“My daughter says she is asexual. Will I ever be a grandma??”
Question Submitted Anonymously
Answered by Beck Paterson
The short answer: Maybe.
The long answer: Whether or not you will have grandchildren depends on your daughter and her relationship to asexuality, and most importantly, what she wants.
I can understand where your concern is coming from. As a mother, you are likely feeling worried or disappointed because you just want your daughter to have the happiest and fullest life possible, and her coming out as asexual probably did not fit into the life you imagined for her. After all, motherhood is probably a big, huge joy in your life, so of course you’d want her to share that experience with you! Not to mention you having an opportunity to enjoy watching another little human grow up right in front of your very eyes—this time with the added benefit of getting to give them back to their parents at the end of the day! Being a grandparent is a big, important milestone for a lot of people, but the answer to your question is a little more complicated than just sexuality.
The first thing that is important to remember is that asexuality means that a person—in this case your daughter—does not experience sexual attraction. Asexuality doesn’t mean that a person cannot have sex (and therefore children), and it also doesn’t mean the same thing as celibacy or abstinence, which is when a person chooses not to have sex despite possible sexual attractions.
It is also important to note that asexuality comes in all shapes and sizes. What I mean by that is that oftentimes “asexual” is used as a blanket term for a variety of different sub-identities under the asexual label. As a result, identifying as asexual can look very different from person to person. For example, included under the asexual umbrella are gray-asexuality (a person experiences sexual attraction sometimes, but it is so rare or so insignificant that it is ignorable) and demisexuality (a person will experience sexual attraction to someone only after a significant bond is formed with that person).
Even within the identity of asexual (when not used as a blanket term), there is diversity. Some asexual-identifying individuals want absolutely nothing to do with sex, and are even uncomfortable with the idea of engaging in sexual activity. This is typically referred to as “sex-repulsed asexuality.” On the other hand, some asexual-identifying individuals love sex and want sex (they just don’t feel sexual attraction the way allosexuals—or people who do not identify as asexual—do). This is typically referred to as “sex-positive asexuality.” In the middle, there is “sex-neutral asexuality” which means that an asexual-identifying person doesn’t have strong feelings one way or the other. That doesn’t even take into account romantic orientations, which refers to which genders a person is romantically attracted to.
Of course, as with everything when it comes to sexual and gender identity, all of these identities exist on a spectrum, so your daughter could fall anywhere along those lines. That makes communication so important. The only one who can really tell you where along the spectrum she falls is your daughter.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, even if your daughter does identify as an asexual who is not interested in sex in any way, that doesn’t mean she is incapable of forming full, loving romantic relationships. While there are some people—asexual or otherwise—who are aromantic (a person who doesn’t feel romantic attraction), many asexuals still want and have very fulfilling romantic relationships. If your daughter is one of these people, at some point there is a good chance that having children will be a possibility anyway, regardless of her sexual orientation. The make-up of the nuclear family nowadays is changing. It’s less and less a case of a mother, a father, and naturally-conceived-and-born children, because that scenario simply isn’t realistic for so many families. Consider lesbian or gay couples who want children, or heterosexual couples who biologically aren’t capable of having children naturally. All of the options that are available to those families are available to your daughter as well. Perhaps, if she’s under the sex-repulsed category, and sex is not something that she ever wants to participate in, she could try in-vitro fertilization (IVF), or maybe she would prefer adoption. The point is, conceiving a child through intercourse isn’t the only way to have children anymore.
But ultimately, this is 100 percent your daughter’s decision. Whether or not to have children is every woman’s choice, regardless of their biology, or sexual or romantic orientation. At the end of the day, your daughter could decide that she doesn’t want children, and that decision could have absolutely nothing to do with sexuality! Some women decide not to have children for a wide variety of reasons, so aside from all of the sexuality factors, she might not even want to have kids in the first place!
I think that the biggest takeaway from this is that it is so important to communicate. Only your daughter has the true answer to whether or not you will have grandchildren, and if she was comfortable enough to come out as asexual to you, there is a very good chance she is willing to have this conversation with you also. But it is also important to remember that your daughter came to you with this information about her identity because she trusted you to love and support her for who she really is. Part of that is supporting her in her decisions regarding children as well. As disappointing as it might be for you if she decides not to have children, it will be so much better for your daughter to have your support because, at the end of the day, it is up to her to decide if, when, and how she wants to have children. She may decide that she doesn’t want kids, and part of that decision might be influenced by her asexuality, but it won’t be just because of her asexuality.
Related reading: Defining: Asexuality
Beck Paterson just finished their Honours English degree at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. They look forward to getting into a Social Work program and working to make lives better. Now that they aren’t in school, Beck spends their time reading comics and marathoning 90s TV shows on Netflix. They also enjoy naps. If you’re so inclined, you can visit their website at www.beckpaterson.ca
Want to become a volunteer writer? Tell us here!