
私の場合、子育ての悩みを語る患者さんに「先生はお子さんがいますか?」ときかれ、「いえ、いません」と正直に答えて「じゃ、私の悩みはわからないですよね」と言われたことが何度かある。先輩から「精神科医もわが子を育ててはじめて人の気持ちがわかる」と言われ、「私は一生、精神科医として未熟なままなのだろうか」とひそかに傷ついたこともある。

I admit I have sometimes been a little envious when listening to an old school friend talk happily about their kids. However, as I've built up various kinds of experience, I have come to think that the fact I don't have children gives me the ability to consider people's feelings and the problems of child rearing from a perspective not available to parents. And I think that's a good thing about me.
もちろん、楽しそうに子育ての話をする学校時代の同級生を見ながら、「ちょっと寂しいな」と思ったこともある。ただ、いろいろな経験を積む中で、「子どもがいないからこそ、親とは別の視点から育児や人の気持ちを考えることもできているはず。私はこれでよかったんだ」といまの自分に自信を持てるようになった。

Women without kids who come to my office often feel guilty somewhere in their hearts, and it saps their confidence. Some of them end up burning out from overwork after taking on the responsibilities of other women at their workplaces who have taken parental leave. To these tired women I always say, "You are always you, whether you have kids or not. Give what you can do your utmost effort, and don't be shy about refusing things you can't do."
診察室で子どものない女性たちは、どこか後ろめたさを感じ、自信を失っている。職場でいつも子育て中の女性の仕事を引き受け、過労で倒れそうになっている人もいる。私はいつもそういう女性たちに、「子どもがいてもいなくても自分は自分。できることを精いっぱいやればいいし、できないことは遠慮なく断ればいい」と伝えている。

Having kids and raising them to adulthood is a wonderful thing, but that does not mean that not having kids is somehow less wonderful.
子どもを産み、育てるのはすばらしいことだが、だからといってその逆、「子どもがいないのはすばらしくない」が正しいというわけではないのだ。

Women who choose not to have children face various circumstances and many worries, but there are also things that only they can do and be proud of. I believe in my heart that everyone should be able to stand tall and say, "I am me."
子どもを持たない人生を選んだ女性たちには、事情もあれば迷いもあり、彼女たちにしかできないことや誇りもある。誰もが胸を張って「私は私」と言えたらいいな、と心から思う。

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist) (精神科医)

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