What do you picture when you think of a typical British family?
20 to 30 years ago it probably would have been a Mum, a Dad and two, maybe three children. That was certainly the world that I grew up in. It was very unusual to find a family that didn’t look like the 2 point 4 children family you saw on TV.
Today we live in a much more diverse society and world, one where everyone has a choice and that has seen the family as we once knew it evolve.
My children are being brought up in a much more accepting, less discriminative society where ‘family’ doesn’t mean just a Mum and a Dad and two children, it means a loving unit, one that supports each other. Whether that’s two Mum’s or one Mum or one Dad, a family can be made up however we choose today and I am so glad that my children are being raised in such an accepting society and hope they have all of the choices we have right now as they grow up.
One of the enablers of the modern day family has been the advancement in fertility treatment.
Not too many years ago if you found you couldn’t have a family there weren’t many options for you. Fast forward to now and there have been huge developments in fertility treatment. With 3.5 million people in the UK having difficulty conceiving (which equates to one in seven couples) fertility treatment is helping thousands of people become parents for the first time. In 2014 52,288 women had a total of 67,708 cycles of IVF, most, 92.1%, started treatment to try to conceive a baby during that cycle of treatment, 3.8% were part of an egg sharing agreement and 4.1% had treatment but had their eggs or embryos frozen. (source HFEA).
But it’s not just couples who are struggling to conceive, same-sex couples who once weren’t able to have a family, through fertility options now can.
There is also the dilemma for many women in their mid to late thirties who want a baby but there’s no sign of Mr Right coming along, do they give up or do it alone? For many, they have decided to do it alone through either fertility treatment or adoption. There are so many choices now for women who, for whatever reason, have decided to become single parents.
I am a Mummy to two girls and I believe that all children need is a loving home for them to thrive. Whether they are conceived through IVF or not doesn’t matter – it’s what happens when they are brought home that will ultimately shape them.
We are so lucky to live in such a fantastic, open society, one that tries to give options to all and I expect the family as we know it will continue to evolve with our children looking back on their family unit as I am now and talking about the changes they have seen.
A ‘normal’ family doesn’t really exist anymore and I for one think that’s a good thing.