To Have Children Or Not To Have Children? That Is The Question.

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

Deep inside I always thought I wanted children…probably… eventually…possibly. When I graduated from college in the late 1990s, friends started having children while I remained happily unencumbered. Even after I married, our family planning consisted of not having children right away. And when I reached my late thirties–a time when many childless women become desperate for motherhood-I nevertheless did not feel like I was missing out on anything.

Today, more and more women are choosing not to have children, and while the stigma has not entirely lifted, it is not entirely what it used to be, either. Some say the urge to have children is partially biological. If so, then what does that say about women who do not want to have children? I meet women, both older and younger, who struggle with the contemplation of parenthood. Should they try to have a child anyway, and if they do not, will they regret it later? Furthermore, do they actually want a child to fulfill their own needs, or do they feel the pressure of society, their extended family, or even a spouse? The issue is obviously even more fraught for women of prime childbearing age who are having trouble conceiving. How far should they push the issue, and how much money are they willing to spend on making it happen?

In my late 30s and early forties, my husband and I did actively try to conceive. We were unsuccessful in our natural attempts. We started to consider IVF (in vitro fertilization) but the physical ramifications and financial burdens were too great compared to our apathetic desires. I have seen other women who wanted children so much that they almost seemed to erase a part of themselves with their anxiety. Though I probably would have welcomed a child, the yearning of these women seemed absolutely foreign to me. As a result, we just decided to stop focusing on having a baby, and a baby never came.

I do not regret not having children and I do not feel like I missed out on the experience. However, I rarely volunteer how utterly happy I am with the decision I made either. This decision has allowed me to prosper in other aspects of my life. It has granted me the time to be able to successfully start and run a business. It has allowed me to become empowered in a way that a full-time mother will never experience. In essence, a childless life has given me both personal and economic freedom.

I used to wonder how life could have been different. Could I have been that supermom who juggled family and a full-time career, giving my extra time to my family, instead of providing open availability to my clients? The straight answer is no, and whenever I traveled down this possible future path, depression would come upon me. No matter how helpful my husband promised to be, I knew the bulk of the responsibility would fall on me, the mother. Deep down I always knew that was not the life for me.

I have never given life to another person. However, I am amazed and grateful, daily, at how much happiness has come my way. I have friends of all ages. I’ve had incredible romances, spectacular travels and now an amazing marriage. I take pleasure in being able to take my niece to Europe every summer and show her the wonders of the world. I am not immune to the desire to care about other living creatures. I am the mother of five cats, whom my husband and I call “the kids.” We love them dearly and they play an important role in my life, just as I do in theirs.

So many accounts of lives without children–lives such as mine–are met with negative societal reactions. It is difficult when one is young to make the distinction between what you think you should want, and what you actually want. One thing everyone who is childless hears is, “If you don’t have children, you will regret it later.” They are wrong. I do not regret my decision. To have no regrets means one experienced everything just as one had planned and made the correct decision at every single juncture. I honestly feel I have followed the path I was meant to follow, and children were simply not meant to be part of that equation.

To younger women who believe that a child-free life will be an unfulfilling one, please keep in mind that your future self is a person you have not yet met. Do not presume to know everything about your future self in advance, and do not think you can control every element of your life. The reality is, sometimes even the choices you make by default can bring great happiness–perhaps, just not the sort of happiness you initially envisioned.

 A Tale of Princesses, Fabulous Wealth And Unimaginable Human Rights Violations

By Katherine Fry, CEO/President Mediafy Communications Group

Princess Haya of Jordan, for many, is a feminist icon. She, along with her sister-in-law Queen Rania of Jordan, and her step-mother, Queen Noor of Jordan, is often referred to as one of “the Supermodel Queens of the Middle East.” The Princess’ 2004 marriage to the ruler of Dubai has been portrayed to the public as a modern-day fairy tale-until now. On August 4th, 2019, the Princess appeared in court requesting a “forced marriage protection order,” presumably on behalf of her daughter, and a “non-molestation order,” on behalf of herself. (1) The following day, news sources around the world proclaimed that Princess Haya and her children had barely escaped from Dubai with their lives, and now remain in hiding, seeking legal protection from the British government.

Born to King Hussein and Queen Alia of Jordan in 1974, Princess Haya has lived in the royal spotlight since the day of her birth. Following the death of her mother in a tragic helicopter crash, the American-born Queen Noor of Jordan stepped in and continued raising the young girl. Princess Haya ultimately grew into an Oxford-educated, horse-riding champion, participating in equestrian events around the world. As a result, she signified the very best of Islam, and how the women of this religion can still be independent, intelligent, successful and even beautiful.

In 2004, at the age of twenty-nine, Princess Haya traveled to Dubai, as a special guest of its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Al Rashid Al Maktum. Shortly thereafter, the pair celebrated their marriage in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Following the celebration, the world-wide press revealed the already existing marriage of Al-Maktoum to his first cousin. In response to this apparent criticism, Princess Haya stated that at the time of her mother’s marriage to King Hussein of Jordan, he had actually been married to his first wife, the British born Princess Muna. As a result, Princess Haya indicated that she felt quite comfortable being a second wife. The pictures of their Highnesses at Royal Ascot appeared to echo this sentiment, as they moved easily in the rarified air of fancy hats, designer dresses and smiling faces.

Eventually, the cracks started to show in the perfect facade of the Al Maktum family. Problems appeared to begin in March 2018, when one of Al Maktum’s daughters, Latifa, released a video in which she described her torment and the torment of her sister, Shamsa, at the hands of their “ego” driven father. (2) Latifa discusses in the video her intentions of escaping, and that if people are watching the video, she has likely been captured and perhaps even murdered. (2) Shortly thereafter, reports came in that Latifa had indeed attempted to escape, and been violently apprehended by armed guards in India. (3) The following December, the former President of Ireland and former UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, traveled to Dubai and visited with Latifa. Following the meeting, she indicated the Latifa did not appear to be in any danger but also described her as a “troubled young woman.” (4) Just as the dust appeared to be settling on this issue, reports emerged in August that Princess Haya, herself, had fled Dubai with her children, barely escaping with her life. Shortly thereafter she appeared in court, and now is in hiding.

Most troubling of all appears to be the online smear campaign being launched against Princess Haya. Some online sources claim Princess Haya simply left Al Maktoum for another man, while others claim he actually caught her in bed with a bodyguard. (5) From there, the articles degrade, with remote websites asserting Princess Haya has been a woman “of extreme liberty” since her youth, who is “perverted” and “on drugs.” (6) Some even accuse her stepmother, Queen Noor, of drugging her since childhood. (7) Such claims are completely unsubstantiated. On January 5th, 2019, Princess Haya publicly stated she would cease defending her husband and leave if she found evidence of truth in Latifa’s story of abuse. (7) Shortly thereafter, Princess Haya ceased appearing in public, and all of her social media accounts fell dormant. With her silence and subsequent estrangement from her husband, Princess Haya essentially confirmed the allegations of her step-daughter, Latifa.

The reality is that Dubai is a country wrought with human rights violations. It’s fantastic wealth has not advanced beyond a culture that is still, in many ways, stuck in the Stone Ages. The fact that Princess Haya’s marriage to Al Maktum broke down should serve as a wake up to us all that the world is not always a friendly place for women, and to many, we are still property, or worse, even slaves. Furthermore, all royal marriages are not fairytales, even if that initially appears to be the case. The court case of Princess Haya versus Al Maktoum promises to lay bare the truths of life in Dubai, in full detail. Only time will tell how deeply the corruption runs and how many people have been hurt.